Steve Rennie reports:
The Canadian Wheat Board, apparently for no reason, shared “sensitive information” about farmers with companies that handle grain, says a newly released document.
An internal audit completed last year says the wheat board couldn’t explain why it sent farmers’ “confidential personal financial data” to the taxman and so-called handling agents.
“The CWB has been sending confidential personal financial data to Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and other organizations for an unidentified period of time,” says the audit.
“There does not appear to be any known requirement for the CWB to be sending any individual permit data to third parties. During the course of our review, through numerous inquiries, we were unable to determine why this sensitive information is being sent out.
The wheat board gives farmers’ information only to companies it does business with, a spokesman said. That information relates to land farmers hold, their deliveries and other account information.
“They are not receiving the SINs,” spokesman John Lyons said. “They are receiving basic account information to accept deliveries from a farmer.”
He stressed no privacy rules were violated. The wheat board also says the report does not find or allege any mishandling of farmers’ information.
“The audit didn’t find any breach of any privacy provisions or any mishandling of information,” Lyons said.
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Follow-up of Nov. 24: CWB responded to the privacy concerns. As reported on PortageOnline:
The Canadian Wheat Board says there’s no reason to be concerned about the latest controversy surrounding the CWB.
According to a story from Canadian Press, an auditor found the Wheat Board was giving personal information of farmers to grain companies and the Canada Revenue Agency without any explanation.
CWB spokesperson Maureen Fitzhenry argues the reporter took some sensational language and buried the obvious fact the Wheat Board has to exchange information to conduct business.
She says farmers are well aware the Board shares permit book information with grain companies as they act as agents on behalf of the Wheat Board.
This information includes names, producer identification numbers and information on outstanding delivery contracts, current deliveries and cash advances.