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Government Must Ensure Guardrails Are In Place to Protect Health Information


For Immediate Release

16 February, 2024

 

Lela Evans (Torngat Mountains) is calling on government to ensure the proper safeguards are in place so private information of patients is protected as the province expands digital and virtual health services. Evans says data sovereignty legislation is needed to set the standard for how personal information is protected.

 

“This government must learn from their past failures. We learned through an ATIPP report that government did not listen to multiple warnings that Health Authority information systems needed upgrading because they were vulnerable to security breaches. It was only after personal health information was held for ransom by a Russian hacker group did government begin to heed the warnings and act on what public servants were telling them,” said Evans. “Now we learn from a report published in the BMJ, unbeknownst to users, that virtual healthcare companies in Canada are collecting large amounts of private healthcare information to upsell a patient and increase their profits. We can’t wait for patients to be exploited, we need the guardrails in place as we expand digital services for people in the province.

 

“The BMJ report showed just how valuable patient health information is to private companies and how they will use it to profit in ways a patient might not realize,” said Evans. “Unlike other jurisdictions, our province doesn’t have data sovereignty legislation which would set the standard for how valuable health information is stored and shared to protect patients and users.”

 

If protections aren’t in place and data leaves the country, it’s no longer protected by Canadian law. Evans says it's concerning that the province is signing contracts with large international firms without having appropriate legislation in place.

 

“We know we can’t rely on this government being transparent when it comes to matters of security of patient health information.  We have to learn about these things through ATIPPA or from reports in independent journals such as BMJ.

 

“Patients have already been victims to foreign groups targeting their private health information and holding it ransom,” Evans said. “Government is getting ahead of themselves and should be working on data sovereignty legislation to set the standard given the government is signing contracts with these international firms.”

 

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For further information, contact Eddy St. Coeur, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), or eddystcoeur@gov.nl.ca


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