Canadian government workers to undergo fingerprinting as part of new security policy

March 17, 2015 - 

Unions representing federal public servants have raised concerns about the Canadian government’s new initiative to enforce mandatory credit checks of new and current public servants that would include fingerprinting as part of its updated security clearance screening process, according to a report by the National Post.

“An assessment of the trustworthiness and reliability of all individuals accessing sensitive information and/or assets must be undertaken to protect the interests and security of the government of Canada,” Treasury Board spokeswoman Lisa Murphy said. “A credit check will be reviewed as part of that assessment, in addition to other information to assist in assessing an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness.”

Murphy added that the security check “may include an RCMP requirement to obtain the individual’s fingerprints if deemed necessary by the functions of the position.”

Both the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada have expressed their concerns about the new policy.

PSAC president Robyn Benson said the union feels that the security checks “will be an unwarranted gross violation of personal privacy” for government employees, and “could be applied in an arbitrary way.”

The PIPSC has filed six policy grievances on behalf of the various employee groups it represents, alleging that the new security checks will result in an “impermissible breach of privacy” for employees.

The new screening rules replace a policy that was in effect for more than two decades. Administered by Treasury Board, this new security standard applies to new employees of nearly all federal departments and agencies as well as those employees whose security status changes or is renewed.

The security screening is “a fundamental practice that establishes and maintains a foundation of trust within government, between government and Canadians, and between Canada and other countries,” according to the new policy.

As part of the screening procedure, the RCMP will maintain a national repository of criminal history records and compare the fingerprints of an employee to see if he or she has a criminal record.

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About Justin Lee

Justin Lee has been a contributor with Biometric Update since 2014. Previously, he was a staff writer for web hosting magazine and website, theWHIR. For more than a decade, Justin has written for various publications on issues relating to technology, arts and culture, and entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @BiometricJustin.