A blank Excel spreadsheet seen on Sept. 23. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

A blank Excel spreadsheet seen on Sept. 23. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Breach of confidential Health and Social Services records prompts investigation

Yukon government working with police, privacy commissioner to investigate

A data breach investigation is underway after confidential records belonging to the Yukon’s department of Health and Social Services appear to have been obtained by a private citizen.

In an Oct. 14 release, the Yukon government said the breach of information was brought to its attention on Oct. 13.

The government is working closely with the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the RCMP to examine the breach and mitigate potential risks, according to the release.

Cabinet communications told the News no additional information — such as the number of people affected and the specific type of data released — is currently available.

A statement from the office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner confirmed the office notified the department of the alleged breach and is willing to provide guidance on this matter, as required.

“In recent days, a member of the public notified our office that they had acquired records that appear to contain personal information and personal health information,” reads the statement.

“Under the Access to Information and the Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) and the Health Information Privacy and Management Act (HIPMA), a department must investigate any alleged breach and evaluate whether there is any risk of significant harm to anyone as a result. Where a department identifies a risk of significant harm, this triggers a requirement to notify affected individuals, and to provide our office with a breach report outlining what actions they took to mitigate the breach and avoid a recurrence.”

When a breach report is received, the office will evaluate the department’s handling of the breach including the circumstances leading up to the non-compliance and the department’s response and investigation. Based on the evaluation, the office provides the department with recommendations for additional mitigating measures, as required, and to prevent similar breaches going forward.

In the government release, more information will be provided as it becomes available.

The release comes just a few weeks after the Education department came under fire for a high-risk privacy breach that sparked concern for Yukon families.

In the previous case, which has been contained, more than 500 Yukoners had their personal data — including names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth and social insurance numbers — breached.

READ MORE: Privacy breach puts hundreds of Yukoners at significant risk

Contact Dana Hatherly at dana.hatherly@yukon-news.com