The NWT’s health authority says an examination of medical records apparently discarded at Fort Simpson’s dump shows 134 people were affected.
In a statement on Wednesday, the health authority said it would now begin contacting those people whose information appeared to have been exposed.
Notifications began on Wednesday. Anyone whose data was among the documents can expect to hear directly from the health authority in the coming days.
The records were initially discovered by a local resident, who kept them for a number of weeks before publishing their existence with CBC News.
The resident, identified by the CBC as Randal Sibbeston, handed the documents to RCMP after contact from the NWT’s information and privacy commissioner and the health authority’s lawyers.
Elaine Keenan Bengts, the information and privacy commissioner, now has custody of the records and is investigating.
“After initial review of the records, it is unclear that they all originated with the GNWT. It has been determined that a more comprehensive investigation will be required to determine their origin,” read a statement from the health authority.
“This investigation will look back at what parties had responsibility for the delivery of programming related to mental health and addictions during the period the records were created,” the authority added. The CBC reported the documents mostly dated from the 1990s, though some were more recent.
“All impacted individuals will receive initial notification by letter,” said the authority, “including how further information will be provided and where they may access supports. An initial review of the records indicates that there are 134 individuals who will be contacted.”
The health authority said anyone who needs additional support can contact their health centre or the NWT Help Line at 1-800-661-0844.
“In any privacy breach, patient notification is the first priority,” read a statement from health authority chief executive Sue Cullen.
“At this point, staff will be undertaking notification and working to provide support where required. A further investigation on the origin of these files will continue alongside the notification process.”
Having admitted there is continued uncertainty as to how the documents came to be dumped, the health authority also asked anyone with information about how the breach happened to come forward and contact either the authority or the information and privacy commissioner.