I made this video because I didn't know what else to do. When we got the News I was very upset and had hard time to make this video and break my years of silence over this issue of medical marijuana. The video say all for me Thank you
Medical marijuana privacy breach due to Health Canada 'incompetence', critics say
OTTAWA -- A gaffe by Health Canada has outed thousands of medical marijuana users.
OTTAWA — Liberal health critic Hedy Fry is urging the federal privacy commissioner to find out why Health Canada outed 40,000 medical marijuana users, leaving them vulnerable to home invasion and robbery.
In a letter Friday to commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, Fry suggests that cost-cutting might be one reason why Health Canada sent the form letters to its registered users by regular mail instead using the usual method of private special delivery mail.
The letters sent out this week, and received by many on Thursday, clearly stated on the envelope that they were from the department's Marihuana Medical Access Program.
Inside was a form letter about changes to the program that will take production from private growers and put it into the hands of commercial operations — a deeply unpopular move among registered users who say the efficacy of the drug will be diluted by commercial growing methods
As of late Friday, 40 people affected by the breach had complained to the privacy commission.
In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Fry blasted the government for "incompetence" in its handling of personal information that under the law it is bound to keep secret.
"This is the third time there has been a breach of privacy by this government," she said. "They inadvertently — so they say — made public thousands of social security numbers of students who had student loans and they made medical information of veterans public — again inadvertently. And now, they are saying again that this was an administrative error."
But unlike the leaking of SIN numbers and veterans' health records, making it known who have marijuana stashes in their homes could lead to violence.
"Privacy alone is a huge breach," she said, "but now the risks to some of these people is huge. It's really extraordinary and this government has to answer why, on three separate occasions in the last two years, they have screwed up. This government knows how to keep who said what to whom in the Prime Minister's Office secret, but they aren't competent enough to keep important information about Canadians that under the Privacy Act they have to keep secret."
Fry, a medical doctor, said she heard from a distressed medical marijuana user in her Vancouver riding whose son had seen the letter and reacted badly at discovering that his father was a marijuana user.
"He puts it in food, so nobody knew," said Fry. "They are a family who have made an effort to teach their children about the dangers of drug and excessive alcohol use. The son now won't speak to him. He sees him as a hypocrite and a liar."
"Private medical information is so sacrosanct," she added. "People often keep it from their own families."
Shortly after the letters became public Thursday, Health Canada deputy minister George Da Post issued a statement apologizing to the 40,000 recipients.
"Health Canada is taking steps to ensure this does not happen again," he said.
In a statement to the Citizen, Health Canada denied that any changes had been made to its mailing procedures.
"Health Canada has, and continues to send packages containing Authorizations to Possess, Personal-Use Production Licences, and Designated-Person Production Licences, as well as packages containing dried marihuana and/or marihuana seeds, via registered mail. Regular correspondence, such as responses to letters from clients and stakeholders of the Marihuana Medical Access Program, has been and continues to be sent via regular post."
Privacy commission spokesperson Heather Ormerod said Friday that although Health Canada has admitted that the breach occurred, the commission wants to know how it happened.
"We are looking at systemic issues around the breach, and we are committed to completing a thorough investigation as quickly as possible," she said.