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Privacy Commissioner investigating possible healthcare breach in Guelph

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health said no names were leaked, but some personal information was accessible

The Privacy Commissioner of Ontario is investigating a possible privacy breach in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health had posted a dashboard on their public website -- which remained active from January 2020 to May 2020 -- that kept track of influenza cases in the community.

No names were attached to cases; however, addresses, specifics on the strain of Influenza, and information on symptoms was available.

"Public Health provides information on health trends in our community," explained Dr. Kyle Wilson, Director of Information Systems and Chief Privacy Officer with WDGPH. "One of our reports contained a problem, so through proactive measures we actually found this technical issue in one of the interactive reports. It's highly unlikely that any of the information was breached, but out of an abundance of caution, we made the announcement in consultation with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario."

The public health unit says that, fortunately, access to the dashboard was fewer than 100 people over its lifetime, making the risk of personal health information being accessed low.

"Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health regrets this incident and has taken steps to ensure that similar events will not occur in the future," said a message on the authority's website. "These steps include a full investigation of the incident, working with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and reinforcing internal processes around privacy.

The vast majority of people impacted by this incident were individuals who tested positive for influenza between January 2, 2011 and January 3, 2020."

If you're concerned that you were affected by the breach, you can use the contact below:

Chief Privacy Officer
160 Chancellors Way
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 0E1
Phone: 1-800-265-7293 ext. 2975

Those affected are also entitled to make a complaint to: 

Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, ON
M4W 1A8
Toll Free: 1-800-387-0073
TDD/TTY: 416-325-7539


Ben Eppel

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