Manitoba Ombudsman initiates investigation into privacy breach at Manitoba Families, Children’s DisABILITY ServicesReturn to listing
Sep 10, 2020
Manitoba Ombudsman has initiated an investigation into a privacy breach affecting approximately 9,000 children who are clients of Children’s DisABILITY Services (CDS) in Manitoba Families.
The breach occurred when the department sent an email containing the children’s personal health information to about 100 unintended recipients that are service agencies and community advocates, rather than to one recipient. The email contained a spreadsheet with personal health information about the 9,000 children, including such details as the child’s name, gender, date of birth, address, the nature of their disability and medical or psychological assessment details.
“Personal health information is some of our most sensitive and private information, and we entrust it to government for the purpose of receiving specific benefits or services,” said Ombudsman Jill Perron. “A privacy breach of personal health information can have significant impacts on the affected children and their families. A review of the privacy breach can help an organization strengthen privacy protection practices and adopt preventative measures that will help restore confidence in the program.”
Manitoba Families proactively reported the privacy breach to our office. Under the Personal Health Information Act, the ombudsman may initiate investigations and make recommendations to monitor and ensure compliance with the act.
In an investigation of this kind, our office will review the circumstances of the privacy breach. As part of our review, we will ensure that the department takes all reasonable steps to respond to the breach and that it implements the necessary safeguards to protect the privacy of children and their families who receive services from CDS.
Affected individuals who have questions about the personal health information of their children that was disclosed during the breach should contact the CDS program at 204-945-8900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details about the breach can also be viewed on the CDS website at https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/cds/privacy_breach.html
Any person who has been affected by this breach has the right to make a complaint to the ombudsman. Detailed information about how to make a PHIA complaint and what to expect from an investigation can be found on our website at www.ombudsman.mb.ca/info/making-a-complaint-1.html. More information can also be obtained by contacting our office at email@example.com or 1-800-665-0531.