If you can’t protect it, don’t collect it.

Personal health information is one of the most sensitive categories of personal information held by public bodies. (11)

Personal health information is much more than ‘just data’ – it is sensitive information provided confidentially in the context of care. (11)

The politicians and all their friends keep lying about protecting our information. For example:

  1. The BC Ministry of Health was tipped, in March of 2012*, by the office of the BC Auditor General that it had “received an anonymous allegation about contracting irregularities and research practices, including inappropriate access to personal information” at the Pharmaceutical Services Division. (11) Another ministry division was also involved.(11)

The Health Ministry fired seven people and froze several drug research contracts. (42)

The B.C. Privacy Commissioner conducted an investigation after the Ministry of Health revealed, on July 13, 2012, that “government employees downloaded large amounts of personal health data onto unencrypted flash drives and provided it to unauthorized individuals”.   And this wasn’t one loss.  First it was unauthorized sharing of 21,000 people.  Then it was 38,000 people.  Then it was “the data of five million** British Columbia’s covering a number of years.”  According to Wikipedia, the population of BC in 2011 was 4,400,057.  In other words, everyone’s information was shared NON-anonymously, including those who had moved out of province.  It included “sexual history, Medical Service Plan claims, hospital admission records, healthcare numbers, dates of birth and gender.” (1, 6) plus “alcohol and drug use, … postal codes” (2).  Enough information to identify the patients.

“One incident breached an agreement with Statistics Canada involving 38,000 people whose information in the Canadian Community Health Survey was collected from census data between 2000 and 2010, said a Health Ministry spokesman.” “Individuals participated in that survey and shared their most sensitive information such as sexual health and sexual preferences on the basis that that information would not be shared,” she said. (2)

“There was an agreement and a consent to have that information used only for specific purposes within the Ministry of Health. When that information was disclosed that was really a breach of an agreement and it goes to the issue of trust that individuals have in the health-care system.” (2) Statistics Canada had promised individuals who completed the survey that the Ministry would not disclose any of their information in personally identifiable form. (11)  Again, the government just lies.  They either didn’t check the Ministry of Health to determine if there was adequate security or they didn’t care.  Statistics Canada was apparently content with a worthless agreement, and, it seems, has taken no action on the violation of the agreement.

Margaret MacDiarmid said that “It appeared researchers were getting data for one purpose, then using it for another research purpose”. (14) 0`

“The purported recipients of the information were two contractors and a researcher” (11) and involved the University of Victoria, University of BC and the Therapeutics Initiative.

BC’s Privacy Commissioner made 11 recommendations (Note: the privacy commissioner can only recommend, not enforce).  You can read the report at www.oipc.bc.ca , Investigation Report F13-02, dated June 16, 2013.  “The report does not address criminal or civil culpability on the part of the Ministry, its employees or contractors. “

Some points from the report (35 pages, some of it repetitive):

– The Privacy Commissioner stated the Ministry didn’t even have “adequate safeguards to protect personal information, both in the delivery of health care and research using health data.” (11) (bolding/italics mine)

– The ministry failed to translate privacy and security policies into meaningful business practices. The primary deficiency at the ministry was a lack of effective governance, management and controls over access to personal health information. (11)  In other words, the policies, the protection of our information, were just words on paper.

– The information was shared via portable storage devices (easily lost/stolen/copied/given away).

– “The ministry didn’t have an inventory of its personal-information databases or a program to monitor any unauthorized use and disclosure of citizens’ information by contracted and academic researchers”. (3) So, people could steal this information and sell/trade/barter it without risk of being caught, unless a whistleblower comes forward, and maybe not even then.                                                                                                  – “There were no mechanisms to ensure that researchers were complying with the privacy requirements, as stipulated in contracts and written agreements”. (11)  Again, the contracts/agreements were just worthless words on paper.                                                 – There were insufficient physical and technological safeguards to prevent copying of sensitive personal information onto portable storage devices. The Ministry failed to monitor the access, use and disclosure of sensitive personal information. It also failed to impose effective security provisions in some of its contracts and information sharing agreements. Given the level of sensitivity of the personal information involved, the Ministry did not provide reasonable security. (11)

Terry Lake, Minister of Health as of June 10, 2013, blamed the employee’s for the lack of “mechanisms to ensure that researchers were complying with the privacy requirements”. (48) Isn’t that the Minister’s job to ensure “mechanism’s” are in place for the proper running of a ministry?  Plus, this went beyond researchers; the Ministry didn’t have adequate safeguards even for the delivery of health care.  But this is typical politician behaviour to blame someone else for the politicians obvious incompetence or chosen behaviour.

