Law Firms Work Together in Proposed Federal Class Action relating to Medical Marihuana Privacy Breach
November 26, 2013
HALIFAX – November 26, 2013
Canadian law firms McInnes Cooper and Branch MacMaster LLP have combined their respective class action teams to represent a proposed national class action against the Government of Canada. Separate claims were filed independently yesterday in Federal Court. The consolidated claim will seek damages arising from a breach of privacy that occurred when, earlier this month, Health Canada sent letters to approximately 40,000 patients via Canada Post, in envelopes that clearly indicated the named patient participated in the “Marihuana Medical Access Program”.
Health Canada’s disclosure of the patients’ private medical information has raised serious employment and security concerns, and caused the patients to suffer considerable stress and anxiety.
“As a result of Health Canada’s error, we have already spoken with a number of people whose lives have been affected by this breach,” said David Fraser, a leading Canadian privacy lawyer, and McInnes Cooper’s lead lawyer on this case.
“This privacy breach is unlike most. It not only compromises the confidentiality of participants’ personal and health information, but it also compromises participants’ physical safety and security,” said Kate Saunders of Branch MacMaster LLP.
McInnes Cooper and Branch MacMaster most recently worked together on the historic Manuge veterans’ pension class action against the Federal Government, which benefited approximately 8,000 disabled veterans.
About the Marihuana Medical Access Program (“MMAP”)
In July 2001, the Federal Government enacted the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations. The Regulations, among other things, empower the Minister of Health to issue authorizations and licenses to individuals with certain symptoms associated with particular medical conditions, permitting those individuals to possess and, in some cases, produce marihuana for medical purposes. The Minister of Health is responsible for administering the Regulations and does so through Canada Health’s Marihuana Medical Access Program (MMAP).
Prior to November 2013, all correspondence from Health Canada to holders of medical marihuana authorizations and licenses in relation to MMAP was conveyed by a private courier in envelopes that did not include the word “marihuana”. However, in November 2013, the Federal Government conveyed letters to participants in the Medical Marihuana Access Program with “Marihuana Medical Access Program” stamped on the outside of the envelope.
About the Members of the Class
Anyone who received or expects to receive, a letter from Health Canada with “Marihuana Medical Access Program” printed on the outside of the envelope is automatically a member of this class. These individuals are encouraged to go to www.branchmacmaster.com/medical-marihuana/ OR www.mcinnescooper.com/privacyclassaction for further information regarding this proposed class action. Individuals also may send a confidential email to [email protected] OR [email protected] to be added to a list of class members wishing to receive electronic updates from counsel with respect to this action. McInnes Cooper also has a telephone line dedicated to proposed class members: 1.902.454.8929 or toll-free at 1.855.669.3118.
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