Veterans' privacy audit report coming in 2012

An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada's privacy commissioner said Monday as a third veteran went public with a complaint about how his file has been handled.

Government accessing veteran records

11 years ago
Duration 13:13
The medical records of Sylvain Chartrand, a Canadian reservist, were accessed more than 4,000 times between 2005 and 2010- and he's not alone.

An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada's privacy commissioner said Monday.

The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency.

Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010.

HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans' rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs.

A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon.

"We are currently conducting an audit of Veterans Affairs," Anne-Marie Hayden said. "It is examining, at a systemic level, the department’s personal information management practices and compliance with federal privacy legislation.

"As part of the audit, we are closely monitoring the progress of their implementation of our recommendations, resulting from the investigation of Veterans Affairs concluded in October 2010 ... We anticipate making the audit findings public in the winter of 2012."

Third privacy breach

Chartrand filed a complaint with the privacy commissioner in 2008 about an official at Veterans Affairs giving information to an official from the Department of National Defence.

Assistant Privacy Commissioner Chantal Bernier found the complaint was valid but didn't recommend any corrective action because the agency had already taken action, she said in a letter to Chartrand.

Chartrand and fellow veteran Dennis Manuge requested their records after hearing about Bruyea's case. They have all advocated for veterans rights.

Manuge, speaking to Evan Solomon on CBC Radio's The House, says records show civil servants in Victoria, Winnipeg and Mississauga, Ont., accessed his file, as well as a senior writer in the minister's office. He says he doesn't know why they would have needed access to a file containing his personal records.

Chartrand is now the third veteran to go public with privacy concerns, speaking to Solomon today on CBC's Power & Politics.

A statement by Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney says the government worked with Stoddart's office to strengthen its privacy rules.

"Our government will not tolerate any violation of veterans' privacy. That's why we took action a year ago to ensure strict disciplinary measures for those who violate the law, while strengthening access controls and monitoring," he said.