In a report, dated February 9, 2009, The Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner, Paul Fraser, “found MCFD and MHSD failed to make reasonable security arrangements to protect personal information from risks such as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure or disposal as required by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). In addition, ‘Commissioner Fraser found a troubling lack of knowledge within the Ministries about the rules respecting the protection of personal information’”. (prior post, Privacy Breaches, 11 Jun 2011)

And again, a report was released in 2010 by then Auditor General John Doyle who had conducted an audit of a Vancouver Coastal Health Authority database   He found almost identical “problems”.  (prior post “Auditor General – PARIS report” 24 May 2010)           So, nothing changes.

It sounds like the Ministry of Health has been running a free-for-all. They only knew about this “breach” from a whistleblower (so they say).  There is a minister of health, a deputy minister, assistant deputy ministers, associate deputy minister… – and no one knows what’s going on (or more likely they do and chose to have it this way).  And there is no doubt this “breach” is the tip of the iceberg, since this lack of privacy protection has been going on for 20+ years. (49)

The term “breach”, has a couple of definitions. One definition is “to make an opening in” (as in a security system)  But I think you first have to have a security system to “breach”.  The second definition is to “break or act contrary to (a law, a promise)”. (Wikipedia)  This post uses the second definition of breach.  Christy Clark and other BC premiers and their lackeys, breached or contravened the privacy act, for 20+ years, by, for all intents and purposes, not having a security system and broke a promise to the people to protect their information.  The fired contractors/employees were believed to have committed a breach by accessing/sharing patient information without authorization (illegally?).

So what really happened?   CBC News has provided a timeline of the events but we still don’t know what really happened. (55)  I do know that there are only two people I trust who were involved in this whole disgraceful affair, Alana James (whistleblower) and John Doyle (former auditor general)(more information on John Doyle***). Unlike the researchers, these two came forward when the only thing they had to gain was maintaining their self-respect and integrity.  And they risked losing their jobs, which they did.

But some points to consider are (note the many contradictions and outright lies in this scandalous fiasco): (40)

– The ministry did not discover the unauthorized disclosures until a whistleblower came forward, leading to a review of thousands of emails and files on the hard drives of several employees. (11) The whistleblower, Alana James, is no longer working for the government either by choice (disgusted with the way things operate?) or “let go” (government doesn’t want someone who works for the people?)

– Alana James “had been raising concerns about the legality of numerous contracts the ministry had entered” “for several years before the firings“. (25) She had contacted eight senior ministry officials about her concerns  and “they were saying policy trumped the law and government could do what it wants even if it breaches the law and legislation”.   Alana James also identifies quite a lot of concerns that the Ministry of Health did not address in their investigation. (17)

– Two of the employees settled wrongful dismissal and defamation suits out of court and were rehired (Bob Hart and Malcolm Maclure), a third employee (Ron Mattson) received an out of court settlement and an apology and retired. These settlements were done behind closed doors and with a non-disclosure clause.  Bill Warburton has settled his lawsuit with the province but has filed a defamation claim against Margaret MacDermid. (43, 9, 44)   Dave Scott and Ramsay Hamdi remain fired.  Roderick MacIssac committed suicide. (12,18, 45, 46).  Rebecca Warburton has her case before the courts. Why were the non-union employees rehired/retired (except Rebecca Warburton) but the two union people were not rehired and yet not charged with an offence/crime? (13)  A source claims the non-union employees threatened to tell what is really going on. (23)   Is there something that prevents union employees from doing the same thing?

– The firings were done by Graham Whitmarsh, deputy health minister “on the first day that Margaret MacDiarmid was health minister”. (12) She replaced Mike de Jong who was moved to the Finance Ministry.(20)   What interesting timing!  Did Christy think he was too much of a political asset to take responsibility for his actions (or lack of actions)?  The breaches happened on his watch, the initial investigation which led to the suspension, and later firing of seven employees occurred on his watch and the lack of overall privacy protection continued on his watch.  Now, it appears, he ran and hid in another ministry.  Isn’t that called being a coward?  And, he can claim that he “can’t comment” on what is going on in another ministry and MacDiarmid can claim that she was not minister at the time it happened so she can’t answer what happened.

