PC negligence in shaw fire fallout continues to hinder Albertans

EDMONTON, AB (July 13, 2012): Albertans continue to report disruptions to major services as a result of the PC government’s failure to adequately protect data and services at the Shaw Court building in Calgary, Wildrose Service Alberta Critic Rod Fox said today. 

The building, which houses data centres that provide services to the City of Calgary and the province, experienced a fire on Wednesday and a subsequent loss of data and services. 

As of this morning, Albertans were still reporting that services haven’t been restored. Fox says the PCs have failed to provide adequate backup systems to protect Albertans. 

“The PCs have repeatedly failed to improve information backup and redundancy systems and this time it came back to bite them,” Fox said. “I understand that accidents and emergencies happen, but there’s no excuse for not having an accessible backup in the province for our vital information.” 

In addition to cancelled surgeries and the public health risk caused by doctors not having access to critical information like allergies and past medical history, Albertans confirmed to Wildrose Official Opposition Leader Danielle Smith today on Twitter disruptions in internet service, obtaining land titles, renewing drivers’ licences and plates and depositing bank cheques: 

  • @farmerharm: @ElectDanielle yes it caused some banking problems. Deposited cheques are not in our account yet.
  • @rogervanharen: @ElectDanielle land titles down – unable to pull titles to contact landowners for property access
  • @007Bergeron: @ElectDanielle shaw fire impact: yes we had no Internet and wifi for a day & half. Also ATB financial on line was down about same
  • @slo_burn21 @ElectDanielle that’s correct Danielle. Can’t even obtain a temporary permit.
  • @MBSThompson: @ElectDanielle @slo_burn21 me too! We are supposed to leave today at noon for a bike trip! No plates=no trip :(
  • @StephenLuyendyk: @ElectDanielle @slo_burn21 I have been trying for two days to do the same here in Edmonton and have been turned away each time 

Fox said it’s mind boggling that analog tapes are used to back up the personal information and records of Albertans, such as medical records, land titles, hunting and fishing licenses. 

“This 1970s government needs to get into the 21st century, fast,” Fox said. “What’s the back up for the analog tapes, typewriters and rotary phones?” 

Fox added that it is also unacceptable that backups were housed both in the same facility, and in far away Ontario, offering no immediate protection in the event of an emergency.

“It just doesn’t make sense why it was set up like this,” Fox said. “What’s worse is the government was warned.  The Auditor General pointed out in 2009 that they needed a plan and they needed to test it.  It’s beyond belief that the government does not have effective emergency response and business continuity measures in place to protect the security of Albertans’ personal and business information and to ensure services are not interrupted in this exact situation.  It’s so basic.” 

In November of 2011, the Auditor General highlighted 16 outstanding recommendations – some as old as four years – to improve IT services at Service Alberta, including an October 2009 recommendation to “complete and test an information technology resumption plan.” (p. 163) 

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