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Job seekers speak with Service Canada personnel at a Toronto job fair in Sept. 27, 2011. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)
Job seekers speak with Service Canada personnel at a Toronto job fair in Sept. 27, 2011. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)

Security breach shuts federal job bank Add to ...

The online job bank operated by the federal Human Resources department has been out of service for two weeks after an unspecified security breach.

Jobless Canadians who have tried to consult the employment database have met a message saying the “Job Bank is temporarily unavailable due to technical difficulties. We regret any inconvenience.”

When asked about the outage, the department replied in an e-mail Monday that it had “identified a potential risk to Job Bank and, for security reasons, shut down the site to isolate and investigate the problem. Affected employers were notified and we began making important security upgrades.”

The department said five employer accounts were affected and that both the employers and the federal Privacy Commissioner were contacted immediately. It did not elaborate about the nature of the security risk but said that “new security measures are being introduced to significantly enhance the security of the site for all employer accounts.”

The department said every effort is being made to restore service, which connects Canadians with employers in their area who are looking for help, as soon as possible and apologized for the inconvenience.

In the meantime, department officials suggested that job seekers may wish to consult the Working in Canada website for additional job market information and links to other job boards.

The problems with the job bank come as the Service Canada employees work through a massive backlog in claims for employment insurance that grew after hundreds of processors were laid off last summer. That has left some jobless Canadians waiting months for their first EI cheque.

Human Resources Minister Diane Finley, who has since authorized overtime and the temporary hiring of some of the laid-off workers to reduce the number of outstanding claims, has said fewer staff are needed as the application system becomes more automated.

Rodger Cuzner, the Liberal human-resources critic, said he was told last week that the job bank was out of service and that it would be back online shortly

“I have received e mail from job hunters and employers from my riding and its gone on far too long,” Mr. Cuzner said on Monday in an e-mail. “If you've been unemployed and need assistance in sourcing the market, this creates further hardship and anxiety on people. Also employers who might be scrambling to get help are being hurt.”

Jean Crowder, the Human Resources critic for the New Democrats, said that part of the job of the department is to get people jobs. “They are clearly not taking unemployment very seriously if they are allowing the employment bank to be down two weeks.”

People are getting extremely upset, Ms. Crowder said, especially those who have driven some distance to a Service Canada centre to look for work, only to find out that the system is not operating and that Service Canada staff are unable to provide an explanation.

It’s another indication that the government’s automation plans are not working out very well, said Ms. Crowder. And the fact that it was a security breach, she said, “is very strange.”

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