EXCLUSIVE - Revenue Canada employees browsed porn, delved into personal files

The headquarters of the Canada Revenue Agency



OTTAWA - Dozens of Canada Revenue Agency employees are sanctioned every year for browsing porn sites, consulting colleagues' and relatives' tax files or transmitting confidential information.

QMI Agency uncovered the details in documents obtained though access to information.

Over five years beginning in 2006, 927 misconduct cases were logged in CRA offices across the country. That works out to nearly 200 cases per year.

Most cases involve misuse of government property or access to confidential taxpayer information.

The 2006-2007 fiscal year was particularly noteworthy for abuse. Documents revealed 136 cases in which bureaucrats used CRA offices for non-government business.

There were 34 cases in which staff looked at confidential tax records.

Others had failed to report sources of income, were drunk on the job or solicited clients to help their personal companies, according to the records.

One tax worker had downloaded hundreds of sexy photos and had surfed porn websites for more than two hours.

Five people were fired and 113 suspended.

Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said she is currently investigating.

In her annual report, Stoddart noted a "potential risk" that privacy violations can affect "thousands of Canadians."

The Canada Revenue Agency said it was taking "very seriously the protection of the Canadian tax system," adding that offenders were punished if complaints against them were found to be legitimate.

"Incidents involving one employee or a small group of employees do not cast doubt on the honesty and professionalism of thousands of employees," CRA spokesman Philippe Brideau said in an e-mail.

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