Nfld. & Labrador

With cyberattack details still scarce, opposition leaders call for accountability

Almost six weeks after a cyberattack disrupted the Newfoundland and Labrador health-care system in late October, details are still scarce and officials aren’t offering new information. 

Government officials have insisted they are being as transparent as possible

On Tuesday, NDP Leader Jim Dinn and PC Leader David Brazil called on the government to release more information about the cyberattack that has disrupted the province's health-care system since late October. (Peter Cowan/CBC)

Almost six weeks after a cyberattack disrupted the Newfoundland and Labrador health-care system in late October, details are still scarce and officials aren't offering new information. 

On Tuesday, the province's opposition leaders said they want more answers.

"There's a lot of unknowns here," said PC Leader David Brazil. "There's a lot of information that they're not sharing that they could be sharing to reassure people that we're going to get back to normality and that the information that's there can't be hacked in the future."

The cyberattack, which was discovered Oct. 30, resulted in the cancellation of thousands of medical appointments and procedures at all four of the province's regional health authorities. The personal information of patients and employees dating back years was also compromised.

Most services have since been restored, though there are still some gaps in digital systems.

Speaking with reporters in Ottawa on Monday, Premier Andrew Furey remained tight-lipped on details about the nature of the attack and wouldn't say if it has been resolved.

"This is a security issue that we can't really comment on at this time and there is still an ongoing RCMP investigation into the issue," he said.

Justice Minister John Hogan and Health Minister John Haggie have said they aren't revealing certain details because they don't want to compromise the RCMP investigation into the attack. 

Brazil said he understands the sensitivity of the police investigation but believes the government is making excuses.

"There's information that they should and could be sharing here. They're hiding behind a cloak of saying, 'No, there's an investigation,'" he said.

Brazil has previously accused the government of ignoring warnings about security vulnerabilities in its health-care system, and on Tuesday said the government is deflecting.

"They still have not outlined a particular plan that would work to ensure that people feel safe, that their information is secure and that we're going to get back to some normality and health care," he said.

Information should be public: Dinn

Furey, who met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday and Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday, said he's been in discussions with Trudeau and the other premiers about the threat of cyberattacks.

"This is not a Newfoundland and Labrador problem. This is a problem that touches all jurisdictions and will touch all jurisdictions at some point in the not too distant future," he said.

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

On Tuesday, provincial NDP Leader Jim Dinn called on the premier to share more information with the public.

"If he's sharing information with the premiers and the prime minister that he can't share with us, that's unacceptable," he said.

So far, officials have not committed to a public inquiry into the attack, though they haven't ruled one out. Members of the opposition have asked the government to commit to an inquiry, and Dinn repeated that call Tuesday.

"Who was accountable? What led up to this?… People are going to have to answer for that."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Peter Cowan


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