A heated exchange in the legislature Friday saw accusations of breaching privacy coming from both sides of the house.
During question period, Opposition MLA Steven Myers accused Community Services Minister Valerie Docherty of revealing the identity of a P.E.I. man on social assistance during a public meeting last April.
“Can you tell the house . . . why you thought it was your right to break their confidentiality?” Myers asked.
But Docherty shot back, asking why he and Opposition Leader Olive Crane tried to visit a facility that houses children who are wards of the province.
“I’m somewhat amused by the word ‘confidentiality’,” she said
As a trained social worker, Crane should have known this was not appropriate, Docherty continued.
“She went with (Myers) to see my children, and that is against the role of a social worker, that’s against the law, and how dare both of them do that.”
Myers explained he was not trying to see the children, but he and Crane travelled to the Tracadie facility to meet with the social workers who are employed there.
“We never went inside the facility, we talked to one of the workers out there about the work they were doing and that’s all there was to it,” Myers said.
“I’d certainly like to see how that was criminal, we weren’t any further than a public parking lot.”
He said Docherty only brought this up to deflect attention from his questions about her breaching the privacy of a social services client.
Speaking to reporters after question period, Docherty denied naming the client.
She said she does not even have access to records detailing the names of those who receive social assistance.
“I did not specifically name names at that meeting,” she said.
“If I was talking about social assistance it would be in the general sense of the term . . . I would never get into specifics about any client.”
She challenged Myers to provide proof of his allegations, since neither he nor anyone from his office attended the meeting.
Opposition staff then placed a call to someone who claimed to have been at the meeting but who did not want his name published.
When speaking to The Guardian, this man said Docherty did name an individual, but could not recall the exact context in which the name was mentioned. He did say he was surprised Docherty mentioned the individual’s name and he and others in attendance left the meeting believing it meant he was on social assistance.