Section 26 requires publication before 90-day deadline

Complaint: The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) withheld in its entirety a study, Assessing the Outcomes for Habitat for Humanity, Home Buyers in Canada, under paragraph 21(1)(b).

Investigation: The OIC determined that the report did not comprise accounts of deliberations or consultations, as paragraph 21(1)(b) requires, and asked CMHC to review the records again. Instead of doing so, CMHC said it would withhold the information under section 26, since the study was soon to be published.

Outcome: During the investigation, CMHC published the report on its website and provided the link to the requester.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Under section 26, institutions may refuse to disclose records when they are likely to be published within 90 days after the request is made.
  • Even when they intend to publish a record, institutions must demonstrate that it was reasonable to believe publication would occur within 90 days after receiving the request.
  • In this case, the proposed publication date was more than 90 days after CMHC had received the request. Consequently, the Information Commissioner found that that CMHC could not invoke section 26 to withhold the study.
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