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LifeLabs facing proposed class action over data breach affecting up to 15M clients – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Sunday, December 29, 2019 4:42PM EST


Last Updated Sunday, December 29, 2019 5:16PM EST

TORONTO – 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.

In an unproven statement of claim filed in Ontario Superior Court on Dec. 27, lawyers Peter Waldmann and Andrew Stein accuse LifeLabs of negligence, breach of contract and violating their customers’ confidence as well as privacy and consumer protection laws.

The statement of claim was filed on behalf of five named plaintiffs, including lead plaintiff Christopher Sparling, 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.

In the court document, specific allegations include a failure to implement “any, or adequate, cyber-security measures,” neglecting to hire or train personnel responsible for network security management, storing personal information on unsecured network and servers, and failing to encrypt the data.

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.

“The Plaintiffs and the Class Members are therefore obliged to take all reasonable steps necessary to protect their information including hours of wasted time and inconvenience involved in applying for identity theft protection services, changing passwords, notifying financial institutions and applying for new social insurance numbers from Service Canada, as well as the humiliation and mental distress of having lab tests results released without their consent,” the statement of claim read.

The plaintiffs are also seeking additional punitive and moral damages.

LifeLabs chief executive Charles Brown apologized earlier this month for the breach, which led the company to pay a ransom to retrieve the data.

The company also assured the public that its consultants have seen no evidence that data from LifeLabs has been trafficked by criminal groups that are known to buy and sell such data over the internet.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 29, 2019.

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Cathay Pacific to cut 5,900 jobs, end Cathay Dragon brand due to pandemic – Reuters

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2 billion ($283.9 million).

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The actions we have announced today, however unpalatable, are absolutely necessary to bring cash burn down to more sustainable levels,” Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy told reporters.

Cathay shares jumped almost 7% during early trading and closed 2.3% higher, with broker Jefferies saying the announcement removed a key overhang on the stock.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have already announced similarly large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

After receiving a $5 billion rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review.

The airline said it was bleeding HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by HK$500 million a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

Cathay will postpone the delivery of its 21 Boeing Co 777-9 jets on order beyond 2025, Healy said.

EXIT THE DRAGON

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand, though in this case 2,500 Cathay Dragon pilots and cabin crew will lose their jobs.

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Plans to merge Cathay Dragon into Cathay’s main brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told Reuters in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes in Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Healy said there would be “substantial savings” from combining Cathay Dragon’s narrowbody fleet with Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet and focusing on marketing of a single premium brand.

In the short-term, the closure of the Cathay Dragon brand will result in it being unable to carry cargo to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, and it will only send dedicated freighters to Xiamen, Chengdu and Hanoi, it told cargo customers in a memo, indicating the routes were cut for now.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1% compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6%.

Cathay shares have fallen 41% since the start of January.

The airline’s share register is dominated by Swire Pacific Ltd, Air China Ltd, Qatar Airways and the Hong Kong government, with only a 12% free float.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates and Louise Heavens

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways slashes jobs, kills Dragon – Aljazeera.com

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Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost 2.2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($283.9m), it told the stock exchange.

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions or 24 percent of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The global pandemic continues to have a devastating impact on aviation and the hard truth is we must fundamentally restructure the group to survive,” Cathay Chief Executive Officer Augustus Tang said in a statement.

“The future remains highly uncertain and it is clear that recovery is slow,” Cathay said in Wednesday’s statement. “The management team has concluded that the most optimistic scenario it can responsibly adopt is one in which, for the year 2021, the company will be operating at well under 50 percent of the passenger capacity it operated in 2019.”

Cathay’s announcement came a day after Hong Kong said its unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent for the July-September period, its highest level in almost 16 years, from 6.1 percent from June to August.

Devastating fallout

The coronavirus has had a devastating effect on aviation. As many as 46 million jobs are at risk, and airlines alone face about $420bn in lost revenue this year.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have also announced large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay was struggling with losses before the pandemic as anti-government protests in Hong Kong led to a sharp reduction in traffic last year and a change in management. The pandemic pushed the carrier into survival mode, forcing it to cut capacity and offer its staff voluntary no-pay leave.

The airline, which has stored about 40 percent of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50 percent of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

Cathay Pacific has stored about 40 percent of its aircraft outside Hong Kong [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

After receiving a $5bn rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review that analysts expected would result in significant job losses.

