The agency was forced to hire credit monitoring company Equifax to keep tabs on the credit histories of Elections Canada employees whose data on the hard drive was stolen from a returning office in Jonquière, Que., during the recent campaign.

The data include names, social insurance numbers, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth of 611 temporary employees hired to work during the election campaign, as well as information about landlords who were providing space to Elections Canada.

The data was encrypted, Elections Canada says, making it hard for identity thieves to exploit.

Nevertheless, the agency agreed to provide ongoing monitoring of the employees’ credit history, at a cost of $22,995 over the next year.

Elections Canada says the drive was stolen Sept. 8 from the returning office in leased spaced in a Jonquière shopping mall. The mall required access to the office to repair underground pipes and asked that the rear door be left open. A staff member was on hand to watch the office for all but a few minutes while the door was open.

The next morning, however, the returning officer found the hard drive used for daily back-ups of the office computers had gone missing. The returning officer notified Sécurité publique du Saguenay and the police force began an investigation. The drive has not yet been found.

“Security measures have been strengthened so portable hard drives are kept under lock and security has been enhanced so that all backups of employee and landlord information are encrypted in all returning offices,” spokesman John Enright said in an email.

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