All Posts Tagged With: "Human Resources and Skills Development Canada"
What students are talking about today (February 5th)
1. Canadian university and college students are abusing the prescription drug Adderall—a pill form of amphetamine that is prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder—to stay focused on schoolwork, reports CTV News, who have dubbed it “campus crack.” Researchers in the United States estimate that as many as 30 per cent of students there are abusing Adderall. As for Canada? “It has quite the presence around campus here, and I hear about it all the time,” one anonymous University of British Columbia student told CTV. Although I’m sure some quantity is available on Canadian campuses, I doubt that it’s as common as it is in America. One anonymous student does not make a “campus crack” trend.
2. Memorial University’s student union won’t allow a fraternity and a sorority to become official groups because they say the groups discriminate by gender. Maxwell Page, a director at large with MUNSU, told CBC News they “will not ratify any group that the council considers to be of homophobic, racist, ageist, sexist or otherwise discriminatory nature.” What makes this especially silly is that both the sorority, Nu Delta Mu, and the fraternity, Sigma Theta Pi, say they are open to anyone joining.
3. The University of Toronto is planning to build a $9.5-million field hockey pitch to be used in the 2015 Pan Am Games and that has caused controversy because it would require replacing real grass with artificial turf, reports the Toronto Star. The University College Council voted nearly unanimously last fall to to register “strong concerns.” Those who oppose artificial fields say real grass is a cooling surface that combats climate change, soaks up rainfall and isn’t made with certain chemicals. The turf is, however, a requirement of the International Field Hockey Federation.
4. The federal Liberals requested an emergency debate in the House of Commons Monday over the loss of an external hard drive containing the personal information of 583,000 Canada Student Loan borrowers. They wanted Human Resources Minister Diane Finley to answer questions including when the device was last seen and why the RCMP have been called, reports Canada.com. Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled that the request didn’t meet the requirements for emergency debate. Finley has ordered stricter data handling protocols for her department, including the collection and destruction of unapproved USB memory sticks. Credit monitoring firm Equifax is flagging affected accounts for students who contact them. A class action lawsuit has been filed.
5. The University of Prince Edward Island waited too long to close after a snowstorm Monday, say some students. Dianne Rogers went to school for a midterm. “One and a half pages into the exam, someone arrives at the door to say, ‘School’s closed, go home’,” she told CBC News. “I was thoroughly frustrated because the conditions weren’t safe for me to be out there in the first place.” Dozens of students took to Facebook angry at the university for waiting until about 8:20 a.m.. Nearby Holland College’s was closed around 7 a.m. Jackie Podger, a UPEI vice-president, told CBC staff were monitoring the weather and didn’t shut down until they felt conditions warranted it.
Affected graduates unsatisfied with gov’t response
Last Friday, the agency that oversees the Canada Student Loans Program shocked post-secondary graduates by announcing it had lost social insurance numbers, full names, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of 583,000 individuals who took federal loans between 2000 and 2006. The information was stored on an external hard drive deemed missing from a Gatineau, Que. office on Nov. 5.
Just five days after the bombshell announcement from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the agency that oversees Canada Student Loans, more than 4,300 Canadians had approached St. John’s Nfld.-based lawyer Bob Buckingham about his proposed class action lawsuit. Today, that class action suit was filed.
“New information comes into us by the minute from people on what is happening here, in terms of the cost and consequences to them,” says Buckingham, a privacy breach claims lawyer. He added that he hopes HRSDC will “negotiate a reasonable and realistic resolution.”
HRSDC representative Amélie Maisonneuve wrote in an email to Maclean’s On Campus Thursday morning that they are “committed to conducting a thorough and extensive review of this incident in order to prevent such an occurrence in the future.” Maisonneuve added that “extensive, in-depth and thorough search efforts for the missing hard drive have been undertaken and continue.”
HRSDC has already undertaken some action in an attempt to address the fallout. On Monday, they launched a toll-free number that concerned borrowers may call and check whether their personal information had been involved. The department has fielded more than 40,000 calls already.
But some students aren’t finding it very useful. Victoria Strange, a 25-year-old Bishop’s University graduate, called the hotline on Monday after hearing online about the privacy breach. “My future’s pretty much on the line if someone takes my identity,” she says. “There’s not much I can do about protecting my social insurance number, because I have no idea who might have it.”
Rochelle Latinsky, a 27-year-old York University graduate who lives in Toronto, made the call to HRSDC on Tuesday. She said she was told to expect a letter with further information from the department in the coming days. She says a letter doesn’t cut it: “They should be doing their best to try and reach out to people beyond a letter in the mail,” she said.
HRSDC confirmed they are mailing letters to affected individuals detailing next steps.
Latinsky has since made calls to her bank and a credit reporting agency, as suggested by HRSDC, to monitor her situation for any fraudulent activity. “The fact that I have to do all the chasing,” she says, “is really not cool.”
When asked whether they would join a class action lawsuit like Buckingham’s, both Latinsky and Strange said they would consider it. Strange says her trust in the government has been broken.
Names, SIN numbers, contact info. missing
A federal agency has lost a portable hard drive containing personal information about more than half a million people who took out student loans.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada said Friday the device contained data on 583,000 Canada Student Loans Program borrowers from 2000 to 2006.
The missing files include student names, social insurance numbers, dates of birth, contact information and loan balances of borrowers, as well as the personal contact information of 250 department employees.
Borrowers from Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories during this time period are not affected.