Ottawa Hospital apologizes for privacy breach on unvaccinated staff

Ottawa Hospital sent an email offering a vaccine education session to unvaccinated staff, which lead to a major violation of privacy.
The email contained each recipient’s name visible to others.

Ottawa Hospital stated the emails were immediately retracted and deleted in a statement emailed to CBC.
The Ottawa Hospital’s Information and Privacy Office investigated the incident and reported to the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the hospital said.

The hospital says it expects all of its employees to be vaccinated, and that educating unvaccinated employees is part of the process.

The privacy violation, according to Lou Burri, president of CUPE 4000, is a roadblock to that aim.

“They didn’t feel confident that the information that they were providing was going to be kept confidential. And this happens, and it just reaffirmed what they were thinking,” he said.

“Now it’s going to be pretty hard to try to convince people that it was just a one-time mishap and it won’t happen again.”

Burri, whose union represents 3,800 hospital clerical, trades, and support employees, was shocked to learn of the breach because the union and hospital had just addressed privacy rules the week before.

He claims that around 400 of the hospital’s 11,600 employees are still unvaccinated.

Burri would have liked a more customised approach to the education process rather than a mass email, and the union urges all members to be vaccinated but does not inform them that it is required.

“People should choose whether or not they want to be vaccinated. But when you make a choice, there are repercussions and we have to deal with those down the road,” he said.

The vaccination policy at the Ottawa Hospital mandated that all employees receive their first shot by Sept. 7 and their second dose by Oct. 15.

Privacy protocols were reviewed prior to the email being sent out, Lou Burri, president of CUPE Local 4000, says he’s astonished the breach occurred.

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