Decisions

Type

197 decisions found

Apr 26
2022

Access at issue: The challenge of accessing our collective memory

Institution
Library and Archives Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Systemic investigation
Summary

In January of 2021, the Information Commissioner initiated a systemic investigation into Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) delayed responses to access requests. This investigation was prompted by the Office of the Information Commissioner’s (OIC) investigations conducted over a number of years, resulting in findings that LAC was not responding to access requests by the legislative deadlines, a trend that worsened during the pandemic.

The complaint is well founded since the investigation found that for the period under investigation, almost 80% of the requests completed by LAC did not comply with the timeframes set out in the Act.

In January 2022, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, as head of LAC was informed of the Commissioner’s findings. A total of ten (10) recommendations were made to the Minister and a response to the Commissioner’s recommendations was received in February 2022.

In April 2022, the Commissioner tabled a special report in Parliament pursuant to paragraph 39(1) of the Act. The special report sheds light on issues within LAC and also draws Parliament’s attention to two broader challenges facing Canada’s access to information system:

  • the manner in which consultations on access requests are conducted between institutions; and
  • the lack of a Government-wide framework for the declassification of records.
Read more
Apr 19
2022

Library and Archives Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 17

Institution
Library and Archives Canada
Section of the Act
30
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

In January of 2021, the Information Commissioner initiated a systemic investigation into Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) delayed responses to access requests. This investigation was prompted by the Office of the Information Commissioner’s (OIC) investigations conducted over a number of years, resulting in findings that LAC was not responding to access requests by the legislative deadlines, a trend that worsened during the pandemic.

The complaint is well founded since the investigation found that for the period under investigation, almost 80% of the requests completed by LAC did not comply with the timeframes set out in the Act.

In January 2022, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, as head of LAC was informed of the Commissioner’s findings. A total of ten (10) recommendations were made to the Minister and a response to the Commissioner’s recommendations was received in February 2022.

In April 2022, the Commissioner tabled a special report in Parliament pursuant to paragraph 39(1) of the Act. The special report sheds light on issues within LAC and also draws Parliament’s attention to two broader challenges facing Canada’s access to information system:

  • the manner in which consultations on access requests are conducted between institutions; and
  • the lack of a Government-wide framework for the declassification of records.
Read more
Mar 18
2022

Trans Mountain Corporation (Re), 2022 OIC 20

Institution
Trans Mountain Corporation
Section of the Act
13(1)
17
18
20
21
22
23
26
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Trans Mountain Corporation (TMC) had improperly withheld information under paragraphs 21(1)(a) (advice or recommendations), 21(1)(b) (accounts of consultations or deliberations) and section 26 (information to be published) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for documents pertaining to the Trans Mountain Project and related to specific TMC Board of Directors meetings held in 2019.

During the course of the investigation, TMC informed the OIC that it had decided to continue to withhold all of the information responsive to the request, in accordance with, not only the three exemptions mentioned above, but also the following twelve exemptions: paragraphs 13(1)(c) (confidential information from government bodies), 18(a) (government financial, commercial, scientific or technical information), 18(b) (competitive position of government institutions), 20(1)(a) (third-party trade secrets), 20(1)(b) (confidential third-party financial, commercial, scientific or technical information), 20(1)(b.1) (third-party emergency management plans), 20(1)(c) (financial impact on a third party), 20(1)(d) (negotiations by a third party), and sections 17 (safety of individuals), 22 (testing or auditing procedures or techniques), 22.1 (draft internal audit reports and their working papers), and 23 (legal advice and litigation privilege) of the Act.

TMC failed to convince the Commissioner that it had applied the Act correctly to the entirety of the information found in the record and did not provide sufficient details for the Commissioner to decide whether it had reasonably exercised its discretion to decide not to release the information. Accordingly, the Commissioner found that further disclosure was warranted.

As a result, the Commissioner provided the President and Chief Executive Officer of TMC with her initial report setting out her intended order to disclose all information withheld under the Act.

Following receipt of the Commissioner’s intended order, the President and Chief Executive Officer of TMC gave the Commissioner notice that he would be partially implementing her order by releasing portions of the records. Thereafter, the complainant indicated to the OIC that they were satisfied with the additional information that had been released. Therefore, an order was no longer required.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Mar 11
2022

Department of Finance Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 19

Institution
Finance Canada
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Department of Finance Canada (Finance) failed to respond to a request for information within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act.

The Information Commissioner found that the delay in responding to the requests mainly rests with Finance’s Office of Primary Interest, the Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, which has failed to provide records to Finance’s Access to Information and Privacy office in a timely fashion.

The Information Commissioner ordered the Minister of Finance to provide a final response to the request for information submitted on July 22, 2020 forthwith.

Finance gave notice that it would be implementing the order and respond to the request on a priority basis.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Mar 10
2022

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2022 OIC 18

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
7
10(3)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) did not respond to four access requests within the 30-day time limit set out in section 7 of the Access to Information Act.

The investigations showed that the RCMP did not meet its obligation, in all four requests, to respond within the 30-day time limit. The RCMP could not demonstrate how the operational challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic justified the significant delays in obtaining responsive records from its Offices of Primary Interest (OPIs).

Given the 2020 systemic investigation and the public commitments that were made by the former Minister of Public Safety on behalf of the RCMP, the Information Commissioner was disappointed that some of the problems that were identified have yet to be addressed.

