News Releases

Media Bulletin - Manitoba

September 10, 2020

MANITOBA FAMILIES WELCOMES OMBUDSMAN INVESTIGATION TO ENSURE PRIVACY, SECURITY OF CLIENT INFORMATION



Manitoba Families welcomes and will fully co-operate with an investigation launched today by the Manitoba Ombudsman, which will focus on protecting personal information and preventing privacy breaches. To help ensure clarity and best practices are put in place, the minister of families has responded to the ombudsman today and asked for her assistance on the development of a new information management protocol, which would guide how personal information should be shared with the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth and other independent offices and organizations.  
 
On Aug. 28, the department reported a privacy breach affecting about 9,000 children who are clients of Children’s disABILITY Services. Their personal information was being provided to the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth but, because of a human error, was also shared with service agencies and advocacy organizations that work with people with disabilities. The information included personal information about these children, including their diagnosis and address, but did not include personal health identification numbers, social insurance numbers or any financial information.
 
Manitoba Families has since contacted all affected families to advise them of the breach. The department has also reached out to all agencies that received the information to ensure it has been deleted. This breach highlighted the need for the department to develop stronger and more comprehensive policies on how information is secured and shared.  
 
The breach was reported to the Manitoba Ombudsman, which is standard practice. Manitoba Families also launched a forensic audit of its Children’s disABILITY Services emails and did not find any other breaches. Recognizing that it serves thousands of Manitobans, many considered vulnerable or with complex needs, the department has also put additional measures in place to help prevent errors in the future. A training webinar is being offered to employees this week focused on their responsibilities related to privacy and personal health information, how to send information more securely, strategies to help prevent privacy breaches and what to do if one occurs. All requests for client information from external organizations must now also be more formally reviewed by the department’s privacy unit to better protect clients’ personal information. 
 
A copy of a letter sent to the Manitoba Ombudsman today, along with more information for parents and caregivers about the privacy breach, is available at www.gov.mb.ca/fs/cds/privacy_breach.html
 
- 30 -