Cole Burston/CP LifeLabs signage is seen outside of one of the lab’s Toronto locations, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

Cole Burston/CP LifeLabs signage is seen outside of one of the lab’s Toronto locations, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.

In the news: LifeLabs lawsuit and no fireworks as fires rage in Australia

Here’s what’s making headlines on Dec. 30, 2019

What we are watching in Canada …

A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed against medical services company LifeLabs over a data breach that allowed hackers to access the personal information of up to 15 million customers.

An unproven statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Dec. 27, accuses LifeLabs of negligence, breach of contract and violating their customers’ confidence as well as privacy and consumer protection laws.

It was filed on behalf of five named plaintiffs, but seeks to represent all Canadians who used LifeLabs’ services, or else those who were told they were affected by the breach, if that information becomes available.

The plaintiffs allege LifeLabs “failed to implement adequate measures and controls to detect and respond swiftly to threats and risks to the Personal Information and health records of the class members,” in violation of the company’s own privacy policy.

LifeLabs has said the data hack affected up to 15 million customers, almost all of them in Ontario and British Columbia. The compromised database included health card numbers, names, email addresses, logins, passwords and dates of birth, but it was unclear how many files were accessed. The lab results of 85,000 customers in Ontario were also obtained by the hackers, the company said.

The class action, which has yet to be certified, asks for more than $1.13 billion in compensation for LifeLabs’ clients, who they say experienced repercussions including damage to their credit reputation, wasted time, and mental anguish.

READ MORE: LifeLabs facing proposed class action over data breach affecting up to 15M clients

—-

Also this …

— Jeremy Reitman, a stalwart of the Canadian womenswear scene who guided Montreal-based Reitmans Ltd. through the so-called retail apocalypse, has died.

The company announced the death of its chairman and CEO in a brief statement on Sunday, saying the entire company mourns for him.

“The board of directors, management team and employees of the company extend their deepest sympathies to the Reitman family.”

Reitman was also a loving father, stepfather and grandfather, according to an obituary published on the website of a Montreal funeral home.

The obituary says Reitman died peacefully in Florida on Saturday. It says he was an alumnus of Dartmouth College, McGill Law, Westmount High School and Camp Kennebec.

He was also the grandson of Reitmans Ltd. founders Herman and Sarah Reitman. His brother, Stephen Reitman, serves as chief operating officer.

Jeremy Reitman was head of the 93-year-old family business for a decade, serving as president before taking over as CEO and chairman. He steered the company through a rapidly changing retail landscape, contending with an influx of U.S. competitors who set their sights on the Canadian market and the rise of e-commerce. Amid the ruins of Canadian retailers, Reitmans is one of the few domestic chains still standing, though it is shrinking.

When he took control, the company was growing, from 854 stores in 2004 to 968 in 2011. Today, there are 587.

READ MORE: Reitmans CEO Jeremy Reitman has died, company announces

—-

ICYMI (in case you missed it) …

An annual review of how well the federal government interacts with Canadians as they access benefits suggests more people would turn to online channels, if there was a human around to help them out.

The Service Canada client survey found nearly half of people who could use online services would be convinced to do so if they had help by phone, an online chat or a video link.

And that, the report notes, is due to the fact that many people access benefits or services at meaningful points in their lives, which are often the first time they interact with Service Canada.

In turn, people have a sense of needing more help to make sure they are getting it right, so they trek down to government offices rather than filling out forms online.

The Service Canada review, which cost just under $250,000, was delivered earlier this year and made public this month.

Officials have been working for years on simplifying and expanding online services, but antiquated equipment as well as complicated rules for procurement and data use have slowed down the pace of change.

READ MORE: Service Canada told key to improving use, ease of online services is human touch

—-

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U.S. carried out military strikes in Iraq and Syria targeting an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia blamed for a rocket attack that killed an American contractor, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strikes send the message that the U.S. will not tolerate actions by Iran that jeopardize American lives.

“Precision defensive strikes” were conducted against five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, Defence Department spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement earlier Sunday.

The U.S. blames the militia for a rocket barrage Friday that killed a U.S. defence contractor at a military compound near Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. Officials said as many as 30 rockets were fired in Friday’s assault.

Esper said the U.S. hit three of the militia’s sites in western Iraq and two in eastern Syria, including weapon depots and the militia’s command and control bases.

U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagles carried out the strikes and all the aircraft safely returned to their home base, Esper said. At the ammunition storage facilities that were struck, significant secondary explosions were observed.

Pompeo, Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew to Palm Beach, Florida, after the operation to brief President Donald Trump.

—-

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

New Year’s Eve fireworks in Australia’s capital and other cities have been cancelled as the wildfire danger worsens in oppressive summer heat, and pressure was building for Sydney’s iconic celebrations to be similarly scrapped.

Temperatures on Tuesday were set to hit 38 Celsius in the capital, Canberra, and 33 C in Sydney, Australia’s largest city. Thick smoke that has shrouded the city’s iconic landmarks in recent months was also expected on Tuesday.

“Hot air is coming out of the centre of Australia, it’s particularly dry and then unfortunately conditions are expected to worsen in New South Wales as we head into Tuesday,” Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

Wildfires worsened by the southern hemisphere’s summertime heat have killed nine people and razed more than 1,000 homes in the past few months, with New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, bearing the brunt.

Of the 97 fires burning across New South Wales on Monday, 43 were not yet contained. Total fire bans were imposed in Sydney and other places.

The City of Sydney Council has approved Tuesday’s fireworks show, although fire authorities warned it could be cancelled if catastrophic wildfire conditions are declared.

—-

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Harbourview Apartments on Third Avenue (popularly referred to as “The Frigstad”). ELENA RARDON PHOTO
Port Alberni city council to discuss Harbourview Apartments in-camera

Owner of the property failed to meet Nov. 12 deadline

Josie Osborne was sworn into the Legislature virtually on Nov. 24. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Josie Osborne named minister of municipal affairs

The position was previously held by Selina Robinson, who is the province’s new finance minister

Rori Denness throws a javelin during BC Summer Games in 2016. (Black Press Media file photo)
Port Alberni ponders bidding for 2026 B.C. Summer Games

Port Alberni last hosted the BC Winter Games in 2004

Victoria artisan Tina Neurauter, right, used to shop at Pot Luck Ceramics with her daughter from Port Alberni. Now Neurauter is selling her handmade soaps and bath products at Bibi J’s, a new enterprise in the former Pot Luck Ceramics building on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Former Pot Luck Ceramics location reimagined as Bibi J’s

Owner Helma Swinkels revives social enterprise with new name, vision

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
MP to host expert panel for virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MacGregor’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Lake Cowichan’s Oliver Finlayson, second from left, and his family — including grandma Marnie Mattice, sister Avery, mom Amie Mattice and dad Blair Finlayson — were all smiles on Nov. 16 when their pool arrived, thanks to lots of fundraising and the generosity of the Cowichan Lake community. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Lake community comes together to help family get vital pool

Oliver Finlayson, 9, has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hydrotherapy is a big help

Penny Hart is emotional outside the Saanich Police Department as she pleads for helpt to find her son Sean Hart last seen Nov. 6 at a health institution in Saanich. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
VIDEO: Mother of missing Saanich man begs public to help find her son

Sean Hart last seen leaving Saanich mental health facility Nov. 6

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

Most Read