Systems offline at the Hamilton Street Railway as the City of Hamilton experiences a ransomware attack following a cybersecurity failure Credit: Joey Coleman

The City of Hamilton’s governance and services are being severely impacted by an ongoing cybersecurity failure, which has seen ransomware take over the City’s interconnected computer systems.

The City has disclosed some of the service disruptions that are occurring. Here’s what I’ve been hearing from multiple sources on City staff.

Hamilton has not declared an emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

(Note: I attended City Council on Monday. The City did not answer any questions following the meeting.)

Payroll

The City is manually processing pay for its approximately 9,000 employees, the vast majority of whom are salaried.

Full-time hourly employees in one section of the City told me they were paid a set amount of hours and that adjustments would be made later.

On Monday, in the hallway of City Hall, I asked the City’s Executive Director of Human Resources, Lora Fontana, about payroll issues.

“There have been some nuances, depending on the circumstances, but generally speaking, everyone is being paid as best as possible based on previous activity,” Fortana stated.

The City cannot provide staff with T4 tax slips. The City had transmitted the information to CRA prior to the breach. Employees can request their T4s from CRA.

A disabled IP phone at Hamilton City Hall during a ransomware incident resulted from a cybersecurity failure.

The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, 1996 and Municipal Act Section 284 Requirements

The City of Hamilton has not stated if it submitted its list of employees paid greater than $100,000 in 2023 to the Province of Ontario by March 5, as required by The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.

The City of Hamilton has until March 31 to release the 2023 remuneration given to members of the City Council, and all citizen appointees are paid honorariums to sit on local boards.

Having not formally declared an emergency, the City must meet legislative deadlines.

Fire Dispatch Impacts

Emergency responses are occurring without disruption. Sources tell me that fire dispatch is using manual processes.

Radio systems are working.

Routing and vehicle tracking systems are down.

However, assigning and dispatching units is not as efficient.

Employee Attendance Management Problems

Numerous employees in emergency services and the City’s public transit division tell me that managers are not able to track employee absences, they are unaware of what scheduled time off employees have booked (for things such as medical appointments), and are struggling to fill shifts.

“Our Systems Are Down,” signage at Hamilton City Hall during the second week of a cybersecurity failure.

Hamilton Street Railway

The HSR cannot track bus locations, and is struggling to maintain service due largely to the employee attendance management issues noted above.

HSR operators must continue driving their buses for one-hour or an additional trip when their relief operator does not show.

This is occurring a lot during the past two weeks. Operators are paid double time for this work.

Maintenance issues are becoming backlogged due to computer issues. Manual processes are in place.

On Wednesday, when Hamilton Police had to close King Street in Downtown Hamilton due to a shooting, it took over an hour for HSR managers to post detour information.

This does not appear to be related to computer issues. HSR office managers continue to enjoy “flexible” work-from-home arrangements and rarely respond to service disruptions in a timely manner.

Planning Act Fee Refund Deadlines

The City’s Planning Division has requested developers and their agents to resend applications and other documents.

Planning staff are using personal cellphones to communicate and some are using their personal computers to work.

Officially, the City of Hamilton states that planning applications are being processed. This is true, but they are not being processed efficiently.

The City is still required to process and have City Council decide on applications within 90 or 120 days.

If the City fails to meet these timelines, it must send applications for partial or full refunds for application fees.


Production Details
v. 1.0.0
Published: March 6, 2024
Last edited: March 6, 2024
Author: Joey Coleman
Edit Record
v. 1.0.0 original version
v. 1.1.0 correct spelling of one name, insert info on T4s that was removed when a photo was inserted.

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7 Comments

  1. I just got an email saying that our building permit (for a fence) will not be reviewed or issued due the to cyber attack.

    1. Thank you for sharing. I’ll update when I can confirm others are experiencing similar issues.

  2. A line got cut in the post:

    “The City cannot provide staff with T4 tax slips. The City had transmitted the information”

    What was the rest of that line?

      1. Oh no, thank YOU. My spouse won’t figure out the answer for me so you have been my unofficial household accountant for this tax year :)

  3. Is it legal for them not to pay overtime or car allowances? My sister is a crossing guard spare and she is only getting her base pay, but nothing for her travel time. She isn’t making enough to survive already. Without that extra money it’s impossible.

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