GNWT announces privacy breach involving Covid-19 isolation forms
Around 2,000 Covid-19 isolation centre forms were found in a filing cabinet that had been surplussed to a territorial government warehouse, the GNWT said in a press release announcing the “low-risk privacy breach.”
While the forms never left the GNWT’s custody and the risk to clients affected is considered minimal, they should not have been accidentally transferred to the territory’s department of infrastructure warehouse from the Covid-19 coordinating secretariat.
The forms have since been transferred to the health department’s health privacy unit and are being stored in a secure office.
The damage responsibility forms, which were dated between August 2020 and April 2021, were filled out by people staying in Yellowknife Covid-19 isolation centres. On the forms, residents and non-residents had written their names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.
The forms were placed in a filing cabinet and apparently forgotten about, as the filing cabinet was sent to the infrastructure warehouse without being emptied.
Under the NWT Health Information Act, the GNWT must notify everyone whose health information may have been breached.
The territorial government encouraged anyone who stayed at a Yellowknife isolation centre between August 2020 and April 2021 who has concerns to email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meanwhile, the GNWT expects to submit a final privacy breach report to the information and privacy commissioner by December 16.
In October, the territory’s information and privacy commissioner reported the number of health privacy breaches reported in the NWT had nearly tripled from the year prior, with reasons ranging from Covid-19 data incidents to improvements in reporting.
There were 234 files opened relating to alleged breaches of the Health Information Act between April 2021 and March 2022 – up from 87 cases in the fiscal year prior.