Decisions

The Information Commissioner publishes the final reports on her investigations on this Web site when she deems them to be of value in providing guidance to both institutions and complainants.

The Office of the Information Commissioner has established the Decisions Database to enable users to search final reports and other decisions, which outline the reasons and principles behind the Commissioner’s decisions and filter them using a number of criteria.

This database is updated regularly and will continue to grow as more final reports and decisions are added.

Other Corporate publications are available on the website.

Filters
Decision Type

88 decisions found

Dec 15
2020

Transport Canada (Re), 2020 OIC 16

Institution
Transport Canada
Section of the Act
14
20
21
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant disputed the decision by Transport Canada to withhold information related to vehicle safety recall completion rates by applying sections 14, 20 and 21 of the Access to Information Act. The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) sought representations from the complainant, Transport Canada and a third party. The Commissioner was not satisfied that Transport Canada or the third party had met its burden of demonstrating that the exemptions applied to the information at issue. The Commissioner therefore recommended that Transport Canada release all information previously withheld, with the exception of certain personal information. Transport Canada gave notice that the recommendations would be implemented. The complaint is well founded.

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Dec 14
2020

VIA Rail Canada Inc. (Re), 2020 OIC 15

Institution
VIA Rail Canada
Section of the Act
18
21
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant disputed VIA Rail’s decision to withhold information related to a High Frequency Rail Proposal in response to an access request. The information was withheld under multiple paragraphs of the Access to Information Act. VIA Rail failed to demonstrate that the information withheld fell within the scope of the exemptions claimed. In addition, VIA Rail did not conduct a severance exercise to disclose non-exempt information. The Information Commissioner recommended that VIA Rail engage in a severance exercise, release all information which does not meet the criteria for exemption, and exercise discretion with regard to the remaining information at issue. The complaint is well founded.

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Nov 9
2020

Privy Council Office (Re), 2020 OIC 14

Institution
Privy Council Office
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Privy Council Office (PCO) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. The access request consisted of minutes of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1962. PCO claimed an extension of time to respond to the access request, in part to conduct consultations with other government institutions. PCO sent a letter informing the complainant that it would not be processing the access request because it had not received recommendations from other government institutions, and closed the file, according to its “no late file” policy.

The Act does not authorize PCO to fail to respond to an access request on the grounds that it has yet to receive recommendations from consulted institutions. The Office of the Information Commissioner concludes that PCO was in deemed refusal pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act.

The Information Commissioner recommended that the Clerk of the Privy Council take the necessary steps to respond to the access request by November 16, 2020 and revoke or revise its current policy so that the processing of all requests are in accordance with its obligations under the Act. PCO did not agree to the November 16, 2020 response date, but committed to responding by December 17, 2020. PCO confirmed that it had revoked its “no late file” policy.

The complaint is well founded. PCO has respected its commitment.

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Nov 9
2020

Privy Council Office (Re), 2020 OIC 13

Institution
Privy Council Office
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Privy Council Office (PCO) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. The access request consisted of minutes of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1968. PCO claimed an extension of time to respond to the access request, in part to conduct consultations with other government institutions. When the consulted institutions did not respond before the deadline, PCO sent a letter informing the complainant that it would not be processing the access request because it had not received recommendations from other government institutions, and closed the file, according to its “no late file” policy.

The Act does not authorize PCO to fail to respond to an access request on the grounds that it has yet to receive recommendations from consulted institutions. The Office of the Information Commissioner concludes that PCO was in deemed refusal pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act.

The Information Commissioner recommended that the Clerk of the Privy Council take the necessary steps to respond to the access request by November 16, 2020 and revoke or revise its current policy so that the processing of all requests are in accordance with its obligations under the Act. PCO did not agree to the November 16, 2020 response date, but committed to responding by December 17, 2020. PCO confirmed that it had revoked its “no late file” policy.

The complaint is well founded. PCO has respected its commitment.

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Nov 9
2020

Privy Council Office (Re), 2020 OIC 12

Institution
Privy Council Office
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Privy Council Office (PCO) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. The access request consisted of minutes of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1971. PCO claimed an extension of time to respond to the access request, in part to conduct consultations with other government institutions. When the consulted institutions did not respond before the deadline, PCO sent a letter informing the complainant that it would not be processing the access request because it had not received recommendations from other government institutions, and closed the file, according to its “no late file” policy.

