Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner finds doctors snooped in Humboldt Broncos patient records


Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner has found eight people inappropriately gained access to electronic health records of 10 Humboldt Broncos team members involved in a bus crash last April.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured in the crash between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi trailer at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.

« Due to the high-profile nature of the crash, eHealth Saskatchewan understood the risk of snooping, » said a report from information and privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski.

The report said the health agency began monitoring the profiles of the patients — which include lab results, medication information and chronic diseases — three days after the crash.

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen in April. A privacy report says medical records of crash victims were inappropriately accessed by people in the health care system. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

« Between April 9, 2018, and May 15, 2018, eHealth detected eight users of the viewer, mostly physicians, accessed without apparent authority the profiles of 10 patients. »

The report shows eHealth reported the breaches to the privacy commissioner on July 5.

Privacy commissioner ‘disappointed’

Kruzeniski said he’s disappointed that the seven doctors and an office manager inappropriately looked at the records.

« This has been a major tragedy in our province and I’m disappointed that people got tempted, » he said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday. « Now that it’s happened, it’s my job to work with others through education and legislative change [to] make the system work. »

His report, which has been posted online, detailed the privacy breaches.

In one case, an employee of a medical clinic examined the health information of three people involved in the collision.

The office manager admitted she consulted the records because « her family members had heard one of the individuals had died and she wanted to verify the information; she thought another individual was a patient … [and] she wanted to verify a detail that was reported by the media about one of the individuals. »

The report said the employee’s access to eHealth was suspended and she was given further training, but she has since resigned from her job.

Another case involved a doctor at a Humboldt clinic who viewed the records of two people, including one who was a patient prior to the crash.

« Dr. D wanted to know what injuries the individual sustained, if the individual received care or if it was an instant fatality, » said the report. « For the other individual, it explained Dr. D was concerned. »

3 emergency care doctors among those reviewing patient records

Other cases included three doctors who provided emergency care at the Nipawin Hospital and who reviewed patient records of those they treated.

« They believed they were in the individuals’ ‘circle of care, »‘ said the report.

The privacy commissioner said the province’s Health Information Protection Act does not address circles of care so the doctors were no longer authorized to access the records.

Another case saw a medical resident view the information of three patients because she wanted to get closure on the cases, which is not an acceptable reason.

During the monitoring period, two other medical residents were found to have looked at the records of one of the people involved in the crash when the residents were reviewing the records of dozens of patients with a particular illness.

Monthly privacy audits recommended

In his report, Kruzeniski has made a number of recommendations to eHealth — including that it conduct regular monthly audits for the next three years of the physicians who inappropriately gained accessed to information.

Kruzeniski also recommended that the organization comply with a need-to-know principle rather than a circle-of-care concept and that it develop a solution to force users of the system to regularly review their training.


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Several witnesses in Norman trial still haven’t searched personal records for evidence, court told


Several major government figures at the centre of the criminal case against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman have not searched their personal email and phones for correspondence relevant to the case, despite the instructions of court-ordered subpoenas.

Zita Astravas, who serves as the chief of staff to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, was called to testify Thursday at a pretrial hearing in the breach-of-trust case against Norman.

She said the advice she received from lawyers at National Defence was that she was required only to surrender communications from her work-provided BlackBerry phone.

Norman’s defence team, led by Toronto lawyer Marie Henein, has been fighting in court for the disclosure of thousands of federal government documents — and have accused the federal government of conducting a selective and haphazard search for those documents.

In testimony Wednesday, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance acknowledged that he had not searched his personal email or his iPhone for anything that might relate to the case. Gen. Vance has insisted he doesn’t conduct any work-related business on his non-government devices.

Earlier this week, lawyers for federal cabinet minister Scott Brison delivered to court personal emails relevant to the case, separate from his government accounts.

Norman, the former commander of the navy, has been charged with one count of breach of trust and is accused of leaking cabinet secrets related to a $668 million contract to lease a supply ship for the navy. He was suspended as the military’s second-in-command in January, 2017.

Astravas was director of issues management in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office between November 2015 and August 2017 — the time period when the criminal investigation involving Norman first became public. She would have been the public servant tasked with briefing the prime minister on important issues and daily crises.

Astravas testified she didn’t know if her former email account had been searched in response to a subpoena issued by Norman’s lawyers.

Robert MacKinnon, the federal lawyer responsible for the record search, told the court the instruction given to all departments was that all devices must be searched. He said that instruction will be repeated.

​The pre-trial hearing has focused largely on the collection and production of communications relevant to the case. The actual trial is scheduled to begin in August, just months before the federal election.