The Information Commissioner ordered the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to prepare a final response to each of the four requests forthwith.

The RCMP gave notice that the complainant had agreed to consolidate all four requests into one (A-2020-02614) and that the RCMP would respond to this request by March 18, 2022.

All four complaints are well founded.

Read more
Mar 4
2022

Public Services and Procurement Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 16

Institution
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Section of the Act
4(2.1)
67
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) did not process their access request in accordance with the Access to Information Act. Specifically, the complainant alleged that PSPC obstructed their right of access under the Act by concealing the requested records. The request focused on a list of contracts awarded in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This investigation centred on the processing of the request under the Act, since it is not the Office of the Information Commissioner’s role to investigate allegations under section 67.1. Although there were serious failures in the processing of the access request, the Commissioner is not of the opinion that there is any evidence of an offence.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Mar 3
2022

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Re), 2022 OIC 15

Institution
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Section of the Act
18
19
21
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (TBS) had improperly withheld information under subsection 19(1)(personal information) and paragraphs 18(b) (negotiations by government institutions)21(1)(a) (advice or recommendations)21(1)(c) (positions or plans developed for negotiations) and 21(1)(d) (plans related to personnel management or administration) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for records pertaining to increased use of sick leave prior to retirement.

Over the course of the investigation, the complainant decided it was no longer necessary for the Office of Information Commissioner to investigate subsection 19(1) and reduced the scope of the complaint to pages 2, 3, 4 and 12 of TBS’s response.

TBS could not show that it met all the requirements for the remainder of these exemptions since the information on the pages at issue was of a statistical and dated nature. TBS failed to demonstrate how the information at hand could reasonably lead to interference with negotiations or represent a “take away” to bargaining agents regarding future plans for personnel management or administration.

The Information Commissioner recommended that TBS disclose in full, all pages at issue. TBS gave notice that it would not be implementing the recommendations.

Even if sick leave has been proven to be a sensitive issue, the Information Commissioner urged TBS’s President to reconsider its position, and to right the historical wrong that occurred during the processing of this access request; if not on the basis of the law, in the name of transparency.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Feb 22
2022

Department of Justice Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 13

Institution
Justice Canada
Section of the Act
23
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Department of Justice Canada (Justice) had improperly withheld information in response to a request for the name, file number and pleadings of cases filed with the Tax Court of Canada for a specific period, which had section 245 of the Income Tax Act (ITA) as a basis for a reassessment by the Canada Revenue Agency. The information at issue has been protected under section 23 (solicitor‐client and litigation privilege) of the Access to Information Act.

When responding to the request, Justice created a two‐page printout, generated from information stored in its iCase database, through a search for cases involving section 245 of the ITA within an “issues” field. During the OIC’s investigation, Justice further retrieved the requested pleadings and entirely exempted them under section 23 of the Act.

The investigation showed that although Justice opted to generate a list of relevant cases through information inputted by legal counsel into its iCase database, it did not establish that the identification of information responsive to the request hinged on information subject to either legal advice privilege or litigation privilege. Therefore, Justice could not justify the application of section 23. The Information Commissioner recommended that Justice disclose the responsive records in their entirety.
Justice gave notice to the Information Commissioner that it would not be implementing the recommendation and remains of the view that disclosure of the information would lead to indirect access to privileged information.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Feb 14
2022

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (Re), 2022 OIC 12

Institution
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Section of the Act
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) received a complaint under paragraph 30(1)(f) of the Access to Information Act alleging that the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), in its role as administrator of the federal access to information system, failed to provide adequate support to government institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The complainant alleged that this, in turn, impeded, and continues to impede, the right of access to government information the Act affords.

The complainant also alleged that TBS’s failure to adequately support government institutions in managing their access to information and privacy (ATIP) offices and processing access requests during the pandemic was contrary to the principles of openness and transparency.

The investigation showed that TBS was engaged in reminding institutions of their obligations under the Act, made efforts to clarify institutions’ responsibilities under the Act and policy, and addressed matters of misinterpretation on the part of at least some institutions.

The Information Commissioner was, therefore, unable to conclude that the guidance provided by TBS during the period covered by the investigation was inappropriate. Given the scope of TBS’ limited authority to exert any direct control over institutions’ day-to-day access to information operations, the Commissioner concluded that the support provided to institutions, in the early months of the pandemic, was adequate.

The complaint is therefore not well founded.

Read more
Feb 10
2022

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 09

Institution
Immigration and Refugee Board
Section of the Act
21
23
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) improperly withheld information under paragraph 21(1)(a) (advice or recommendations) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for records consisting of Fee Analysis Reports and fee monitoring dashboards that include cost recovery information for various immigration application programs from 2013-2019.

During the investigation, IRCC invoked section 23 (legal advice and litigation privilege) in addition to paragraph 21(1)(a) to the entire records.

IRCC could not show that it met all the requirements of these exemptions, in particular the information being withheld does not provide any advice or recommendations to IRCC’s senior management on decisions to be made. Overall, these reports appear to be purely factual and devoid of any specific advice.

The Commissioner sent an initial report to the Minister of IRCC, setting out the intended order to release the records in their entirety. The Minister informed the Commissioner that the information was released; therefore, the intended order became pointless and was not issued.

The complaint is well founded.

Read more
Date modified:
Submit a complaint