Decisions

125 decisions found

May 15
2020

The duty to assist – clarification of the request and collaboration of both parties (6.1-0005)

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on a request for information under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act (the Act). The head of the institution was of the opinion that it had met its duty to assist the requester in connection with this request, and that the request is an abuse of the right of access.

The Commissioner found that the application was premature. The institution took issue with the clarity of the access request, in addition to other arguments, yet failed to seek clarification of the access request from the requester. The Commissioner also elaborated upon several important elements to an application: compelling evidence regarding the request at issue and the general overarching obligations of both parties to clarify the request under ss. 4(2.1) – responsibility of government institutions, and 6 – request for access to record.

The Commissioner denied the application.

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Apr 3
2020

Final report (3215-00087): Canadian Human Rights Commission

Institution
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Section of the Act
19
23
Decision Type
final report
Summary

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) refused to disclose information citing subsection 19(1) – Personal information, section 22 – Testing/auditing procedures, and section 23 – Solicitor-client privilege of the Access to Information Act .

During the course of the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)’s investigation, the CHRC agreed to disclose all information previously withheld under section 22 of the Act and portions that were previously withheld under solicitor-client privilege. While the CHRC refused to disclose the remainder of the withheld information, it did not convince the OIC  that such information met all the requirements for severance under subsection 19(1) and section 23 of the Act.

The OIC therefore issued a report recommending that the CHRC disclose portions of the information previously withheld as personal information and portions of the information previously withheld under solicitor-client privilege. The CHRC agreed with the recommendations and released additional information.

The complaint is well-founded.

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Mar 12
2020

The duty to assist – an important step before an application to decline

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on a request for information under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. The head of the institution was of the opinion that it had met its duty to assist and that the access request is an abuse of the right of access. The requester took the position that the institution should process the access request and indicated a willingness to work with the institution to find a solution.

The Commissioner found that the application was premature. The institution did not satisfy her that, in keeping with its duty to assist, it was unable to find reasonable ways to continue working with the requester in order to process the access request. As a result, the Commissioner did not make a finding on whether the access request is an abuse of the right of access at this time.

The Commissioner denied the application. The institution is required to act on the access request.

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Feb 18
2020

Final report (5819-01440): Royal Canadian Mounted Police

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

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had not responded to a request for information under the Access to Information Act more than two years after receiving it and is deemed to have refused to give access. During the investigation, the RCMP provided very little information about the records or the processing of the access request, to help determine a response date. Without these details and because the RCMP had still not responded to the access request, the Commissioner orders the RCMP to respond to the access request within 10 business days from the day the order takes effect.* The complaint is well-founded.

* The RCMP responded to the request on March 2, 2020, before the coming into effect of the order.

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Feb 5
2020

Repetitive, duplicative requests - both vexatious and an abuse of the right to make a request

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act (the Act). The institution alleged that the access request is both vexatious and an abuse of the right to make a request.

The institution explained that the requester was displeased with how the institution handled his affairs and that in the 17 years since, has submitted a total of 893 requests, many of which are closely related.

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Jan 14
2020

Final report (5819-00733): Royal Canadian Mounted Police

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

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is deemed to have refused to give access to records requested under the Access to Information Act (R.S.C., 1985, C. A-1). The RCMP was asked, and failed to provide adequate representations. Since the breach of the Act was ongoing, an initial report with intended order was issued. Following the receipt of the initial report, the RCMP responded to the access request rendering any prospective order pointless. The complaint is well-founded.

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Nov 29
2019

Formal request for information already received in response to a request not made under the Act –Vexatious, abusive or made in bad faith?

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act.

The institution explained that, in response to a request not made under the Act (the “informal request”), it had already disclosed to the same requester some of the information sought in an access request (the “formal request”).

The institution sought the Commissioner’s approval to exclude the informally released records from the scope of the formal access request.

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Aug 29
2019

Multiple access requests by former employee — Vexatious, abusive or made in bad faith?

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. The institution alleged that the access request is vexatious, is an abuse of the right to make a request and is in bad faith.

The institution explained that the requester is a former employee who was dismissed. Since this time, the requester has pursued other proceedings in relation to the termination. The requester has also submitted over a dozen requests under the Act and Privacy Act over a one-year period.

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Jun 18
2019

Evidence essential to justify lengthy time extensions

Institution
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Section of the Act
9(2)
Decision Type
notable investigation
Summary

Complaint: A requester alleged that the 2,400 days in time extensions the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) claimed to process multiple overlapping requests for information about the federal public service pension plan were unreasonable.

Investigation: The OIC learned that not all of the records were electronic and that they were stored in multiple locations. In addition, TBS had to consult six institutions about the records, and only a few in-house staff had the expertise to identify and review the records. TBS allocated as many resources within its pensions unit as it could to these requests without unduly disrupting operations, and heavily involved executives in reviewing records. The access office developed a plan to respond to the requests, dedicating a significant amount of resources to processing the records.

Outcome: In the end, the Commissioner was satisfied that TBS had provided sufficient information to justify the length of the extensions, taken all necessary steps to ensure it would be able to respond to the requests by the extended deadline and demonstrated its commitment to processing them. TBS issued interim responses as information became ready for release.

Information Commissioner’s position:

  • The Access to Information Act sets out the response time for requests of 30 days, but acknowledges that processing some requests within that timeframe may be impossible.
  • Institutions may extend the deadline for their response for a reasonable time in these situations but must provide detailed information about their plans to issue the final response to the request by the extended deadline.
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Jun 18
2019

Meeting the duty to assist requires intelligible response

Institution
Transport Canada
Section of the Act
15
Decision Type
notable investigation
Summary

Complaint: After being instructed by the Federal Court to reasonably exercise its discretion to release information under subsection 15(1), Transport Canada again decided to withhold the information.

Investigation: Over the course of the investigation, Transport Canada provided convincing evidence that it had exercised its discretion reasonably at the time of its second decision to protect the information.

Outcome: Nevertheless, the Commissioner closed the complaint as well founded, given that the new decision was written in such a way that it was impossible for the requester to have understood that Transport Canada had exercised its discretion properly. The Commissioner also concluded that, in providing such a response, the institution had contravened its obligation to make every reasonable effort to assist the requester.

Information Commissioner’s position:

  • The duty to assist requires institutions’ responses to requesters to be intelligible. Given the direction of the Federal Court in this case, Transport Canada’s response should have included the specific factors it considered in exercising its discretion anew.
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