Mistaken identity involving prisoner and health card was human error, Ontario government says

Click to play video: 'Hamilton man’s health card used by prison Inmate' Hamilton man’s health card used by prison Inmate
WATCH ABOVE (Aug. 21, 2020): A Hamilton man found out by mistake that his health card was used for blood tests by a prisoner at a jail in east Toronto. The man says he feared for weeks he was a victim of identity theft. As Sean O’Shea reports, it appears the information was supplied by the Ontario government – Aug 21, 2020

A Hamilton man who wanted to know why a prisoner was using his health care number for medical treatment has his answer: someone in the Ontario government made a mistake and the problem was allowed to go on for four years.

As Global News first reported on Aug. 21, Arthur Gallant had discovered that an inmate at a Toronto jail was using his health card number for treatment.

“Had I not been monitoring my blood test results online, I never would have known my health card number was given out and used by someone else,” Gallant told Global News in an interview in the summer.

“How many other Canadians has this happened to?” Gallant wondered.

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Now, after an investigation by ServiceOntario, the government says “human error” led to an inmate at the Toronto East Correctional Centre using his card.

“Your health card number was mistakenly provided to a correctional facility as early as 2016,” wrote Cameron Sinclair, assistant deputy minister of customer care for ServiceOntario.

“The facility had an inmate with an identical last name and date of birth to you; unfortunately, ServiceOntario mis-identified the correctional facility patient as you,” Sinclair wrote in a letter to Gallant.

Gallant noticed the mistake after getting blood work at a LifeLabs location in Hamilton on July 10 and July 20. When he went to the company’s website to check on the test results, he saw that a doctor had ordered tests for a patient with a copy to be sent to the detention centre.

He complained to the ministry and to LifeLabs, which advised him not to contact the media, Gallant said at the time.

In a two-page explanation, the government said it was “working to learn from this incident to reduce likelihood of this occuring again the future.”

“Let me assure you that what happened in this case is not typical of the high standards that ServiceOntario strives to maintain. We continue to be committed to providing you and our customers with the highest standard of service possible,” Sinclair wrote.

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“On behalf of ServiceOntario, I apologize for this error,” he added.

Sinclair said government staff had received training in January but the mixup wasn’t caught until it was discovered by Gallant himself.

“This training must have been inadequate and I’m calling on the province to immediately launch a thorough review of how Ontarians’ private information is shared between ministries and government agencies,” Gallant told Global News.

“The apology I received from the province is unsatisfactory.”

He spoke with Premier Doug Ford’s chief of staff and asked for a virtual meeting with the minister of government and consumer services, Lisa Thompson, and Ford.

Gallant said he declined the offer of a phone call with the assistant deputy minister.

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As a result of the government’s mistake, there are also incorrect blood test results on Gallant’s file with LifeLabs, something he wanted rectified when he first contacted Global News.

“(We) will be writing to LifeLabs to request their assistance in removing and correcting the erroneous lab test results that appear on your record,” Sinclair promised.

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