– Mike de Jong said about the situation: “”it’s disappointing, it’s troubling.” “One of the things I as health minister had endeavoured to promote is responsible access to the treasure trove of data we hold as a society with a PharmaCare program”; (20) “It’s not clear at all to me and I don’t believe it’s clear to anyone as to why this happened,” said MacDiarmid.(5) Now that they have had time to read the privacy commissioner’s report perhaps the ministers could explain what they do to earn their large pay-cheques, expense accounts and golden pensions.  Imagine if a bank was robbed and an executive said “I didn’t know there wasn’t any security” or “we had no security because we expected everyone to be honest.” How long would that executive be employed?  So, are they incredibly incompetent, liars or both?

– We have paid for an internal investigation, RCMP responding to claims of an investigation (a non-existent investigation), a privacy commissioner investigation, a University of BC investigation, and possibly a University of Victoria investigation, settlements to fired employees, a pending court case, 37,000 notifications of the breach, $1.1 million (or $950 per phone call) to Maximus for a toll-free call centre, $400,000 in severance payments to Graham Whitmarsh (18) and on and on. “It is worth noting the high costs of such after-the-fact privacy breach management as opposed to investing in comprehensive privacy and security risk management up front. Senior management time is an especially high component of this burden.” (11) I think the management should have worked for free, then been fired.   But no management has been held responsible for the “breach”, for the lack of privacy protection and there has been no accountability.  Whitmarsh was fired, without cause, with a $461,643 severance package. (55)  The citizens, will just work a little harder, work a little longer, or do without to pay for the useless, incompetent, self-serving politicians and their toadies.

– “The Ministry believed the research credentials of the individuals involved suggested that there was little risk for misuse” of patient information. (11)  How convenient.  Excuse me but aren’t these the people who, “without authorization” (illegally?) requested, shared and accepted confidential patient information!!!

– Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid said “We want the data back” (1). How stupid can you be (but I guess it sounds good in the press).  You don’t get it back especially after several years. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. “In attempting to contain the breaches, the Ministry had to rely on declarations from the employees and contracted researchers under investigation that they did not have any Ministry information stored outside the confines of the Ministry.”(11)  In other words, the Ministry is, again, relying on the word of people who had “without authorization” (illegally?) given and accepted identifiable patient information.  One person said they had deleted the information from their hard drive.  But, my understanding is that if information is transferred onto your computer and then deleted, it is not totally gone, unless the hard drive is wiped clean.  I doubt very much if that was done.  Also, these systems usually have at least one backup.  This shows, again, that the ministry has no idea (or doesn’t care) how our information is accessed or shared.

– “Jim Wright, the managing director of the University of B.C. pharmaceutical research group” said people working with him “only get fully anonymous data, making a privacy breach impossible”.(33) The Privacy Commissioner’s report said a contractor (doesn’t mention which university) “requested that the personal health numbers (PHNs) be masked or removed, as the testing process did not need such sensitive personal information.” (11).  This seems to imply that the norm is to give the information NON-anonymously.

– The press keeps repeating, or paraphrasing, the MacDiarmid statement that “there was no evidence that anyone had benefited financially from the breaches and that the data had been used for nothing other than public health research”.(36) This is misleading at best. What isn’t being said is that there was no evidence that anyone hadn’t benefited financially or that data had not been used for purposes other than public health research.  The government was so mismanaged (intentionally or just incompetently) that they had no record of what was happening to our information.  They only became aware of two cases of “unauthorized” (illegal?) access/sharing (or so they say) because the employee’s accessed and shared the information after they were told that they were being investigated. (11, 30)  Presumably, they found out about the 2010 “unauthorized” access/sharing by stumbling across some emails.

And, do you really believe that in 20+ years no one personally benefited from sharing our information, especially when there was virtually no chance of getting caught. Just think of all the people/organizations who would willingly pay a lot of money for this “treasure trove” of information.  Example, “records were allegedly stolen from two Toronto hospitals and used to market registered education savings plans to new mothers.” (34)  Just because a criminal has not been caught or convicted (see prior post “Nurses”,  Nov. 12, 2008) does not mean a crime has not happened.

– “The Ministry convened a news conference on January 14, 2013, to inform the public of details of the breaches (three months after the September 2012 announcement, and 10 months after being notified of the breach, or so they say). It mailed letters of notification to affected individuals (approximately 37,000) in batches over five days starting on January 16, 2013. The Ministry made use of a website and a toll-free call centre to make additional information available to affected individuals”. (11) A lot of people would not have known about the unauthorized access/sharing, especially if they had left the province.  But presumably the turdits didn’t want to mail out over 4 to 5 million notifications.  And how much personal information was a person required to give the foreign-owned call centre, and their probably low-paid employee’s, to get scripted answers?