The Act does not authorize PCO to fail to respond to an access request on the grounds that it has yet to receive recommendations from consulted institutions. The Office of the Information Commissioner concludes that PCO was in deemed refusal pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act.

The Information Commissioner recommended that the Clerk of the Privy Council take the necessary steps to respond to the access request by November 16, 2020 and revoke or revise its current policy so that the processing of all requests are in accordance with its obligations under the Act. PCO agreed to implement both recommendations.

The complaint is well founded. PCO has since responded to the access request.

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Oct 16
2020

Health Canada (Re), 2020 OIC 9

Institution
Health Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

A complainant alleged that Health Canada had failed to identify all records responsive to a request under the Access to Information Act and ought to have also produced an index of all responsive records. The investigation showed that Health Canada had conducted a reasonable search for responsive records and there was no evidence of missing records. It was also determined that Health Canada’s refusal to provide the complainant with an index of all responsive records did not contravene its duty to assist obligations under subsection 4(2.1), as the creation of an index, with respect to this particular request, would have been unreasonable. The complaint is not well-founded.

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Oct 14
2020

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2020 OIC 8

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
30(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The systemic investigation focused on how the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) carried out its duty to provide timely responses to access to information requests between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.

The RCMP contended that access to information in the Public Safety portfolio is complex and differs from other parts of the public service on the basis that it relates to sensitive investigative information and matters before the courts.

The investigation allowed the Information Commissioner to identify various issues. She shared her findings, and made 15 recommendations in six different areas. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness ignored most of the recommendations and failed to provide any explanation as to why the failings identified within RCMP operations would not be addressed. Furthermore, alternate solutions or measures that could remediate the RCMP’s ability to provide timely responses to access requests were not provided.

The Minister’s response falls short on many fronts in terms of what Canadians expect. Despite a dire situation, it would appear that the Minister has accepted the status quo.

The Information Commissioner tabled a special report to Parliament to highlight the issues raised.

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Oct 14
2020

Privy Council Office (Re), 2020 OIC 11

Institution
Privy Council Office
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Privy Council Office (PCO) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. The access request consisted of minutes of the Joint Intelligence Committee from 1957 to 1958. PCO claimed an extension of time to respond to the access request, in part to conduct consultations with other government institutions. When the consulted institutions did not respond before the deadline, PCO sent a letter informing the complainant that it would not be processing the access request because it had not received recommendations from other government institutions, and closed the file, according to its “no late file” policy.

 The Act does not authorize PCO to fail to respond to an access request on the grounds that it has yet to receive recommendations from consulted institutions. The Office of the Information Commissioner concludes that PCO was in deemed refusal pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act.

The Information Commissioner recommended that the Clerk of the Privy Council take the necessary steps to respond to the access request by October 31, 2020 and revoke or revise PCO’s current policy so that the processing of all requests are in accordance with its obligations under the Act. PCO did not respond to the Commissioner’s recommendations.

 The complaint is well founded. At the time that this report was published, PCO had still not responded to the access request.

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Sep 11
2020

Privy Council Office (Re), 2020 OIC 7

Institution
Privy Council Office
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

Privy Council Office (PCO) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. PCO is therefore deemed to have refused to give access to records requested.

As a result of a complaint submitted to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) of Canada, the Information Commissioner recommended that PCO provide a final response to the request no later than June 1, 2020. PCO did not provide a final reponse by June 1, 2020. PCO did not indicate when it would be able to respond to the request, citing outstanding consultations with other provincial and federal departments, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on operations.

The complaint is well founded.

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Aug 10
2020

Department of Justice Canada (Re), 2020 OIC 6

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

The complainant alleged that the Department of Justice Canada (Justice) missed the deadline for responding to a request under the Access to Information Act. On October 31, 2019, upon completion an investigation, the Information Commissioner sent Justice a recommendation to respond to the request by December 15, 2019. Justice did not accept the recommendation, but committed to have the records disclosed by April 27, 2020. The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) complaint file was therefore closed on the basis of this commitment disclosure date.  When Justice failed to respond to the request by April 27, 2020, the OIC received the current complaint regarding the ongoing refusal of access. Pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act, when an institution fails to give access to a record requested, or a part thereof, within the time limits set out in the Act, the head of the institution is “deemed” to have refused to give access. The complaint is well founded. The Information Commissioner ordered Justice to respond to the access request by September 30, 2020.

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