News / Ottawa

Phoenix leaked employees' data, says privacy commissioner

Therrien blames coding errors and administrative negligence for at least 11 breaches.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien holds a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, to discuss his annual report.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien holds a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, to discuss his annual report.

The federal privacy watchdog says inadequate testing, coding errors and poor monitoring of the beleaguered Phoenix federal pay system resulted in exposure of the personal information of public servants.

In his annual report tabled Thursday, privacy commissioner Daniel Therrien found at least 11 breaches occurred.

The personal information at issue included employee names and salary information.

Therrien says most of the vulnerabilities were government-wide, meaning the information of all employees in the Phoenix system at the time of each breach was at risk.

In some cases, the commissioner found, information could be changed and transactions could be conducted.

In addition, Therrien determined there may be lingering vulnerabilities that could lead to future breaches.

The Phoenix pay system has been riddled with other problems, leaving some public servants without pay cheques for many weeks.

CBC also reported Thursday the cost of the dysfunctional system has spiralled up to $185 million.

NDP MP Nathan Cullen said he’s deeply disappointed in the system and the government inability to fix it.

“This is the worst type of basic government incompetence that I have seen so far,” he said. “I’m beyond frustrated.”

The process to create Phoenix was started under the former Conservative government, but Cullen said the Liberals can’t just cast the blame at them.

“They are both bad in this one, no one looks good and it’s the Canadian taxpayer that has to pick up the tab.”

- With files from Ryan Tumilty, Metro  

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