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Private information at risk if government sells ServiceOntario

Budget Hearings Appearance Today

The privacy of every Ontarian will be at risk if the Ontario Budget passes, allowing the Ontario Government to sell ServiceOntario to a U.S.-based corporation, says Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Thomas will deliver his message today to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. Joining him will be prominent Toronto lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo.

When: 7:45 p.m., Wednesday, June 6
Where: Room 230, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park

The sweeping and intrusive U.S. Patriot Act gives the U.S. government the power to order disclosure of personal information held by any U.S. company. The orders are issued and executed in secret and without notice to interested parties.

Cavalluzzo issues this warning: "Under Bill 55, (Budget legislation) if ServiceOntario services are contracted out to an American corporation or subsidiary, personal information of Ontarians could be provided to U.S. National Security agencies under compulsion of the U.S. Patriot Act. Ontarians know what can happen when an Ontarian’s personal information is given to the American National Security apparatus. Just ask Maher Arar."

Ontario privacy legislation will not protect Ontarians, lawyers have advised. Natural Resources Minister Michael Gravelle incorrectly stated in the Legislature that U.S. corporations could not disclose information without permission from Ontario.

"Ontarians must use ServiceOntario to receive critical government-issued identification, including birth certificates, driver’s licences, and health cards," says Thomas. "There is clear danger of unwarranted and secret intrusion into the private lives of Ontarians."

The Ontario government has already contracted with two U.S.-based firms: Active Outdoors to manage hunting and fishing licences; and, Maximus, a company that trades on the New York Stock Exchange, to manage the Ontario Drug Benefit Program.

More information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613.329.1931 Paul Cavalluzzo 416.964.5500