The airline said it was bleeding between 1.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($193.6m) to 2 billion Hong Kong dollars ($258m) of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by 500 million Hong Kong dollars ($64m) a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected a more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand.

Dragon’s end

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong that deterred mainland travellers.

Low-cost regional carrier Cathay Dragon will cease operating immediately under Cathay Pacific’s cost-cutting plan [File: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg]

Plans to end the brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told the Reuters news agency in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes into Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

“Now that Cathay has decided on staff count and the elimination of the Dragon brand it knows the size of the airline and the structure going forward and can complete its new fleet and network plan,” said Brendan Sobie, an independent aviation analyst.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1 percent compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6 percent.

Singapore and Hong Kong said on October 15 they planned to open their borders to one another for the first time in almost seven months, with quarantine replaced by coronavirus testing. The travel bubble could start with one flight per day according to Hong Kong Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau.

Cathay shares have fallen 43 percent since the start of January. In July, it reached an agreement with Airbus SE to delay the delivery of A350s and A321neos and said it was in advanced talks with Boeing Co about deferring its 777-9 orders.

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Scientists raise alarm over signs of vaccine 'hesitancy' – CTV News

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PARIS —
Scientists called for urgent action to improve public trust in immunization as research suggested sizeable minorities in some nations may be reluctant to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

With few effective treatments and no cure for the coronavirus, companies and governments are racing to develop vaccines in a bid to arrest the pandemic.

But there is increasing concern that “vaccine hesitancy” is also on the rise, with misinformation and mistrust colouring people’s acceptance of scientific advances.

In a new study published Tuesday in Nature Medicine, researchers in Spain, the U.S. and Britain surveyed 13,400 in 19 countries hit hard by COVID-19 and found that while 72 per cent said they would be immunized, 14 per cent would refuse and another 14 per cent would hesitate.

When extrapolated across whole populations this could amount to tens of millions of people who may avoid vaccination, the authors said.

“These findings should be a call to action for the international health community,” said co-author Heidi Larson, who runs the Vaccine Confidence Project at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“If we do not start building vaccine literacy and restoring public trust in science today, we cannot hope to contain this pandemic.”

Researchers found that people who had least faith in their governments were less likely to accept a vaccine — and even those who had been ill with the virus were not more likely to respond positively.

While in China 88 per cent of respondents said they would take “a proven, safe and effective vaccine”, the highest of all the countries surveyed, the proportion dipped to 75 per cent in the U.S. and was as low as 55 per cent in Russia.

“We found that the problem of vaccine hesitancy is strongly related with a lack of trust in government,” said study coordinator Jeffrey Lazarus, of the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.

When asked if they would accept an approved, safe vaccine recommended by their employer, only 32 per cent of respondents completely agreed.

Acceptance rates again varied widely by country, with China again having the most clearly positive responses (84 per cent either completely or somewhat agreed) and Russia with the least (27 per cent).

People were less likely to accept a vaccine if it was mandated by their employer, the authors said.

The study, released at the Union World Conference on Lung Health, found greater acceptance of vaccines among people earning more than US$32 a day.

They also found older people were more likely to accept a vaccine than those under 22.

TRUST BUILDING

In a new initiative launched Tuesday and supported by the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, scientists involved in vaccine development will appear in a series of videos on social media to help raise public confidence in their work.

The researchers and clinicians in the U.K., U.S., South Africa, India and Brazil will be posting under the hashtag #TeamHalo — a reference to the circle of global scientific endeavour — on TikTok, Twitter and Instagram.

“I’m used to spending time pipetting samples and analysing data,” said Anna Blakney, a participating bioengineer who is part of the vaccine development team at Imperial College in London.

“TikTok is a new frontier for me but I’m enthusiastic about demystifying our work and making it accessible to the world.”

Earlier this month a study in the journal Royal Society Open Science found up to a third of people in some countries may believe coronavirus misinformation and in turn be less open to immunization.

And recent research from Cornell University found that U.S. President Donald Trump was the world’s biggest driver of COVID-19 misinformation, because of his promotion of what the researchers termed “miracle cures”.

Meanwhile, the speed of development has caused concerns in some countries, with Russia’s announcement in August that it would begin roll-out of the Sputnik V vaccine before crucial phase 3 trials criticized as premature. 

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