William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

MEDICAL FILES AND ARMY BLEEDING PILES

Oh what a tangled web they weaved when they surreptitiously did deceive.
Pulling the files of Sean and the Duke, it was enough to make one puke.
To use the info contained therein to show their suffering deep within.
It was a planned faux pas tried and true and it could happen to me and you?

No DB just a slap on the wrist and that has made many soldiers pissed.
Not even fourteen and twenty-five and no pack drill to really deprive.
Just a reprimand letter put on the file, missing punishment by a mile.
It was a calculated move, imagine that, lets vie to bring back Colonel Pat!

Veterans Affairs Manager Who Probed Privacy Breach Praised By Superiors For Minimizing Impact On Staff

Officials warned public would be unhappy with light punishments

Ottawa Time: November 14, 2012

Sean Bruyea
Sean Bruyea, a veterans advocate, had his personal and financial information violated thousands of times by Veterans Affairs officials.
A Veterans Affairs manager who investigated his colleagues during a probe into one of Canada’s largest privacy breaches was thanked by a senior bureaucrat for the way he ensured that the impact on staff was minimized, according to newly released documents.

That has prompted the Ottawa veteran at the centre of the scandal, former Canadian Forces officer Sean Bruyea, to label the 2010 in-house investigation a farce and to call on government to do more to ensure the personal information of retired military personnel is safeguarded.

The documents show the internal investigation only involved about 60 per cent of the 650 individuals who accessed Bruyea’s personal file, which was looked at almost 4,500 times over a 10-year period.

Most of the incidents took place during the last four years after Bruyea became an outspoken advocate for veterans and a critic of Veterans Affairs.

The file contained details about Bruyea’s medical and mental health, the type of prescription drugs he takes and his financial and pension information, among other data.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart found that Veterans Affairs broke the law when it came to handling the retired officer’s personal information but she only looked at a small number of incidents.

A more detailed examination was left to department officials. But from the beginning those investigators decided not to look into the actions of more than 250 employees who accessed Bruyea’s file because they had since left the department. Of the remaining 393 cases, Veterans Affairs managers were allowed in most cases to determine whether their employees were in the wrong.

In the end, 54 workers were found to have inappropriately accessed Bruyea’s file; 36 received an “administrative memo,” nine were given a written reprimand, and nine received one-day suspensions.

None lost their jobs; despite assurances from then-Veterans Affairs minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn that firings and 30-day suspensions would await those public servants who violated the law. Prime Minister Stephen Harper had also vowed “strong sanctions” against those who abused veterans’ personal information.

Veterans Affairs officials knew they could have a problem with how the public might view the punishments that were handed out. “External publics may not be pleased with the lack of severity of the designated corrective measures,” one of the documents points out.

The documents, released through the Access to Information law, also show Veterans Affairs managers were happy about the way fellow staff member Tim Rose conducted the investigation.

Stéphane Breau, director of client relations, wrote Rose: “Hi Tim, I didn’t thank you for each individual case, but I am very grateful for the great work you did in ensure (sic) we reduced the staff’s impact as much as we could.”

The 36 public servants who were given an “administrative memo” for accessing Bruyea’s personal information were thanked for their co-operation and told that “employee assistance” was available to them on a 24-hour basis.

“I remain confident this memorandum will serve its purpose and remind you of the importance of respecting at all times the confidentiality of all Veterans Affairs’ client information,” a form copy of the memo noted.

Asked why they accessed Bruyea’s file, some employees said they were “curious” while others pointed out they examined his personal information because the former airman had been critical of Veterans Affairs.

The Citizen requested an interview with Rose and other officials involved, but instead Veterans Affairs provided an email statement, noting the “Government of Canada will not tolerate any violation of Veterans’ privacy.”

Bruyea says such a statement by the department is ridiculous. “Nothing has changed inside and unfortunately I can see this type of thing happening again to other veterans,” he said.

Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney’s press secretary issued a statement Tuesday night, noting that “Minister Blaney and our government take privacy matters extremely seriously.”

“That is why we have brought forward the most sweeping privacy improvements in the history of the department, including the 10-point Privacy Action Plan and Privacy Action Plan 2.0,” Jean-Christophe de le Rue stated in an email. “We will continue to take action to safeguard the privacy of veterans.”

Since Bruyea’s case has come to light, other veterans have come forward to complain their personal information in Veterans Affairs files has been compromised.

Department bureaucrats appeared fixated on Bruyea, producing some 28,000 pages of records on the veteran, as well as monitoring his media appearances and his advocacy activities before Parliament. Bruyea has called for a better deal for the country’s retired and injured military personnel.

But federal bureaucrats didn’t take kindly to Bruyea’s attempts to highlight what he saw as problems.

“Folks, it’s time to take the gloves off here … it’s not that this person is spreading misinformation for his own purposes, it is that this must by now be creating grave doubts among soldiers who now need to know their government backs them … snooze ya lose comes to mind let’s do something here,” Darragh Mogan, then an executive director at the department, wrote in early 2006 after Bruyea questioned veterans benefits.

©Copyright: The Ottawa Citizen