Henein asked Astravas if she is aware of any communications within government about the timing of the case.

« Do you recall having any communications about delaying this trial or about the timing of this trial? » she asked.

« I don’t remember, » Astravas replied.

‘Fishing expedition’

On Tuesday, the defence team produced a list of words used in documentation to refer to Norman that it had obtained through Access to Information. They include Kracken, MN3, C34 and The Boss.

Vance said the military routinely uses jargon, acronyms and pseudonyms and he didn’t see anything on the list that he thought would qualify as a ‘codename’.

The list released to the defence team through the access request did not include any terms used in Sajjan’s office, which claimed a ministerial exemption from the request.

Astravas said after she received a subpoena to appear in court late Wednesday, she asked her staff to make « best efforts » to check if other pseudonyms for Norman had been used. She said they did not come up with additional terms.

Henein asked if Astravas knew of the terms « the certain naval officer, » « a certain naval fellow » or a « a naval colleague » being used, but Astravas said she could not recall.

Norman’s defence team has been engaged in legal wrangling with government lawyers over the the release of documents deemed relevant to the case.

Henein described the situation as « quite extraordinary, » with the government asserting cabinet confidence over certain documents and the defence securing subpoenas to obtain those documents.

Crown lawyer Barbara Mercier suggested the defence is trying to prolong the process to « kingdom come. »

« I have a very strong feeling that this has been a very large fishing expedition, » she said.


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NDP lags behind in fundraising as Liberals, Tories, Greens break party records – National


OTTAWA – Federal Conservative, Liberal and Green parties all boasted record fundraising hauls as they headed into an election year, but the New Democrats continued to struggle to raise money.

According to financial returns filed with Elections Canada, the Conservatives raked in $7.4 million in the last three months of 2018 – the best fourth quarter result the party has ever recorded. That puts their total for last year at $24.3 million, the party’s best ever haul in a non-election year.

READ MORE: Scheer ‘cash-for-access’ fundraiser comes under Liberal scrutiny

The governing Liberals were close behind, pulling in $6.4 million in the last three months of 2018 – their best fourth quarter result in a non-election year. Overall last year, the party pulled in $16.6 million.

Even the Greens were able to make their own fundraising history. They brought in almost $1.5 million in the last three months of the year for a total annual take of $3.1 million – representing the party’s best fourth quarter ever and best overall non-election year haul.

WATCH: Alberta UCP raised nearly twice as much money as NDP

By contrast, the NDP pulled in $1.97 million in the last three months of 2018, its lowest fourth quarter result in eight years. The party took in just under $5.2 million for the entire year, only slightly better than the dismal $4.9 million the NDP raised in 2017, which represented its worst yearly result since 2011.

The results are a far cry from 2015, an election year in which the NDP was thought to be a real contender for power. The party raked in $18.6 million that year.


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Canada’s top soldier spoke with Trudeau after learning of Norman case — but no records exist – National


Hours after learning from RCMP that his second-in-command was under investigation for allegedly leaking cabinet secrets, Canada’s top soldier had a phone call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after briefing top-level political staff about the case.

But there appear to be no records of what exactly the two discussed in the early hours of a case that has rocked the Canadian Forces and prompted accusations of political interference and scapegoating.

READ MORE: Code Name ‘Kraken’ — How Mark Norman’s lawyers allege military used pseudonyms to hide records

In testimony before an Ottawa court on Wednesday, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance explained how he first learned the RCMP was investigating his vice chief of defence staff, Vice-Adm. Mark Norman, in a meeting on Jan. 9, 2017.

In that meeting were several deputy ministers, RCMP officials, Vance and the national security adviser to Trudeau.

WATCH BELOW: Conservatives question Liberals over emails in Norman case

Afterwards, both Vance and the national security adviser met for roughly five minutes with Gerry Butts and Katie Telford to brief them on the news that the RCMP was investigating Norman in relation to a report leaked to media in November 2015 that the newly-elected Liberals had considered freezing a $700-million deal to buy the navy a new supply ship.

Both of its remaining vessels had rusted out or caught fire in the years previous.

Vance said he asked for Butts or Telford, who are Trudeau’s principal secretary and chief of staff, respectively, to inform him of what was going on.

Later that day, he received a phone call from Trudeau about the matter.

READ MORE: Twin investigations launched into whether military blocked access to information in Mark Norman case

But Vance told the court he took no notes and is not aware of there being any records showing what was discussed during that call, nor in any of the other meetings with either Butts and Telford or with RCMP officials that day.

