Premier’s aide broke rule in giving health details of cabinet minister: report – CP

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Premier’s aide broke rule in giving health details of cabinet minister: report – CP

by ahnationtalk on February 11, 2016319 Views

Source: The Canadian Press
Feb 11, 2016 

By Michael Tutton


HALIFAX _ Nova Scotia’s privacy commissioner has found that the premier’s former chief of staff broke privacy rules when he informed reporters that a former cabinet minister had been struggling with medical issues.

Kirby McVicar resigned last November after stating in media interviews that Andrew Younger was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and that he also had a brain tumour.

The report released Thursday by Catherine Tully says McVicar “disclosed sensitive personal information … of Mr. Younger.”

“The report finds that the disclosure is a breach of the privacy rules.”

Tully goes on to place much of the blame on a lack of privacy training for the most senior staff in the province’s top political office.

She calls for the creation of a chief privacy officer in the province to oversee improved policies and training in privacy in the premier’s office and elsewhere in government.

Her recommendations also say basic privacy training should be mandatory for all government employees and include lessons on how to identify personal information that must be protected.

The report recommends that progress on the report’s recommendations be reviewed within a month.

Younger said in an interview Thursday that he made the privacy complaint in hopes similar incidents wouldn’t damage the lives of other government employees.

He said in an interview he has suffered a lasting stigma from McVicar’s disclosures.

The member of the legislature, who sits as an independent since being dropped from the Liberal caucus, said he’s had PTSD for two decades but he’s found that since the public disclosure it suddenly became an issue.

“That disclosure raised questions in people who said, ‘Well, can you do your job,’ and I found that very frustrating,” he said. “To some people, I’m identified as the guy with PTSD.”

He also said he didn’t have a brain tumour.

The report quotes McVicar as admitting to “a lapse in judgment” and notes he didn’t receive privacy training before becoming the premier’s chief of staff.

“While he was certain that the (premier’s) office had a privacy policy and that he had likely received a copy, he had not read it,” says the report.

Premier Stephen McNeil dropped Younger from his cabinet last fall, saying he didn’t provide accurate information on when he knew about a parliamentary privilege that was used to avoid appearing at an assault trial.

Younger failed to appear in provincial court in the case of a former Liberal staff member who was accused of assaulting him, and the case was thrown out.

After being dropped from cabinet, a secret recordings of a conversation between McVicar and Younger surfaced, giving rise to allegations that during the conversation McVicar had tried to offer Younger’s wife a personal services contract.

“McVicar explained that he was trying to put into context Younger’s situation, in an effort to put the allegations to rest,” says the report.

Younger said in an interview that he understands that it is still possible for a police investigation to occur on the privacy breach, now that the privacy investigation is complete.

He said he hasn’t decided whether to pursue that option.

Tully’s report says that McVicar apologized in writing and in person to Younger.

McVicar declined further comment Thursday.



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