Bruyea settles with Veterans Affairs
Terms of settlement confidential
Sean Bruyea, a Canadian Gulf War veteran and Veterans Affairs critic whose personal and medical information was illegally shared by officials, has settled his claim against the department, it was revealed Thursday.
The federal government apologized to Bruyea in October, after the federal privacy commissioner found Veterans Affairs officials broke the law by including his medical and psychological diagnosis and treatment in ministerial briefing notes, and also sharing it with a veterans hospital.
Bruyea started a $400,000 court action after learning through access-to-information requests he filed that his privacy rights were breached.
"We can now close this disturbing chapter in our lives. We must learn to live life again on a personal level. And for Canada's veterans and our government, there is much work to be done and many lessons to be learned from our struggle," Bruyea said in a news release.
The terms of the settlement are confidential, he said.
"Minister Blackburn followed through on his commitment to make this right," Bruyea said. "I sincerely thank the minister and the prime minister for facilitating a dignified and expedited closure to this matter."
The government had a duty to protect the confidential medical information of veterans, said human rights lawyer Paul Champ, who launched the lawsuit for Bruyea.
"Veterans are extremely vulnerable. Their health and financial security require them to share intimate information. Their privacy and dignity are exposed, and they rely on the trust of Veterans Affairs officials to act appropriately," Champ said in a release.
Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn said Thursday in statement that when he rose in the House of Commons on Oct. 25 to offer the government's regrets for the breach of Bruyea's privacy, he "also promised an expedited mediation process to settle his legal case against the government of Canada."
"I am pleased to confirm this mediation process has resulted in a settlement satisfactory to all sides involved," Blackburn said.