© Guardian Photo by Jim Day
Tracey MacDonald covers his son's SIN number that is visible in the window of this envelope mailed out by a provincial department.
A faulty provincial government-mailing machine is to blame for social insurance numbers being visible in envelope windows of distributed mail.
The Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning issued a statement Monday noting that an equipment malfunction led to the inadvertent distribution of some student information.
The machine improperly folded some forms sent to recipients of post-secondary grants and bursaries causing the nine-digit SIN of the recipient to be visible through the envelope's window.
The folding machine is currently undergoing repair and staff are reviewing protocol to prevent future recurrence.
"Privacy is government's primary concern and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused,'' the department stated.
Tracey MacDonald of Hampton was shocked when he brought in the mail Friday.
Among the mail was a T-4 for a bursary that his son received at Holland College last year. His son's social insurance number was clearly visible through the envelope's window in the mail sent from the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning.
MacDonald's son's name, address and postal code were directly underneath the social insurance number.
He says the slip is a security concern as well as a privacy issue.
"It doesn't seem right,'' he said.
MacDonald says he came to The Guardian with his concern not to raise a fuss but simply to raise awareness. He also informed the Department of Innovation and Advanced Learning about the slip.