NWT says it’s improving document storage after Fort Simpson breach

Computers display the website of one of the NWT's health authorities
Computers display the website of one of the NWT's health authorities. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

The NWT’s health authority says it is reviewing how documents are stored across the territory after files reportedly turned up at Fort Simpson’s dump.

The privacy commissioner’s report into that 2018 incident, made public in July, condemned the lack of security at a document storage facility in the community and said conditions were “ripe for a similar breach to occur” elsewhere.

Documents relating to 134 people came into the possession of resident Randal Sibbeston, who held on to them for weeks before showing some of them to the CBC. (The commissioner recommended the health authority consider prosecuting Sibbeston over the way in which he used the documents before eventually handing them over when police turned up.)

Responding to the commissioner’s report, the health authority said the Fort Simpson incident was “a critical event for our organization and we recognize the impact this has had on the trust in our system.”



The authority described what it called a “comprehensive internal investigation” after discovering Sibbeston had the documents – including two searches of Fort Simpson’s dump, before and after the snow had melted, which turned up no additional files.

Sibbeston told Cabin Radio last week he is sure there are still “thousands” of files at the dump.

The authority’s statement did not touch on the privacy commissioner’s extensive criticism of its chief operating officer in the Dehcho, who – commissioner Elaine Keenan Bengts wrote – “took no steps to investigate the matter and ensure that the records [were] under his custody and control.”

Instead, the authority said all locks on storage cages at the Fort Simpson facility had been replaced, missing keys had been relocated, documents had been moved to the most secure storage cage, and the storage room door was now being kept shut and locked at all times. (Keenan Bengts described investigators finding the door unlocked on multiple occasions.)



Training has been reviewed, the authority said, and an ongoing “special project” is examining “all current document storage locations” across the NWT.

The health authority said it accepted 13 of the privacy commissioner’s 15 recommendations, though it did not specify which two were not accepted.

“We continue to highlight the importance of this work to staff across the authority and are committed to continued improvement in the area of records management and patient privacy,” the statement concluded.