Several Ontario Disability Support recipients whose data was compromised in a recent breach have signed onto a class action lawsuit seeking compensation from the provincial government.

Lawyers with the Toronto law firm Rochon Genova LLP served notice Wednesday to the ministries of social services and the attorney general, indicating that they plan to take legal action on behalf of the thousands of people whose data was compromised.

“The letter puts the government on notice that we will commence legal action in 60 days on behalf of the 45,000 people who are affected by the beach,” lawyer Ron Podolny, a partner at the firm, told CTV News Toronto.

The action stems from a breach on Dec. 20 last year at a Mississauga ODSP office. An email that was sent out to inform 100 members about changes to a web portal also contained an Excel spreadsheet listing the names, client identification numbers and email addresses of 45,000 ODSP clients.

The ministry has blamed the mistake on human error and has said that it is working to ensure that all 100 recipients delete the email.  So far, 75 have complied, while 25 have not responded.

Those whose information was compromised were notified of the breach in a letter sent out about a month later.

Podolny said it’s up to the government to correct the situation.

“The government has to make it right,” Podolny told CTV News Toronto. “It has to fix the consequences of this data breach. It has to investigate who received this information and to make sure the information is deleted, to make sure that the information has not been forwarded or misused.”

Podolny said those affected should also be compensated for the distress the breach has caused

Reacting to news of the breach Tuesday, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod said she has apologized for the breach.

“We have taken aggressive and decisive action and I have apologized to the 45,000 people who were part of the breach.”

She said it underlines the need to improve the government’s use of current technologies.  

“It proves we need to reform our social assistance model to keep up with modern day technology,” MacLeod said.

MacLeod’s ministry did not return calls for comment on the lawsuit Wednesday. Neither did the Ministry of the Attorney General nor the Premier’s Office.

-With a report by CTV News Toronto Reporter Colin D'Mello