A Justice of the Peace in Goderich has handed down the largest fine in Canadian history for a health privacy breach.

A Masters of Social work student who was on an educational placement with the family health team in Central Huron has been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine and a $5,000 victim surcharge for accessing personal health information.

The student pled guilty to willfully accessing the personal health information of five individuals.

As part of her plea, she agreed that she accessed the personal health information of 139 individuals without authorization between Sept. 9, 2014 and March 5, 2015.

In delivering her reasons for sentence, the Justice of the Peace said:

“Overall, the victim impact statements reveal a lack of trust and a sense of reluctance to share information with future health care providers. I believe this is a truly significant factor, given that we all must believe that when we go to the doctor for our physical illnesses and our mental health illnesses, that we will be able to trust our own health care practitioners and their team and that what we tell them will be respected and held in confidence so we receive the treatment and care we deserve.”