I also find it interesting that the media labels this as a ministry firing scandal and not as a ministry privacy violation scandal (of epic proportions). Is this because it’s so shocking that someone would get fired for violating our privacy but the massive violation of our privacy is so common or is this to deflect attention away from the 20+ years of privacy violation?

Dix, and others, including the media, have also portrayed this as the government making up a fictitious situation to close down the Therapeutics Initiative. He implies that the people involved are innocent. Therefore, he is implying that Alana James is lying, that the Privacy Commissioner is lying, that information was not transferred “without authorization” (illegally?), and that the union was incompetent because they couldn’t protect innocent union members.  Maybe this is a distraction, a red herring because he can’t condemn the essentially non-existent protection of our information because both the NDP and Liberal governments have allowed the medical business to ignore FIPPA, to lie about the protection of patient information for 20+ years.  Although I do wonder if having an essentially non-existent security system makes it easier to get information to their friends (party contributors).  Is this how they get the large pharmaceutical companies to locate in BC?  (21)  I’ve read that the collusion between government and Big Pharma borders on criminal.

Do these comments sound like we were dealing with innocent people? Does it sound like these people have any remorse for what they did/are doing?  Alana James said that the ministry was making data disclosures, which were illegal, to outside researchers every week. (17)  And, “I have been told things such as: I don’t understand how government works; that it doesn’t matter what the legislation says, we have government policy; that it’s unfortunate that we don’t follow the law but that we plan on changing the legislation at some point so that we will.”(28)  “Moreover, they’d been doing the job the same way for years with the approval of their superiors. ‘There was a whole chain of command that knew what I was doing,’” one of the people fired said. (14)  Dix said the government ”targeted a small group of people who were acting in ways that were well known and accepted in the ministry”. (25)  But that doesn’t make it legal or acceptable. If you hit a person because you were told to, does that make you any less guilty of assault?  I believe that just makes you both guilty.  It’s just a question of exactly WHO is guilty.  And it also indicates the complete contempt the politicians and their toadies have for the law. (41)

Also, it’s possible that Dix’s is just trying to brainwash people into believing that the medical/research system is trustworthy so people will be gullible enough to continue to give personal information to be sold/traded/bartered to all their political friends.

Dix’s is calling for an investigation, which should happen, but it’s a safe demand because, with a Liberal majority, it won’t happen.

It appears that the only investigation into what happened was a review by the health ministry in 2014. However, this review was only focused on policies and procedures on how the public service responds to allegations of employee misconduct, not on the actual decisions themselves, not on who fired whom and for what reason, or who wrote deficient contracts. (18) And they certainly did not investigate why the Ministry of Health didn’t even have “adequate safeguards to protect personal information.  The government stated that the 2014 review will not be put on the internet for privacy reasons (seems they have a sense of humour). (8)   Stephen Brown, deputy health minister, was suppose to have conducted a review, in 2013, that led to the rehiring of some fired employees.  However, an FOI request received a “no records” of the review response. (24)  And, what happened to the information on the initial investigation, in 2012, that led to the firings and all the files that were suppose to be turned over to the RCMP. (5)

“British Columbia’s Health Minister has called in the RCMP”, “last month, after reviewing the internal probe results, the ministry handed its files over to the Mounties.” (5) MacDiarmid was health minister at the time.   In 2013 Lake, health minister, said they continue to share information with the RCMP… ”So it will be up to the RCMP to determine next steps based on their conclusions from the investigation.” (7)   RCMP had been asked to investigate allegations (22, 3, 31).  A source told the Tyee “They seemed to make the decision about the fired people and told the whistleblower that if they wouldn’t take the issues public they would deal with it internally but that their role was to protect the government as the employer and thus they wouldn’t be pursuing people higher up.” (23)   The government then said that it doesn’t want the RCMP to investigate. (36).  Also, did you note that “their role was to protect the government as the employer”.  Isn’t it time that the people got back to being the employer so the people are protected?  The RCMP have stated that the politicians lied, that there was no investigation and they “largely relied upon media reports to track the case”. (38)  Then, Christy Clark admitted that they had “misled” (blatantly lied to) the public about the non-existent investigation for three years, but only admitted it after the Vancouver Sun released documents, obtained through a freedom of information request, incriminating the politicians. (47).  If you or I lied and used the RCMP, wouldn’t we be charged, at least with mischief or some such thing.  So why aren’t the politicians charged?  And why did the politicians lie about an RCMP investigation?