Norman was abruptly suspended from his duties as the country’s second most senior soldier on Jan. 16, 2017, with no public explanation given.

Vance had previously declined to tell reporters which officials he informed of the investigation into Norman.

Yet the question of how much Trudeau knew about the case has dogged him for close to two years now, as have accusations of political interference.

WATCH BELOW: Opposition asks how Trudeau knew about charges against Vice-Adm. Norman

Trudeau made public remarks in 2017 and in February 2018, prior to Norman being charged with one count of breach of trust for the alleged leak, that he expected the matter would “inevitably” lead to “court processes.”

He has since been asked repeatedly in question period and by media as to how he came to that determination, given Norman was not charged until March 2018.

Trudeau has refused to comment on the case since those initial remarks.

Vance told the court he was advised that Norman would be charged prior it actually being laid.

He did not tell the court who informed him of that, saying instead, “I can’t recall.”

When asked whether he shared that information with anyone, Vance said he told either Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or told the deputy minister of the Department of National Defence with the instruction to tell the minister.

It is not clear when he advised those individuals of the pending charge or whether they told anyone else.

The revelation that Trudeau and Vance spoke directly about the case, and that Vance informed or intended to inform a senior member of Trudeau’s cabinet about pending charges, raises new questions about accusations made repeatedly by Norman’s defence team. Norman’s defence counsel says he is being scapegoated by the Liberals because the leaked report of the plans to freeze the supply ship deal effectively forced the government to honour it.

Ditching the deal with Davie Shipyards,, which was inked under the former Conservative government, would have hit taxpayers with a penalty fee of roughly $89 million.

Scott Brison, who until earlier this month served as President of the Treasury Board, told RCMP when they launched their investigation that the leak had damaged his ability to do his due diligence in re-evaluating the deal after the Liberals were elected.

However, Brison was among several cabinet ministers pressed by Irving and Seaspan, two rival shipyards to Davie, to reconsider proposals to do that same work at their own shipyards in the weeks leading up to the leak.

Brison has close ties to the Irving family. His emails and any potential communication with the firm related to the supply ship deal have been repeatedly sought by Norman’s defence team in the pre-trial hearings in his case so far.

On Tuesday, Brison’s lawyers filed an application seeking standing in the case.

In their filing, his legal team said it wanted to be able to protect his “privacy” and “interests” as the case unfolds.

Testimony is set to continue Wednesday afternoon.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou has an extra passport that wasn’t listed in court records — and it’s only available to China’s elite


VANCOUVER—The U.S. government’s hunch that Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou had passports beyond the seven it listed to oppose her release on bail appears to be true.

What it actually means is unclear, as no one would say whether she handed over the special Chinese passport over, let alone whether it could be used to leave the country.

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.
Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou talks to a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018.  (DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press)

The Hong Kong Companies Registry has confirmed to StarMetro that Meng has a special public affairs passport issued by the Chinese government. It was not included in a December court submission by U.S. federal attorney Richard Donoghue, who warned that it was “entirely possible” she had more than the seven passports she had previously used to travel to the U.S.

When asked if the passport was still valid, Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said companies are required by law to keep an index with identity information of its directors and that the information must be up to date.

“There are statutory requirements that if there is any change in the particulars mentioned, the company must, within 15 days of the change, deliver to the Registrar for registration a notice in the specified form to report such change,” the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said in an email.

It’s unclear if Meng surrendered the public affairs passport — issued only to China’s elite business and government officials — as part of her bail conditions, because documents released to StarMetro have been heavily redacted. Government and court officials on both sides of the border have either not responded to or declined multiple requests for interviews related to Meng’s travel documents.

Read more:

U.S. Department of Justice says it will proceed with request to extradite Meng Wanzhou

China tells U.S. to back off Meng extradition demand and warns of ‘further response’

Former ambassadors and academics urge China’s president to release Canadian men

The Canadian Department of Justice said any passports held by Meng must be handed over to the RCMP, but declined to comment on whether this particular passport was among those surrendered. The RCMP also declined to comment, citing the case as an ongoing investigation.

“The bail order issued by the BC Supreme Court specifies that Ms. Meng must surrender any and all passports and travel documents to the RCMP. For privacy reasons, we cannot specify the numbers of the passports that were surrendered,” said Ian McLeod, a spokesman with the Canadian Department of Justice.

The public affairs passport has the letter P before its numbers — setting it apart from all passport numbers that have been linked to Meng and made public.

