Laboratory services next priority as N.L. rebuilds from cyberattack, says Haggie

·3 min read
Health Minister John Haggie says getting laboratory services back online is the next priority in rebuilding health-care services affected by the cyberattack. (Mark Quinn/CBC - image credit)
Health Minister John Haggie says getting laboratory services back online is the next priority in rebuilding health-care services affected by the cyberattack. (Mark Quinn/CBC - image credit)
Mark Quinn/CBC
Mark Quinn/CBC

Newfoundland and Labrador's health minister says as the province continues to rebuild its health-care systems after a cyberattack, laboratory services are the next area of focus.

John Haggie told the CBC's St. John's Morning Show that resuming radiation treatment for cancer patients over the weekend was a big step.

"The next area that's really of concern is around the laboratory. We have talked about cardiology.… That's kind of being worked on too," Haggie said Monday. "But to support all these services and get them back to the previous volume, the lab services are the next crucial core thing that we need to integrate."

While appointment scheduling and rebooking services are still affected by the IT outage, Haggie said he's optimistic an update will come later this week.

He compared getting systems up and running to building a house; right now they're laying the foundation "to essentially rebuild and renovate what we've got," he said.

"Every module that comes back online is screened for software before it's plugged in, monitored in a test environment and then put back online. So it's a slow process … but we're trying to get it right each time," he said.

LISTEN | Health Minister John Haggie speaks with the CBC's Ramraajh Sharvendiran:

"We're making a lot of progress behind the scenes, but it's difficult for people to appreciate it yet because we're not at a stage where we can switch on the functionality that they need, which is around … booking of appointments and rescheduling."

Containment of any data breaches key: privacy commissioner

While Haggie said he can't say if personal health information was compromised in the attack, it's something the provincial information and privacy commissioner says he'll be keeping an eye on.

Michael Harvey said he has been in contact with government over the past week.

"We'll also wait to see if a complaint comes in. If a complaint comes in, then we'll decide whether or not to launch an investigation," Harvey said Monday.

Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada
Patrick Butler/Radio-Canada

He said a report would have to be filed by a custodian in the matter, such as a regional health authority or the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information. Any work done by his office wouldn't present any damages or penalties, he said, and would be aimed at providing recommendations about what could be done better to prevent future breaches.

"Containment is the first step, so what is the government doing to contain the breach?" he said. "We don't want to get involved in this operational matter, so I'm assured that there's an active co-operation with the police. Law enforcement is going on, and that a big part of that is what we might call containment."

Harvey said the second step would be notification of anyone who may have affected by the breach. That could take different forms, he said, as the full nature of the breach is yet to be determined.

Harvey said his office plans to stay out of the government's operational response for now but says they could have a role in a post mortem scenario.

"We're satisfied that they are responding appropriately.… I think that things are going as best as they can under very difficult circumstances."

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