“The Vancouver Sun’s Vaughn Palmer revealed that the comptroller general’s office has been conducting an investigation into ‘suspected financial improprieties in procurement and contracting procedures in the pharmaceutical research division of the ministry of health,’ since October 2012. (3) The findings are to be kept confidential except to ‘assist RCMP or other law enforcement agency with a criminal investigation or prosecution.’”(28).  It appears that this “investigation” is going in the same direction as the health privacy breach/firings. (39)

“What we’re trying to do is capitalize on data collection that is anonymous,” said Minister de Jong. “Protecting individual privacy remains a hallmark and a fundamental priority.” (15) The Privacy Commissioner’s office obviously disagrees, as does all the evidence. And Ministry of Health claims they didn’t have the resources for protection. (11)  But everyone in the health business says our information is protected.  All these conflicting statements (lies).  And note that they had the money for the Integrated Management System (see post of same title, June 14, 2011).  So they had the money to link all our information but none to protect it.  Sounds about right for the turdits.

The privacy commissioner has 11 recommendations. Do you really think they will be implemented?  Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which governs public bodies, came into effect October 1993.  So, it’s been 20+ years since this privacy act came into effect and obviously they have ignored it so far.                                                                                                                                                                      The privacy commissioner also claims that the Health Ministry is “fixing” things.  But, of course, she only has their word, which hasn’t been worth a damn for 20+ years.  They quickly came up with millions to “contain” the “unauthorized” (illegal?) access/sharing.  And, suddenly, there was no problem coming up with the money to “fix the system” now that they had been “found out”, or so they said.  PROVE IT.

The government has looked into joint medical research with India (32) and has held workshops to encourage “BC researchers to compete for contracts from the United States military”(35) and were in discussions to sell (openly/legally) our information (36); that was “officially” suspended, but for how long. So all the people in foreign countries will have our information, if they don’t already have it.  And it will be identifiable because we know the government/medical business make a mockery of the word “anonymous”.

And they passed Bill 35 which is pharmaceutical legislation to increase use of patient information with reduced accountability, including sharing our information outside of Canada. (15, 37) (also see post “Bill 35 – Pharmaceutical Act” 25 Sept. 2012).

Now the turdits are going to do another “investigation” to quiet all the questions around this sordid affair. BUT it will be done by the Ombudsperson, Jay Chalke, who isn’t qualified to do it and is subject to many restrictions.  Also, it will be done behind closed doors. (50)(51) They claim that it would be too expensive and time consuming to have a public inquiry.  Which is more expensive:  a useless investigation by the Ombudsperson, designed to be a whitewash, or a REAL public inquiry, designed to get answers.

The fired people, plus Roderick MacIssac’s sister, have issued a letter requesting a public inquiry. I find this more than a “bit” hypocritical coming from those (not MacIssac’s sister), who had an opportunity to get this into the open by going to court but instead settled behind closed doors, with a non-disclosure clause.  Are some of them doing a “Dix” (including Graham Whitmarsh), demanding a public inquiry, because it makes them look good, when they know it will never happen?  However, the points they outline in their letter regarding why there needs to be a public inquiry are valid. (42, 53)

But, even with a public inquiry you need people with some ethics, integrity and moral fibre, to tell the truth and not just lie, or a damn good lawyer who can get to the truth.

More importantly, B.C.’s former auditor general says the government needs a fully independent public inquiry into the firings of health researchers because allegations of improper activities go all the way up to the politicians.

“John Doyle, who received the whistle-blower’s original complaints that led to the government’s investigation in 2012, said appointing the Ombudsman to review the case would be a ‘waste of time’ because it would too limited to capture the full scope of potential problems.

‘My view is that this isn’t just about a few people in the health department,” he told The Vancouver Sun in an interview Thursday.

