Confidential information must be treated consistently as such
Complaint: Citing paragraph 20(1)(b), Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) exempted from a list the locations of storage tanks on Indigenous land in Alberta that contain petroleum products and allied petroleum products.
Investigation: AANDC maintained that the tank locations met the criteria of paragraph 20(1)(b), including the confidentiality requirements. However, the OIC learned that the Storage Tank Systems for Petroleum Products and Allied Petroleum Products Regulations stipulate that “the owner or operator must display the identification number in a readily visible location on or near the storage tank system for which the number was issued.” This requirement is echoed on the Environment Canada website.
Outcome: Since the locations of the tanks could be discerned through observation of the visible identification numbers, the location could not be characterized as “confidential.” AANDC agreed to disclose the information in response to a formal recommendation from the Information Commissioner.
Information Commissioner’s position
- In order for paragraph 20(1)(b) to apply, institutions must demonstrate that all the criteria set out in the provision are met.
- In this instance, AANDC could not show that the storage tank identification numbers, and therefore the locations of the tanks, were confidential and had been consistently treated as such.