A security lapse involving Newfoundland and Labrador's workers' compensation agency files is unacceptable, an advocate says.

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Patricia Dodd said workers' compensation files often contain personal details. ((CBC))

The provincial government disclosed late Friday that an external consultant working with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission had been using an internet file-sharing program that caused the breach.

The government said it's not known how much — or even if any — personal information may have been compromised in the breach, which was detected by a New York security firm.

Patricia Dodd, president of the Injured Workers' Association, said workers' files usually include medical information or financial records.

"Everything that you could imagine is investigated and looked into, and would show up in an injured worker's file. A person's life — everything from emotional, psychological, physical [matters] — that's all there," she said.
 
Dodd said her organization is also concerned about the spectre of identity theft.

"All that information is in a worker's file and identities can be stolen," Dodd said Sunday.

"There's no way that any worker should have to fear that their personal information is shared or in the hands with someone else. There should have been measures so that it would never happen."

The government does not expect to have a full report on the breach until the end of the week, but is hoping for a briefing early this week.

The consultant had also had Justice Department files involving occupational health and safety, Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy said Friday.

The breach was found by the same company that detected a similar incident in late November, when a consultant working for the public health laboratory brought home a government-owned computer, and inadvertently exposed the data when a file-sharing program was installed.

New Democratic Party Leader Lorraine Michael said she is leery of government assurances.

"I want to hear something more concrete from the minister," she said.

"Telling me that he's assuring me is not enough, just as it's not enough for the people. He said that the first time, and now he's saying it again."