‘The information that we were getting covered a lot of government and a lot of behaviour right up to the political levels.  Some of the issues also involved the Ministry of Justice, said Doyle, where Jay Chalke worked as a senior official for the past four years, before starting as Ombudsman Thursday.  The government is poised to appoint Chalke’s office to look into the matter. He shouldn’t be involved, said Doyle.  ‘If they are going to narrow the inquiry right down to looking at the firings, then it doesn’t matter who does it because it’s a waste of time anyway,’ said Doyle.  They’ve done that to death already. It’s really about the patterns of behaviour, the movement of funds, the decision making that was going on in regard to quite a range of different activities, and the interaction with senior politicians .”’ (49)

Doyle suggested a corruption commission model used in Australia, where he is now the auditor general for the State of Victoria. “I believe the agenda is going to be swung towards the seven or eight people who were fired. And really that’s a smokescreen. Some of them were right in the middle of it but some of them were in the periphery. The big things occurring outside the health ministry were some more senior people and a lot of, as I said, politicians involved in the process as well .“ (49)

An Aside: John Doyle and Alana James married and are living in Australia.  I am happy that two such people with ethics, decency, integrity, and bravery got together.  Congratulations to Australia for getting our best.  And BC gets left with the scrapings of humanity.

In addition, David Ostrow violated the privacy act (see post Auditor General – PARIS report, May 24, 2010), de Jong was in charge when the recent health violations occurred and the health ministry violated the privacy act, Margaret MacDiarmid lied about the RCMP (and gawd knows what else) and Terry Lake continued the lie(s), and these people still work in the government. In fact, MacDiarmid was fired by the people when she was voted out of government in the last election but Christy flipped the citizens the finger and gave her a job on the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority board.  That tells me that all of this is run from the top of the dung pile.  Whatever Christy is hiding, about what she/they are doing to us, must be pretty damning.  WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO US!!!

Plus, “The deputy minister of health sent an email yesterday to all staff in the ministry asking them not to delete or destroy any records related to the 2012 firings that the provincial ombudsperson is investigating”, at the request of the ombudsman. “Health policy researcher and author Alan Cassels said that it’s odd that Brown would be reminding people to keep records three years after the firings were made. ‘The horse hasn’t just escaped from the barn, the barn’s burned down,’ he said.  Despite numerous requests to the government since 2012 for information about the firings, little that’s substantial has been released, Cassels said. ‘To be told there aren’t any records, it stretches credibility to the breaking point. You just can’t believe them.'” (52)

If the NDP were to get “in power”, do you really think they would have a full public inquiry of the scandal? I don’t.  They would cover for their compatriots as they would expect their compatriots to cover for them, not to mention that the NDP are likely just as guilty.

The reality is that the only people who can call a public inquiry and get the truth out in the
open are the accused (the politicians and their lackeys), and obviously they are not going to
do it.  We have no means to hold the government accountable — do you call that a democracy?

So, sit back folks in BC and start counting the millions more that will be wasted in the charade, all to cover up what the politicians are doing to the people. I have no doubt that the politicians, and many others, know exactly what happened and why.  But, the people can just work harder, or work longer to make up the millions, or do without.  The people doing without will be the children, the homeless, the disabled, the aged …. but the politicians don’t care.

Lies, lies, more lies, constant contradictions and cover-ups. It isn’t just a case of breaching security measures, it’s a case of not having security measures.  It’s a case of intentionally violating the privacy laws for 20+ years. Common sense indicates that the “unauthorized” (illegal?) access/sharing we hear about are just a tiny fraction of the violations of our privacy.

It’s a culture of secrecy, of lies, of deviousness, of corruption…. and the culture is set at the top, at the Premier’s office. And followed, blindly, by her toadies, with the rare exception of someone like Alana James, someone who has ethics, morals, and a backbone.  This attitude (contempt, disrespect) toward the people and this “government/medical” sense of entitlement is the core problem.  And until that changes the privacy situation won’t get any better.

I might not mind my information being shared with researchers if I believed they had my back; If patient information was not being protected, that the researchers would make that known. But they don’t (see future post “complicit”) . I have not heard of one person, in 20+ years, speaking up (Alana James was not a researcher).   The first rule in medical research should be to protect the patient’s rights and confidentiality.  Currently, this is either their last rule or not even on their radar. Yet these are the people the privacy commissioner tries to portray as paragons of virtue.  You would think these researchers would speak up, or otherwise let it be known, as a matter of professional integrity.  Plus, “Government employees are sworn to uphold Standards of Conduct as explained by a policy statement which clearly states: ‘Employees have a duty to report any situation relevant to the BC Public Service that they believe contravenes the law, misuses public funds or assets, or represents a danger to public health and safety or a significant danger to the environment.’” (21)  But they don’t care about us.  Another government/medical business contradiction, and meaningless words on paper because the only person to uphold the Standards of Conduct is no longer with the government/medical business.

