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November 1st, 2011

Private Canadian Children’s Ministry Papers Dumped In Trash, Contain Names, Addresses, Birth Dates

The B.C. government is dealing with another privacy breach after confidential documents from the Ministry of Children and Family Development were found dumped in a garbage bin. The documents were discovered dumped in a green dumpster behind a Victoria apartment building last week, and contain client names, addresses, birth dates and health card numbers.

At first, the ministry said the papers were merely for training purposes, but officials have now confirmed that private client information was also included. “The priority is to identify those people whose privacy may have been breached and to inform them as quickly as possible,” cabinet spokeswoman Mary Polak said. “We will continue to work closely with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.”

Police were called in to secure the documents, while the ministry struggled to determine what they contained. It’s believed that the papers were dumped by a former employee who left government several months ago. Civil servants are required to return all private information when they leave their jobs, and alls documents are supposed to follow a strict policy for disposal.

NDP critic John Horgan says the breach is a cause for serious worry. “I’m concerned that the most sensitive ministry in government — the Ministry for Children and Family Development — would allow a week to languish without confirming or denying the release of private information to the public. Throwing documents into a dumpster is unacceptable in the 21st century,” he said.

The discovery of the documents marks the second time in a week that the province has had to deal with news of an embarrassing privacy breach. Last week, CTV News revealed that the private health records of 450 patients at Vancouver General Hospital were compromised when a medical resident lost his laptop and USB drive at the airport in Toronto.

Credit: CTV News (

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