09/14/2012 04:06 EDT | Updated 11/14/2012 05:12 EST

5th B.C. Health Ministry employee fired over data breach

Another employee of the B.C. Ministry of Health has been fired over the improper use of personal health data, Minister Margaret MacDiarmid has confirmed.

The firing comes as the RCMP continue to investigate allegations of improper and illegal use of personal health information in medical research at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria.

So far, a total of five Ministry of Health staff have been fired and two remain suspended without pay as a result of the investigation.

MacDiarmid said last week it appeared medical information about an unknown number of British Columbians was taken and used for purposes that hadn't been approved, and that some of the people involved — both inside and outside the ministry — had relationships with each other that hadn’t been declared.

MacDiarmid said the fifth employee from the ministry's pharmaceutical services division was terminated Thursday after further investigation, but despite public concerns over the breach, that's all she was willing to say.

"The public has a lot of unanswered questions, as do I. And at this point there is an ongoing investigation, but there's also a lot information which we can't reveal because it would lead to identities of people which we can't do," she said.

The RCMP is also continuing to investigate, she noted.

"The other thing we absolutely don't want to do is jeopardize the investigation because it is very complicated and it is ongoing."

Also still suspended is $4 million in medical research at University of Victoria and UBC.

"It's very important research and the ministry is absolutely dedicated to getting going with that again, but I'm not able to get a timeline because we have to be confident...the data is being handled as it should be."