House of Commons Hansard #130 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was representation.

Topics

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that there was a theft of computer equipment from our Laval office. The computers did not contain any personal or business income tax information.

They were old databases, primarily from the construction industry and from EI CPP decisions regarding employment.

We have taken immediate action to review all of our processes and to ensure that the 120,000 people affected receive information on how they can protect themselves.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question was, did the minister contact the United States security and immigration officials in the event that these identities are used to gain illegal access to the United States?

If this happened on September 4, why did we wait a month to notify the victims?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, as I confirmed, we did have a break-in. Computers were stolen containing information in old databases that had to be rebuilt. They did not contain factual income tax or business information on individuals.

I can tell members that we acted immediately. The police were on the scene within 15 minutes of the break-in. The fact that the computers were stolen was the result of human error. A server was left out.

The long serving employee of the CCRA feels terrible, as I do. We are notifying people. We want to ensure we get to the right people.

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, today the health minister received a wake-up call about women's health, which again is directly linked to women's income.

Eight out of ten single mothers are low income wage earners, more than six times the rate of partnered mothers. They are five times more likely to succumb to diseases such as anorexia, and more than four times as likely to suffer violence. These factors are health risks.

Before debt reduction becomes the government's economic priority, will the health minister make the case that alleviating poverty for single mothers is important too?

Health
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Edmonton West
Alberta

Liberal

Anne McLellan Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, the government has made it very clear that we understand that dealing with the challenge of poverty is very important. Dealing with that challenge is important in terms of ensuring people good health and access to education.

I take very seriously the comments made by the hon. member in relation to health challenges, especially health challenges for single mothers in our society.

I remind the member that the provinces and territories are the primary deliverers of health care in this country. We work very closely with the provinces and territories to ensure that everybody understands the prerequisites for healthy living.

I look forward to working with her and others.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

September 30th, 2003 / 2:45 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, the latest report by the Canadian Labour Congress showed that only 33% of women and 44% of men contributing to the employment insurance program are entitled to benefits.

My question is for the Prime Minister. Will he recommend that his government colleagues vote tomorrow in favour of Bill C-406, to rectify the errors made in the last reform of the unemployment insurance program, in 1996?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. member is an experienced member of this House. He is no doubt aware that there is a free vote on private members' motions, at least for Liberal members. Perhaps this is not the case for his party.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, we notice a pattern for the Minister of National Revenue. Last December she lost hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent GST claims. In May personal information was stolen from her department and offered for sale to organized crime. Last week confidential tax information was mailed to the wrong address. Then today we have learned that Revenue Canada has suffered what insiders are calling the biggest loss of personal information in Canadian history, when the confidential files of about 120,000 more people went missing.

Why is it that this minister in particular has such a terrible record of mismanaging Canadians confidential files?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, let us forget the rhetoric and talk about an issue that is important to Canadians, and that is there was a theft. We had a break-in in the Laval office. Six computers were stolen. One of those, which was being used as a server, contained some old databases, particularly as it related to the construction industry and to some EI decisions.

We all feel very badly about that. The police are on the scene. The RCMP are investigating. We have taken every action to notify those people so they can protect themselves and we have given them the information they need on how to do that.

That is what Canadians expect and that is what we are doing.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Chuck Strahl Fraser Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, at least the Minister of National Revenue is consistent. Each time there is a disaster in her department, she orders an immediate review. Each time, after the problem is publicized and after personal information of Canadians oozes out of her control, she hits the panic button and promises to investigate and review the matter.

Her latest effort promises a sweeping review of security but only after critically sensitive, confidential information has got out into the public and 120,000 people now have to wonder what happened to their social insurance numbers, names and confidential information.

She is very concerned about bad publicity but not much about good management. Why is it that she seems to be incapable of managing the information entrusted to her?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, let me give the member opposite the facts.

The fact is that one of those computers was being used as a server. It should have been locked up for the night. All our laptop computers are encrypted. They are state of the art, world class. We have never had that encryption seal broken.

In this case, an employee, a long time good employee of the agency, did not put the server back into the secure room as should have been done. That is CCRA policy. He feels very badly, as we do, and we have taken appropriate action.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, not only are there more than five million surplus social insurance cards in circulation, not only are copies of income tax returns sent by mistake to other people, but now 120,000 names, addresses and other information, including SINs, have been stolen from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency computers.

Does the Minister of National Revenue not realize that if she does not take steps to prevent fraud artists from getting their hands on basic data, Canada could easily become the fraud capital of the world?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately break-ins do happen and equipment does get stolen on occasion. In this particular instance, the police were there within 15 minutes of the break-in.

The six computers that we stolen did contain some information, a regional database on decisions relating to employer-employee status. We have taken action to ensure that over almost 600 of our offices check and review their security systems.

We are notifying those 120,000 people even though no information on tax and personal business information was included.

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles-A. Perron Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of National Revenue explain why she waited one month before warning Canadians and Quebeckers that their names, addresses and other information had been stolen, and that they might have been victims of fraud?

Canada Customs and Revenue Agency
Oral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Liberal

Elinor Caplan Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, that is a very important question. The information in the one computer, which was being used as a server and which was stolen, contained old databases. They had to be rebuilt. We did it both electronically and manually. It was extremely labour intensive.

However we wanted to ensure that we were contacting the right people. We have done that. We are ensuring the people have the information they need so they can protect themselves. We are also conducting and I have ordered a thorough security review not only of our policies and of our sites but also to ensure that all our employees are up to date on our procedures.