As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.
As part of her bail conditions, Meng Wanzhou is living in this Vancouver house and must be monitred 24/7 by an ankle bracelet and a private security detail.  (Jesse Winter/StarMetro Vancouver)

Former Canadian ambassador to China Guy Saint-Jacques said holding one of these passports is a sign of prestige in the country.

Among other things, “it means you can use special lanes at the airport,” Saint-Jacques said.

“When we received requests of Chinese delegations coming to Canada, I would ask how come they have such a passport and not a regular passport? I think it’s part of these shenanigans and the way the China government works and the connections one has,” he added.

Meng’s numerous passports played a key role in the lengthy bail hearing that followed her Dec. 1 arrest at the Vancouver airport.

Both the Attorney General of Canada and the U.S. government, in opposing her release while awaiting extradition, cited the risk she could use her wealth, resources and multiple passports to flee the country. Crown prosecutor John Gibb-Carsley had described her flight risk as “unmanageable.”

Judge William Ehrcke granted Meng’s bail release with multiple conditions, including that she surrender all of her passports.

He concluded, after verbal arguments in the courtroom, that only two of Meng’s passports were valid for travel at that time.

With files from Joanna Chiu

Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours


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Vice-Admiral Norman’s pre-trial hearing hears of possible efforts to withhold records


A pre-trial hearing for a top Canadian Navy officer accused of leaking government secrets heard dramatic claims today about possible manipulation of the access-to-information system within the Department of National Defence.

The legal team representing Vice-Admiral Mark Norman today called two surprise witnesses. The first, a military member whose name is protected by a publication ban — due to fears that the testimony could lead to reprisals in the workplace — told court about an alleged scheme within National Defence to avoid using Norman’s name in internal correspondence.

The witness told court about work on one specific request for documents related to Norman submitted to the department in 2017. When it turned up no records, the witness told court, a superior smiled and remarked, « Don’t worry, this isn’t our first rodeo. We made sure to never use his name. »

Norman’s lawyer, Marie Henein, suggested DND officials might have been trying to bury information about her client’s case. Justice Heather Perkins McVey appeared to sympathize, calling the testimony « very disturbing. »

Along with raising concerns about the conduct of DND, Norman’s legal team also today questioned whether the government as a whole was being entirely forthcoming in providing answers and information about Norman’s case.

The second witness called by Norman’s defence team was Melissa Burke, a former policy analyst in the Privy Council Office, the department that works with and supports the prime minister and cabinet.

Burke was involved in the navy’s plan to lease an interim supply ship. Norman, facing a single count of breach of trust, is accused of leaking cabinet secrets regarding that $668 million lease contract to executives at the Davie shipyard in Levis, Que.

Burke told court today she was interviewed by the RCMP in 2016 about meetings she attended where the supply ship project was discussed. But she went on to testify that when lawyers involved in Norman’s case asked to speak with her again this year, federal officials never made clear to her what she could discuss without violating rules governing cabinet secrecy.

Henein again accused the government today of trying to prevent — or least delay — the production of thousands of government documents that she says are necessary to prove Norman’s innocence.

Most of the documents relate to the ship contract, though Henein is also seeking records from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office and the Privy Council Office about the case itself.

Norman’s hearing was scheduled to wrap up today, but his legal team successfully argued proceedings should be extended into the new year.

Henein told court she « is trying to unravel what is going on » and will request subpoenas for three more witnesses, including Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance.

The court date for that extended hearing has been set for late January. Norman is scheduled to go to trial in August, 2019.


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Law permitting destruction of LGBT criminal records has seen low uptake so far


Despite efforts to promote the program, only a handful of people have applied to have criminal records for homosexual acts expunged after Parliament passed legislation to formally erase those unjust convictions four months ago.

As of Oct 1, the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) had received just seven applications for an expungement order since the program was launched on June 21, 2018. So far, only two expungements have been ordered; the other applications are still under review.

« While initial uptake on the program has been light, due to the historical nature of many of the convictions likely eligible for expungement, PBC anticipated that it could take some time for potential applicants to gather the documentation needed in order to apply, » said PBC spokesperson Iulia Pescarus Popa.

There are an estimated 9,000 historical records of convictions for gross indecency, buggery and anal intercourse in RCMP databases.

The Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act, brought in as part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s apology to LGBT Canadians for past acts of discrimination by the authorities, allows people who were criminalized for same-sex activity between consenting adults to apply for the « the destruction or permanent removal » of those records, according to a government media release.

Many of those people are now elderly or have died with their records intact. The law allows their spouses, parents, siblings, children or legal representatives to apply for record expungement on their behalf.

