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Concerns raised about Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination patient data after information breaches

There are growing concerns about the security of personal information as COVID-19 vaccinations increase across Ontario.

“We have had a few, I underline a few, examples where the vaccination certificate went to the wrong individual. We are proactively working on that and that is something that we were made aware of last week,” Solicitor General Sylvia Jones confirmed on Thursday.

On Friday, Global News reached out to the provincial government after an individual reported receiving someone else’s private information through an e-mail in the form of a vaccination confirmation.

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Jones did not confirm a firm number in terms of how many vaccination receipts have been sent to incorrect individuals, but since Global News highlighted the issue other individuals have come forward.

Burlington resident Brian Morrow said he also received someone else’s receipt. No one in Morrow’s family currently qualifies to get a vaccination and he hasn’t tried to book an appointment.

“It’s sensitive information that shouldn’t be sent to anyone else other than that person,” Morrow recently told Global News.

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“I mean it has the last four digits of your health card, your name, your date of birth, it’s got the hospital or vaccine site where you get vaccinated — that shouldn’t be made public to anyone else.”

Global News also learned of a separate data breach at University Health Network (UHN) involving the information of 200 people that was shared with others in error.

Gillian Howard, a spokesperson for UHN, confirmed the incident in an email statement on Thursday.

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“The error was detected immediately which limited the number of individuals affected and was reported to the UHN privacy office, which in turn reported the breach to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner,” she wrote.

Ontario’s former information and privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, said the breaches are concerning and its incumbent on the government be fully transparent in order to give residents faith their information will be secure if they get vaccinated.

“In my view they do have an obligation to clarify the extent of the problem and how many people have been implicated transparency is extremely important on these issues,” she said.

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