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The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) has started contacting patients affected by the recent privacy breach in Fort Simpson.

Last week, Fort Simpson resident Randy Sibbeston found a stack of 118 medical records at the town’s dump, which contained personal information about patients’ mental health and substance use.

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.
IPC Elaine Keenan Bengts.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, Elaine Keenan Bengts has launched an investigation into the incident, which will include determining the origins of the files. She expects the investigation will take at least six months, as many of the records are decades old.

The NTHSSA echoed that sentiment in a press release Wednesday.

“After initial review of the records it is unclear that they all originated with the GNWT and it has been determined that a more comprehensive investigation will be required to determine their origin,” the release stated.

“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 NTHSSA will continue to cooperate with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of the Northwest Territories throughout this process.”

Starting yesterday, letters were being sent out to the 134 people affected by the breach, said David Maguire, communications manager at NTHSSA. Maguire could not confirm whether only people in Fort Simpson were affected, or if the files contain information from people in other communities in the territory. The letters contain a notification that their information was affected, how further information will be provided by the department and where they can access support. Individuals who require additional support are being asked to contact their health centre or, if appropriate, the NWT Help Line at 1-800-661-0844.

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Meaghan Richens

Meaghan Richens is from Ottawa, Ont., and grew up in Perth. She moved to Yellowknife in May 2018 after completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Carleton University. She writes about politics,...

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