Fine in privacy breach 'sends the right message': Ed Ring

Newfoundland and Labrador's privacy commissioner said a judge did the right thing by fining a former employee of Western Health who was found to be at the centre of a privacy breach.
Ed Ring is the privacy commissioner of Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's privacy commissioner said a judge did the right thing by fining a former employee of Western Health who was found to be at the centre of a privacy breach.

Ed Ring said fining Donna Colbourne $5,000 sends a strong message.

"I believe justice was done," said Ring.

"I believe the sentence was proportional to the offence in that it sends the right message," he said.

Colbourne was handed the fine Thursday in provincial court after she was found guilty of breaching the privacy of more than 1,000 patient files while she was an accounting clerk at Western Health until 2012.

An investigation showed Colbourne had accessed the names and billing addresses of those affected, but not the medical charts or health records.

It was also found that she did not share the information with anyone, and because of that Judge Kymil Howe gave the fine of $5,000.

Ring said the judgment sends the right message to other workers in the health-care system. 

"Do not violate people's rights by accessing [their] personal information," said Ring.

Colbourne became the first person in Newfoundland and Labrador to ever be charged under the Personal Health Information Act.

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