Veterans Affairs Canada could be staring down the wrong end of a class action lawsuit after a privacy breach involving more than 3,000 Canadian veterans.
In November, 2013, more than 41,000 Canadians received letters from Health Canada, with “Marihuana Medical Access Program” printed on the outside of envelopes. A class action was started, and is still before the court, for Health Canada’s breach of privacy, revealing many Canadians as medical marijuana users.
In January, 2017, a similar situation arose when Canadian veterans across Canada received letters from Medavie Blue Cross, the insurer for Veterans Affairs Canada (“VAC”) with “RE: Cannabis for Medical Purposes” visible through the envelopes’ windows. The letter, signed by VAC, was meant to inform patients about reimbursement changes under the federal marijuana program.
Photos of the letter were shared on Facebook by veterans and their caregivers. Over 3,000 veterans are part of the program.
VAC sent a statement to CBC news that the department would review the situation with Medavie-Blue Cross:
“Veterans Affairs Canada takes the privacy of veterans very seriously and the Department is reviewing this situation with Medavie-Blue Cross to ensure that the personal information of veterans is safeguarded at all times”
Medavie-Blue Cross also responded that it was working to address safety concerns as a result of the breach.
One veteran spoke with a VAC supervisor who confirmed that the letter ought to have been sent in a windowless envelope. The failure to do so, Veterans feel, was a grave violation of confidentiality and confidence.
In addition to privacy concerns, veterans reportedly fear for their safety and security, as they believe that thieves looking for drugs may break into their homes and/or cars.
Some veterans have expressed that they will be discussing options with their legal representatives.
Photo courtesy of news1130