Nfld. & Labrador

Federal health critic calls out Ottawa for lack of help during N.L. cyberattack

Don Davies, a British Columbia member of Parliament and the New Democratic Party's health critic, called the federal response to the cyberattack "totally deficient," saying more should be done to assure Canadians that medical systems are safe.

Trudeau has met with ministers about the attack: O'Regan

Don Davies, the federal health critic for the NDP, says the federal government should be more transparent with details of the cyberattack affecting Newfoundland and Labrador health care. (Ian Christie/CBC)

A federal health critic is calling for more transparency and support from Ottawa surrounding the cyberattack that has affected Newfoundland and Labrador's health-care system for more than three weeks.

Don Davies, a British Columbia member of Parliament and the New Democratic Party's health critic, called the federal response to the cyberattack "totally deficient" and said more should be done to assure Canadians that medical systems are safe.

"We've had radio silence from the Trudeau government and from Liberal MPs, and that's extremely concerning given that this is a serious breach of Canadians' personal data," Davies told CBC News on Friday.

"We have to retain public confidence that their personal data is safe. Particularly now, when so much of our information is being held in electronic and digital form."

Throughout the past three weeks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey and other provincial officials have been tight-lipped about the cyberattack, with Furey saying officials have been advised to keep most information about the attack private and reveal details only when necessary due to the case being an open investigation.

While nearly all systems have been restored since being taken down at the end of October, details about the motives of attackers or whether it was a ransomware attack are still unknown.

St. John's-Mount Pearl MP Seamus O'Regan said people shouldn't read too much into the lack of detail provided.

Newfoundland and Labrador MP Seamus O'Regan says the cyberattack is being discussed at the highest levels in government. (CBC)

"There just hasn't been much public talk of it because, frankly, that's what we've been told to do. We've been told to support the province in every way that we can, I can tell you this is something that is discussed at the highest level," O'Regan said in St. John's on Friday.

"I'm not really interested in making a statement about the federal government. I am interested in making sure that we look after the patients and the people and the privacy of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians."

O'Regan said he has met multiple times with Trudeau and other federal ministers about the attack.

Davies said there is some merit to not interfering in an investigation but he doesn't believe it should be a blanket excuse to hide details. He said more information should be disclosed about how the attack happened and what can be done to prevent future attacks across the country.

"[Canadians] need to understand what happened, and they need to be reassured that concrete steps are being taken not only to get to the bottom of what happened here and to fix the problem, but to make sure that our information is safeguarded," he said.

"I think to maintain that confidence, we need as much proactive disclosure and explanation as possible. I think there's a way to do that while also preserving the considerations that have been raised."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Patrick Butler

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