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

110 decisions found

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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Jul 22
2020

Access at issue: Nine recommendations regarding the processing of access requests at National Defence

Institution
National Defence
Section of the Act
30(1)(f)
Decision Type
Systemic investigation
Summary

The investigation focused on the six offices of primary interest (OPIs) most frequently tasked with responding to access to information requests for the Department of National Defence (DND) between January 1, 2017 and December 21, 2018.

Over the course of several months, OIC officials interviewed the six OPIs and DND's Directorate of Access to Information and Privacy (DAIP) to better understand how DND responds to access to information requests. DND shared various internal tasking documents, manuals, processes and procedural guides, training materials, statistics and dashboard information regarding DND Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) compliance.

Based on this information, the Commissioner identified issues and shared her findings with the Minister of National Defence, who agreed that significant improvements were needed to ensure that the institution was fully meeting its obligations under the Act. In order to remedy existing shortcomings, DND proposed several improvements which were then either accepted or built upon by the Commissioner. In January 2020, the Commissioner issued her recommendations to the Minister of National Defence who agreed to take corrective actions.

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Jun 25
2020

Department of Justice Canada (Re), 2020 OIC 5

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

The complaint contested the decision by the Department of Justice Canada (Justice) to withhold the entire content of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the provision of legal services under section 23 (Legal advice and litigation privilege) of the Access to Information Act. Justice could not show that section 23 applied to the entirety of the record at issue – in particular, that the general identifying information such as the title of the MOU and the signature blocks are protected by the solicitor-client privilege. It was also determined that Justice had waived its solicitor-client privilege over some information in the MOU and therefore that particular information was not protected anymore. The complaint is well founded. The Information Commissioner recommended that Justice release part of the record and Justice has communicated its intention to implement this recommendation.

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May 25
2020

National Defence (Re), 2020 OIC 4

Institution
National Defence
Section of the Act
10(3)
6
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

Despite numerous attempts to clarify a request for information, the National Defence (DND) ultimately did not respond to the request, being of the view that it did not meet the requirements of section 6 of the Access to Information Act (Act).  The Office of the Information Commissioner received a complaint that DND had not responded to the request within the time limits set out in the Act.

The complaint is not well-founded.

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May 15
2020

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2020 OIC 19

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 7
2020

Decision under section 31, 2022 OIC 11

Institution
-
Section of the Act
31
Decision Type
Section 31
Summary

The Information Commissioner rejected a complaint as it did not meet the requirements of section 31 of the Access to Information Act.

Section 31 specifies, among other things, that: “If the complaint relates to a request by a person for access to a record, it shall be made within sixty days after the day on which the person receives a notice of a refusal under section 7, is given access to all or part of the record or, in any other case, becomes aware that grounds for the complaint exist.”

The institution provided the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) with documentation indicating that the complaint was made more than seven (7) weeks after the expiration of the sixty-day time-period set out in section 31. This documentation was forwarded to the complainant, along with a request that they provide representations in support of the validity of their complaint.

In their representations, the complainant pointed out that the covering letter that they had received from the institution in response to their request was undated, while the covering letter provided by the Institution to the OIC was actually dated. The complainant did not, however, contest the institution’s claim that a response to their request was provided on the date in question, nor did they take the position that their complaint was made within sixty days of their receipt of the institution’s response. Instead, they asked that the Information Commissioner exercise her “residual discretion” to extend the time period within which they could complain about the Institution’s response, explaining that they had intended to initiate their complaint within sixty days, but that the Institution’s response to their request was “misplaced” after it was received.

Having considered the complainant’s representations, as well as the documentary evidence that was provided to the OIC, the Information Commissioner concluded that the complaint did not meet the requirements of section 31. The Information Commissioner does not have the authority to receive and accept complaints submitted after the expiration of a statutory timeframe. In Statham v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2010 FCA 315, the Federal Court of Appeal made clear that no provision within the Act confers power on the Information Commissioner to extend the time frames set out in the Act (paragraph 46).

Accordingly, the Information Commissioner could not accept the complaint as it was submitted outside the legislative timeframe set out in section 31.

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Apr 3
2020

Canadian Human Rights Commission (Re), 2020 OIC 3

Institution
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Section of the Act
19
23
Decision Type
Recommendation
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

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2020 OIC 18

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

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2020 OIC 2

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Order
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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