Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise in the House to follow up on the response that I provided to my hon. colleague from Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
The government takes protecting Canadians' privacy very seriously. This protection is part of every aspect of our decision-making process. As Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board and to the Minister of Digital Government, I have seen how hard public servants work every day to protect Canadians' privacy. Many of them process and study thousands of sensitive government documents, the vast majority of the time without issue, while meeting appropriate security standards.
This is because the public servants who deal with sensitive information are required to undergo security screening and security training. This is a fundamental exercise. It establishes and maintains a foundation of trust within government, between government and Canadians and between Canada and other countries.
Allow me to provide a bit of background for the hon. member and all Canadians participating in this debate.
All public servants who handle government documents undergo a level of security screening that is proportionate to the responsibilities of their positions. For positions that deal with more sensitive information, requirements are even more robust.
Departments are required to renew the security status of employees on an ongoing basis. There are also times when enhanced security screening is required. It is undertaken when duties involve or directly support security and intelligence functions. These extensive processes help ensure the integrity of our system.
Let me stress an important point. Individuals must be officially granted a security status or clearance before they are assigned to a position and before they are granted access to sensitive information, including personal information.
Employees also take ongoing security training to better fulfill their obligations. It is important to note that public servants process a wide range of sensitive documents. Some of these documents may include personal information, others may be confidential cabinet documents, and some may be related to national security.
The vast majority of these documents are handled securely and appropriately without issue. However, when employees are found to have not followed the appropriate protocols, they are provided with additional guidance and assistance to help ensure that the mistake is not repeated. When it comes to privacy specifically, the Government of Canada also has a framework for protecting Canadians' information.
The directive on privacy practices requires government institutions to develop plans and establish procedures to manage privacy breaches and assign roles and responsibilities to that end. The directive also requires these institutions to report any substantial privacy breaches to the Treasury Board Secretariat and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to answer the question.
The guidelines for privacy breaches provide explicit guidance as to what is or is not a “material” breach. These are just some of the ways the government is working hard to safeguard the privacy of Canadians. It is of utmost importance to this government, and we will continue to practise due diligence and ensure that the privacy of Canadians is protected.