Gary Kinsman, a sociology professor at Laurentian University who lobbied for the legislation and a formal government apology to LGBT Canadians, blamed the low uptake on a lack of promotion and an onerous application process.

He said he has heard from people who are having « major difficulties » accessing the police or court records they need in order to file the application. Many of those records are decades old.

‘Arduous task’

« You already have people who may not even know about this, but if they do learn about it, if it actually becomes an arduous task to try to collect the documentation they need, that may not be something they are willing to pursue, » he said.

« It also opens up for many people quite traumatic events in their lives in terms of these convictions, which may have outed them, might have severely hurt their employment. »

The PBC has launched a new web page devoted to expungement, with an application guide, a form and other information to assist applicants, including a 1-800 line and a dedicated email address.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wipes his eye while he is applauded as he delivers a historic apology to LGBT people in Canada in the House of Commons on Nov.28, 2017. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

It also has worked with other government departments to distribute information to the public, stakeholders and seniors’ advocacy groups, prisoners’ rights organizations, police services, courts and law societies to raise program awareness. The PBC is also preparing a « how to » video that will be posted on its website and YouTube.

Kinsman said the government should increase awareness with ads in mainstream media and specialized LGBT publications, and assign employees to help individuals navigate the application process and obtain the necessary documentation.

« If there’s not specific people assigned to help these individuals, they’re basically going to be lost. They’re lost in a bureaucratic world, » he said.

Expungement vs. pardon

Expungement is different from a pardon or record suspension — because it leads to the individual being deemed to have never been convicted of the offence in the first place.

All judicial records are destroyed through an expungement order, while a record suspension keeps those records separate and apart without permanently removing them.

Ron Rosenes was charged, found guilty and fined for being found in a bawdy house in 1981. He does not have a criminal record but wants all of the police and court records related to his trial expunged. His request for trial records has so far proven unsuccessful, and he has heard no response from the parole board after submitting an application in July.

Ron Rosenes says the list of offences eligible for expungement should be expanded to include ‘bawdy house’ offences and others. (Ron Rosenes)

Rosenes said the number of offences eligible for expungement is too limited, and that it should be expanded to include bawdy house and other offences.

« If you’re going to have a law that expunges the records of people except those who were arrested using a given provision, then that’s not fair, » said Rosenes, who received the Order of Canada for his advocacy work on HIV.

Testifying at a Senate committee in April, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale defended the decision to limit the number of offences at first. He said the government’s initial focus is on the « defunct » offences, to avoid any delay that could be caused by including other offences that could prove more challenging to deal with.

« We have quite deliberately drafted the bill in such a way as to leave the door open for other offences, after due consideration, to be added in the future, » Goodale said at the time.

His office referred queries to the office of Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould. Her spokeswoman could not provide any information on next steps, saying only that there is no update at this time.


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Canada records international trade surplus, driven by decline in imports


Canada recorded its first merchandise trade surplus with the world in more than 18 months in August, as unusually timed shutdowns at auto plants helped cut imports at a greater rate than exports, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

The surplus of $526 million was the first since December 2016 and follows a revised deficit of $189 million in July.

Auto plants in Canada, which usually cut production in July for retooling, had more temporary shutdowns than usual in August, Statistics Canada said.

Exports in August fell by 1.1 per cent, the biggest decline since January, partly due to lower shipments of motor vehicles, and imports dropped by 2.5 per cent for the same reason.

Following a 7.9 per cent increase from May to July, exports of motor vehicles and parts fell 6.2 per cent in August to $7.4 billion. Exports of passenger cars and light trucks, down by 8.9 per cent, were mainly responsible for the decline. As with imports of engines and parts, this decrease coincided with the atypical shutdowns in the automotive industry.

Year over year, exports of passenger cars and light trucks were down 5.7 per cent.

TD Economics says the declines in imports were particularly centred in non-U.S. countries, but U.S. import tariff impacts on Canadian exports continued to show.

On a customs seasonally adjusted basis, steel exports moved up 6.3 per cent, but aluminum exports fell 13.2 per cent on the month.

Retaliatory Canadian tariffs on U.S. imports, now in their second month, continued to show some impact, with steel imports declining 12.8 per cent, but aluminum imports rising 2.6 per cent. Imports of other miscellaneous products subject to 10 per cent tariffs were almost unchanged.

Exports to the U.S. fell by 1.2 per cent while imports declined by 1.3 per cent, mostly because of lower imports of aircraft, which slowed for a third consecutive month. As a result, the trade surplus with the U.S. — which took 74.6 per cent of Canada’s goods exports in August — remained essentially unchanged at $5.35 billion.

With files from Reuters


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