It doesn’t matter what the medical/research people are doing. The ends do not justify the means.  Under no circumstances should they have the right, or sense of entitlement, to treat us like lab rats, a commodity to be used and abused as THEY choose, with no accountability or transparency to the citizens, much less real consent by the patients.

But, all we see here is the scorn the medical/research/government people have for the citizens. And they expect us to trust them.  In my opinion, you would have to be brain-dead, or a masochist, to voluntarily give these people any information.  They have lost all credibility, all trust, all respect.




*This date may be not be correct due to another government “inconsistency”.

** This number has varied between 4 million and 5 million. So, presumably the government doesn’t even know how much information was “shared”.  Any number over the current population could be due to including the information of people who have left the province.

***Champions are hard to find, harder to keep, 06 Feb 2013, Burnaby Now (Our View); Keeping Accounts, 10 Apr 2013, Newsleader (Newsleader’s View); Expense cleanup must continue, Tom Fletcher, 12 Jun 2013, Black Press; also see posts “Auditor General – PARIS Report”, 24 May 2010 and “Auditor General”, 10 Jun 2011 and “Auditor General John Doyle”, 13 Apr 2013; Protect whistleblowers to protect public good, 12 Dec 2012, Burnaby Now (Our View)


  1. Health data of millions breached – Tyler Orton, 13 Jan 2013, 24 Hours
  2. Protect personal health info with security measures: privacy commissioner – Camille Bains, 26 June 2013, The Associated Press
  3. Vaughn Palmer: The plot just thickened on those mysterious government health firings – Vaughn Palmer, 15 Oct 2014, Vancouver Sun (a paper I didn’t buy)
  4. Policies tightened on pharmaceutical deals – 6 Sep 2012, 24 Hours
  5. B.C. Health ministry says RCMP called to investigate conflict allegations – Dirk Meissner, 06 Nov 2012, The Canadian Press
  6. B.C. Health ministry suspends workers over privacy breach – Jonathan Fowlie, 14 Sep 2012, Vancouver Sun
  7. Protect personal health info with security measure privacy commissioner – 26 Jun 2013, The Canadian Press
  8. Fork over Full Health Firings Findings: Dix – Andrew MacLeod, 12 Jan 2015TheTyee.ca
  9. Health Worker fired to Protect Liberal Donors, Suit Alleges – Andrew MacLeod, 07 May 2013, TheTyee.ca
  10. Health Ministry Firings Review an ‘Accountability Gong Show,’ Says NDP – Andrew MacLeod, 22 Feb 2014, TheTyee.ca
  11. Investigation Report F13-02, Ministry of Health – Hamish Flannigan and Pat Egan, 26 Jun 2013, Privacy Commissioner’s Office
  12. Fired Researcher Who Killed Self Was Evaluating Drug Backed by Clark – Andrew MacLeod, 03 Oct 2014, TheTyee.ca
  13. Health Ministry Mum on Fired Worker’s Rehiring – Andrew MacLeod, 07 Mar 2014, TheTyee.ca
  14. ‘I Thought I Was Doing a Good Job’: Fired Health Ministry Staffer – Andrew MacLeod,    12 Sept 2012, TheTyee.ca
  15. Privacy Commissioner to Health Minister: Whoa! – Andrew MacLeod, 3 May 2012, TheTyee.ca
  16. Taxpayers Dinged for a Thousand $1,000 Phone Calls – Andrew MacLeod, 16 Jan 2014, TheTyee.ca
  17. Emails Shed Light on Origins of Health Ministry Probe, Firings – Andrew MacLeod, 21 Oct  2014, TheTyee.ca
  18. Former Official Fears Blame for Health Ministry Firings – Andrew MacLeod, 20 Nov 2014, TheTyee.ca
  19. Health minister MacDiarmid confirms fifth firing morning after – Andrew MacLeod, 14 Sep 2012, The Hook,
  20. Health ministry fires fifth person in data, contract investigation, Andrew MacLeod, 13 Sep 2012, The Hook
  21. The best place on Earth (for pharmaceutical companies) – Alan Cassels, Mar 2013,  Online
