Personal info of thousands of disability support recipients compromised
Sumran Bhan, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, January 21, 2019 7:18PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 21, 2019 10:01PM EST
A privacy breach involving a social services office in Mississauga impacts thousands of recipients of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), CTV News Toronto has learned.
A letter from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, sent to those affected, says the breach was caused by an “error.”
“On December 20, The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services sent an email to approximately 100 ODSP recipients about service improvements we are making to give recipients online access to the ODSP case information,” the letter states.
“An attachment was inadvertently included in that email which contained individuals’ names, identification numbers and email addresses.”
The letter goes on to say that no personal financial information or home addresses were compromised.
The ministry confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the spreadsheet that was shared contained the information of 45,000 people. The ministry also confirmed that no social insurance numbers were shared.
One person impacted by the breach, who wished to remain anonymous, said they are concerned about what others may do with the information.
“It is the unknown that has me worried and stressed,” they said over the phone. “I wouldn’t know what to do with somebody’s information … but there are people out there who do know how to use that to make money. Just because I don’t know how to do it, doesn’t mean there isn’t somebody else that knows how to do it.”
Seventy-five of the 100 people who accidentally received the data have agreed to delete it, according to the ministry. There are 25 recipients who remain outstanding.
Lisa MacLeod, the minister of social services, issued a statement on Monday evening apologizing for the incident.
“As soon as I was notified of this privacy breach, I took steps to ensure those impacted and the privacy commissioner were notified, and that processes and procedures were reviewed so that mistakes like this don’t happen again,” Macleod said.
“I sincerely apologize for this incident and want to ensure the public that we take this seriously.”