RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dubeau misrepresents Privacy Commissioner’s findings!

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On Friday, 19 February 2016, Deputy Commissioner Daniel Dubeau, RCMP Chief Human Resources Officer, distributed an e-mail to all RCMP Member’s e-mail addresses prior to the airing of Global’s “16X9” program about the RCMP’s serious breach of the Privacy Act. In his e-mail, Deputy Commissioner Dubeau misrepresents the Privacy Commissioner’s findings with respect to the RCMP’s breach of Members’ mental health records.

Dubeau states, “In other words, the internal disclosure of personal information constituted a consistent use pursuant to the Privacy Act.” However, that is NOT what the Privacy Commissioner said. Here is exactly what the Privacy Commissioner said about the internal disclosure of RCMP member’s personal information

The RCMP is of the opinion that the use of the complainants’ personal information contained in the progress reports was consistent with RCMP PPE 808, which allows for information to be shared with a ‘Commanding Officer, Appropriate Officer, or the police of local jurisdiction in order to ensure the safety of the public, including RCMP members.’ The RCMP did not provide any further information to support this claim.

There is no evidence to suggest that the use was for the purpose of ensuring the safety and security of the public or of RCMP members. In order for this to be considered a consistent usage, the RCMP would have to demonstrate in the case of each of the complainants that there were serious concerns that they might cause harm to themselves as a result of Dr. W’s treatment, or that they presented signs indicating they may cause harm to others. The RCMP has not established that any of the complainants exhibited this type of behavior.

The RCMP is also of the opinion that RCMP PPE 808 allows for personal information in the bank to be used for “research, planning, evaluation and audit and statistical purposes….

We consider the review of the progress reports by RCMP psychologists to be a consistent use of personal information contained in RCMP PPE 808. While we do not agree that this usage fits within the definition of “research, planning, evaluation and audit and statistical purposes,” we are of the opinion that the quality control function is consistent with the goal of ensuing that there is an adequate treatment plan in place to help members return to work or to continue in their jobs…

Given the sensitivity of the personal information at issue in this matter, we consider this to be a serious privacy breach. We therefore encourage the RCMP to provide all of its health services professionals in “E” Division with enhanced privacy training in order to ensure that they are aware of their obligations under the [Privacy] Act.

We also have concerns about the description of consistent use for RCMP PPE 808 where it states that ‘This information may also be used for research, planning, evaluation and audit and statistical analysis…’ it is unclear as to the specific uses of the sensitive personal information held in this bank that are anticipated by this statement. We strongly encourage that the RCMP revise the InfoSource entry for RCMP PPE 808 and its associated polices to limit and clarify the uses of the sensitive information of its members held in that PIB. ” [our emphasis added].

According to the Privacy Commissioner’s ruling, the “acceptable internal disclosure” is limited only to the RCMP Psychologists in the Health Services Office, not to other administrators or operational line managers!

We strongly encourage RCMP Members to seek advice from Executive Board Members of the Mounted Police Professional Association or from a lawyer practicing in the fields of employment and privacy law before consenting to disclose their personal health information to the RCMP, including the RCMP’s Health Services Office (who actively participated in the disclosure in the above-referenced case).

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