MHA’s letter to commissioner highlights privacy concerns
NDP MHA Gerry Rogers (St. John’s Centre) has asked the Information and Privacy Commissioner to investigate a new government policy that she feels compromises her constituents’ privacy.
A new system introduced since the last provincial election requires MHAs and their staff to funnel constituent queries through the executive assistants. The previous practice had been for the MHAs to contact designated civil servants, who were not politically appointed.
“The new policy introduces new sets of eyes – an Executive Assistant and possibly a Minister – viewing a constituent’s personal information, with no apparent advantage to the constituent,” Rogers’ letter reads, in part. “Our privacy legislation prohibits unnecessary people from viewing someone’s personal information.”
Since November 2011, NDP caucus staffers have asked repeatedly for a copy of this policy in writing, and for a justification for the change. “We have not been told why this new policy has been introduced,” Rogers says in her letter. “We have repeatedly asked for an explanation of the purpose of the policy, and for a written copy of the policy, but have never received same.”
Rogers herself has also written to Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Burke herself asking for the policy to be forwarded.
“The type of work that we’re doing has very personal information attached to it,” she said. “I can understand that a minister might need to know that there are problems with policy, and I will call a minister with such concerns, but there is no reason for the minister and her political staff to have every personal detail of my individual constituents’ life.
“This is wrong – no ifs, ands or buts.”