Disability recipients whose information was breached are set to sue the province
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2019 6:02PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2019 7:44PM EST
Several disability support recipients whose personal information was compromised in December are launching a class action lawsuit against the Ford government, CTV News Toronto has learned.
The minister of social services and attorney general both received letters on Wednesday afternoon from Toronto law firm Rochon Genova LLP, which says it was contacted by more than a dozen people affected by a significant data breach.
“The letter puts the government on notice that we will commence legal action in 60 days on behalf of the 45,000 people who are affected by the beach,” said Ron Podolny, a partner at the firm.
The breach, which took place at the Mississauga Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) office on Dec 20,is being blamed on a human clerical error. An email, sent to 100 ODSP recipients notifying them of improvements to the website portal, also included a spreadsheet with the names, client identification numbers and email addresses of 45,000 support recipients.
A letter notifying the thousands of people affected by the breach was sent one month after the information was compromised.
“The government has to make it right,” Podolny told CTV News Toronto.
“It has to fix the consequences of this data breach. It has to investigate who received this information and to make sure the information is deleted -- to make sure that the information has not been forwarded or misused.”
Podolny says the class action lawsuit will also look for financial compensation for the distress the breach has caused.
NDP MPP Peter Tabuns says he understands the anger being expressed by those who were affected.
“If I were those people, not only would I be wanting to protect myself in the future, but I would be really angry and looking to get back at those who put me in a vulnerable position.”
Tabuns is also raising questions about why the data was compiled in a spreadsheet in the first place and why it was emailed out.
On Tuesday, Social Services Minister Lisa Macleod said technology infrastructure upgrades were being made within the ministry, indicating the system being put into place would be better than “simply having an Excel spreadsheet that can be emailed.”
The ministry is also working to ensure every single copy of the original email and attachment has been deleted. Officials said while 75 people complied with a request to delete the email, the remaining 25 people have yet to respond.
The ministry of social services, the attorney general and the Premier’s Office have responded to CTV News Toronto’s requests for a comment.