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MLAs call for new privacy policies, more training


A committee of MLAs wants the territorial government to develop new privacy policies and ensure employees are property trained to handle personal information.

The recommendations respond to the NWT information and privacy commissioner’s latest annual report, which detailed a number of privacy breaches that occurred in 2020 and 2021.

The commissioner expressed ongoing concern over the territory’s longstanding practice of faxing sensitive records, and failure to meet information request obligations during the pandemic.

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Commissioner Andrew Fox spoke to MLAs about the report in February, highlighting the need for more dedicated information and privacy staff alongside training for NWT government employees.

Fox said he was not aware of any overarching policy that ensures all territorial employees receive privacy training before handling personal information. A lack of adequate training, he said, kept leading to privacy breaches and damaged public trust.

On Monday, the legislature’s standing committee on government operations released its response to Fox’s report and made four recommendations to the NWT government. 

MLAs want the territory to establish a policy by April next year that ensures all employees receive proper training on the collection, use and disclosure of personal recommendation.

The committee requested an updated policy on the use of handheld devices by the public service. MLAs further recommended that the territory provide updates on its plan to reduce the use of fax machines across the health and social services system.

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The territorial government is also asked to make some government-held records publicly available by default.

The GNWT has 120 days to respond to the committee’s report.

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