Investigation into privacy breach affecting children with disabilities in Manitoba begins

By | September 10, 2020

WINNIPEG — An investigation into a privacy breach that impacted almost 9,000 children with disabilities in Manitoba is now underway.

The Manitoba Ombudsman confirmed the news on Thursday, noting it had started an investigation into Manitoba Families, which oversees the Children’s Disability Services (CDS).

“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 in a statement. “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.”

CTV News Winnipeg previously reported the privacy breach occurred on Aug. 26 when an email containing personal health information of approximately 9,000 CDS clients was sent to approximately 100 agencies and advocate groups. The message was originally intended for the Manitoba Child and Youth Advocate, who was reviewing a matter. The message contained personal information about the children, including their diagnoses and addresses, but did not include personal health identification numbers, social insurance numbers, or any financial information.

Manitoba Families said “human error” was to blame for the breach and said it followed up with the organizations to ensure the information was deleted.

In a statement, Manitoba Families Minister Heather Stefanson said her department would cooperate with the investigation.

“The department is currently evaluating the risks associated with the breach, and will be working to improve our safeguards to prevent future breaches,” Stefanson wrote.

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