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Canadian Government Mega Database to be Dismantled
Sexual orientation will not be automatically revealed

IT was another 'See HRDC Jane' day on Parliament Hill Monday as the Minister of the federal government's 'money-going-out' department pirouetted in the House by declaring that she had ordered the Longitudinal Labour Force Files to be disassembled.

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Canadian Government's Mega Database Doesn't Reveal Sexual Orientation - Yet
The government's mega database - containing as many as 2000 pieces of information describing over 30 million Canadians - was heavily criticized in a report by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on May 16th.

Bruce Phillips warned that Canadians should be concerned with what he characterized as a de facto citizen profile.

"Every one of us is covered in this file in one way or another.  They have a complete record of you if you've had any contact anywhere with any [of a number of government departments and programs] ... which tells them how your life is progressing," he had said.

At the time Human Resources Development Minister Jane Stewart defended her department's compilation of the data from various other government ministries and agencies into one file as essential for the evaluation of HRDC programs.  The files were first created about 15 years ago in an effort to assess the effectiveness of the Unemployment Insurance program.

Ms. Stewart told the House on Monday that she was ordering the compiled files dismantled because of the concerns of Canadians.

"Given public concerns about privacy issues in this era of advanced and constantly changing technology, I have chosen an approach that addresses future threats to privacy," she said.

Quick-off-the-block interim Alliance Party leader MP Deborah Grey asked the Speaker how the Minister could say the files were essential two weeks ago and today not required.

Notwithstanding, dismantling will proceed under the monitoring of the Privacy Commissioner.

Any data describing the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian Canadians - such as that which may come to be collected by Revenue Canada and the Census Bureau - will not be linked to other government departments.  Although information is shared among many ministries and federal-provincial agreements for similar exist, access to that particular data will be less readily available and no longer available in a central location.

Human Resources Development Canada has received 18,000 requests from Canadians in the past two weeks for a copy of their file in order to see what's in it.  The ministry has vowed to answer all requests.