Nfld. & Labrador

Over a month after the cyberattack on health care in N.L. began, Furey is still mum on details

More than a month after a cyberattack disrupted the Newfoundland and Labrador health-care system, most services are back online, but on Monday, Premier Andrew Furey still refused to comment on the nature of the attack or say who is responsible.

Furey met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday to discuss a number of items

While speaking with reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey refused to confirm the nature of the cyberattack that hit the province's health-care system more than five weeks ago. (CBC)

More than a month after a cyberattack disrupted the Newfoundland and Labrador health-care system, most services are back online. But on Monday, Premier Andrew Furey still refused to comment on the nature of the attack or say who is responsible.

Since the attack started on Oct. 30, officials have been reluctant to reveal details about the disruptions to the health-care system, and took days to confirm that a cyberattack was to blame. Officials have said answers would come eventually, but they didn't want to give the attackers any additional information that could give them an advantage.

Furey, who was in Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, stuck to that same reasoning with reporters.

"We've been very careful in the language that we've selected around the attack and we will continue to be so. I know everyone wants answers immediately, but you can anticipate the consequences of some inappropriate language," he said.

Thousands of Newfoundland and Labrador residents had appointments cancelled as a result of the attack, ranging from blood work to cancer care. Patient and employee information has been stolen from three out of the four regional health authorities.

Although most aspects of the health-care system are back up and running, there are still some gaps. For example, Public Health is unable to provide COVID-19 testing numbers.

On Monday, Furey wouldn't say if the cyberattack is still ongoing or if it has been resolved.

"Are we still under attack right now?" He asked in response to a question. 

"I mean, again, I have to be very careful about the nuance of what we say, but the system is up and running," he said.

Members of the opposition have repeatedly criticized the government for a lack of answers. Furey insists that his government has been transparent.

"We were very public about this from the beginning, did a full mass disclosure that this was an issue, never shied away from it," he said.

CBC News learned during the early days of the attack that it was a ransomware attack, a type of crime in which hackers gain control of a system and hand back the reins only when a ransom has been paid.

Officials have refused to confirm if the attack was ransomware in nature, or if government paid a ransom. On Monday, Furey again refused to discuss the nature of the attack.

"There's still an ongoing RCMP investigation. I'm not going to comment any further at this time." 

A nation-wide problem: Furey

Furey met with Trudeau to discuss several items, including health-care and the Muskrat Falls rate mitigation deal. Furey said the cyberattack was also on the agenda.

"I thanked him for the support that they provided. There has been the [Canadian Centre for Cyber Security] team on the ground helping the province from the beginning," he said.

Furey met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, Dec. 6 to discuss a number of items, including health care and immigration. (CBC)

"This is a wake up call for not just Newfoundland and Labrador, but for all jurisdictions,"

Furey emphasized his positive working relationship with Trudeau.

"The collaborative approach that we have set out to achieve has yielded some good early results," he said.

Regarding the Muskrat Falls rate mitigation deal, Furey didn't commit to a timeline, but said the provincial and federal governments are satisfied the agreement in principle is progressing as it should.

"The commitment will be honoured in full," he said. 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Peter Cowan

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now