  22. Research Stopped by Ministry Might Have Cut Big Pharma Profits – Andrew MacLeod, 8 Sep 2012, TheTyee.ca
  23. Key Health Ministry Advisor Was Surprised Firings Targeted Just ‘Low Level People’: Emails – Andrew MacLeod, 6 Nov 2014, TheTyee.ca
  24. ‘No Records’ of Requested Health Ministry Review – Andrew MacLeod,16 Feb 2015, TheTyee.ca
  25. What We Know So Far about the Health Ministry Firings – Andrew MacLeod, 19 Dec 2014, TheTyee.ca
  26. Former Senior Gov’t Official Won’t Participate in Health Firings Review – Andrew MacLeod, 25 Nov 2014, TheTyee.ca
  27. Health ministry lacked means to protect personal info – Andrew MacLeod, 26 Jun 2013, The Hook
  28. VIEW: Time to appoint a special prosecutor on healthcare firings – Andrew MacLeod,  Oct 2014, The Hook
  29. Health research scandal still shrouded in secrecy – C. McInnes, 15 Dec 2012, Vancouver Sun (a paper I wouldn’t buy)
  30. Fired BC Health Worker Sues Province – Dirk Meissner, 04 Dec 2012, The Canadian  Press
  31. Police Called, then Stalled on Health Firing Probe – Andrew MacLeod, 19 Feb 2015,  TheTyee.ca
  32. Asian trip’s aims include medical tourism and shared research – Andrew MacLeod, 04 Nov 2011, TheTyee.ca
  33. Lack of drug data is blocking important research – Andrew MacLeod, 12 Sept 2012, The Hook
  34. OSC lays charges in patient records privacy breach at two Toronto hospitals – Diana      Mehta. 02 Jun 2015, Chronicle Journal:  Health
  35. BC Medical R esearchers encouraged to seek US military funding – Andrew MacLeod, 12 Oct 2012, The Hook
  36. At Time of Firings, Health Ministry Discussed Selling Patient Data – Andrew MacLeod, 20 Mar 2015, TheTyee.ca
  37. Bill 35 – 2012 – Pharmaceutical Services Act, passed May 31, 2012
  38. RCMP probe of fired B.C. Health workers never happened – Rob Shaw, 05 Jun 2015,  Vancouver Sun
  39. Health Ministry Firings Police Probe Still Possible – Andrew MacLeod, 04 Jun 2015, TheTyee.ca
  40. Letter Shows Discrepancy in Gov’t Version of Health Firings – Andrew MacLeod, 3 Feb 2015, TheTyee.ca
  41. On Health Ministry Firings, Who Actually Received an Apology? – Andrew MacLeod, 9 Jun 2015, TheTyee.ca
  42. Wrongly Fired Health Workers Sign New Demand for ‘Thorough’ Inquiry – Andrew MacLeod, 24 Jun 2015, TheTyee.ca
  43. Fired drug researcher drops lawsuit against province – Cindy E. Harnett, 5 Jun 2015, Times Colonist
  44. Victoria drug researcher wasn’t silenced, B.C. Government says – Cindy E. Harnett, 29 May 2015, Times Colonist
  45. Fired researcher’s sister seeks answers in report due today, Cindy E. Harnett, 18 Dec 2014, Times Colonist
  46. Fired Researcher’s ‘Last Words’ Deleted from Computer, Sister Says – Andrew MacLeod,  8 Jul 2015, TheTyee.ca
  47. Christy Clark: Government has apologized for misleading public over B.C. Health firings – 05 Jun 2015 , CBC News
  48. Is Health Firings Probe Doomed to Be Too Narrow? – Bob Mackin, 15 Jul 2015, TheTyee.ca
  49. Independent inquiry urged into botched health ministry firings – Rob Show, 2 Jul 2015, Vancouver Sun
  50. Ombudsperson Pleads for Delay to Health Firings Probe – Bob Mackin, 16 Jul 2015, TheTyee.ca
  51. Editorial: Inquiry must be independent – 4 Jul 2015, Times Colonist
  52. Health Ministry Asks Staff Not to Delete Records Related to 2012 Firings – Andrew. MacLeod, 24 Nov 2015, TheTyee.ca
  53. Wrongly Fired Health Workers Reject Ombudsperson Review – Andrew MacLeod, 28 Jul 2015, TheTyee.ca
  54. Many Theories, No Answers from BC Gov’t on Health Ministry Firings – Bill Tieleman, 23 Jun 2015, TheTyee.ca
  55. B.C. Health researcher firing scandal timeline – Jeremy Allingham, 13 Jun 2015, CBC News

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