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Invitation for public comments on new disposition categories

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) is seeking public comments on its new disposition categories

In the 2007-2008 Special Report to Parliament on Report Cards and Systemic Issues Affecting Access to Information in Canada, the OIC  committed to review the way it classifies complaints with a view to developing and implementing a new set of disposition categories.

Currently, complaints received by the OIC fall into the following categories:

  • resolved: when a complaint has merit and the institution has resolved it to the Commissioner's satisfaction;

  • not substantiated: when a complaint could not be substantiated, i.e. the institution acted correctly;

  • not resolved: when a complaint has merit but the institution did not accept the Commissioner's recommendations. To resolve the complaint, the Commissioner or the complainant may consider taking court action for those complaints involving refusal of access.

In addition complaints may be:

  • discontinued: when a complainant withdraws or abandons the complaint after the investigation begins.

Both complainants and institutions subject to the Access to Information Act have said that the resolved category comprises too many types of outcomes and lacks clarity. It may also give a misleading impression of an institution’s performance.

Following a review and consultation with access to information coordinators and OIC staff, the OIC is proposing new categories which follow closely the terminology of section 37 of the Act:

  • well founded:
    • well founded with recommendations – resolved;
    • well founded with recommendations – not resolved;
    • well founded, resolved without recommendations.

  • not well founded;
  • settled;
  • discontinued.

Definitions of these new categories are found in Annex A. In addition, all well founded complaints would >result in a formal report pursuant to section 37 of the Act. This would mark a change from the current approach at the OIC.

Interested parties are invited to provide comments by e-mail no later than March 26, 2010 at

Responses will be posted on the OIC’s website unless otherwise specified. Note that personal information will be protected in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

The Information Commissioner is an officer of Parliament and ombudsman, appointed by Parliament under the Access of Information Act, Canada's freedom of information legislation. The Commissioner reviews the complaints of individuals and organizations who believe that federal institutions have not respected their rights under the Act.