Three law firms are filing a lawsuit against the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT), holding the government liable for various health privacy breaches that have occurred over the past decade. The suit will take the form of a representative action.

The representative action will cover several privacy breaches, including the theft of a laptop containing health data for 80 per cent of Northwest Territories’ residents as well as an incident in which hundreds of confidential patient files were found in a banker's box at the Fort Simpson dump.  The territorial Health and Social Services Department has also seen other notable privacy breaches. In 2014, there was a lost USB stick with health information for approximately 4,000 patients and, in 2010 and 2012, medical records were inadvertently faxed to CBC.

The damages could be influenced by how people have been affected including mental anguish over the breaches and the risk of future fraud or identity theft.  Damages for such risks a have been considered by other decisions, such as a 2016 settlement involving the breach of health information for 620,000 Albertans.

Once the statement of claim is filed, it could take months to certify the lawsuit as a representative action. If the lawsuit goes to trial, it could take years before a potential settlement is reached.

For more information on the representative action, please see the CBC website here.

Summary By: Alessia Monastero


19 09 04

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