Seeking consent part of reasonable application of section 19

Complaint: Citing section 19, National Defence and the Department of Finance Canada withheld information in response to requests: the names and scores of candidates in a job competition in the former case and the personal information of people involved in meetings about possible changes to the Income Tax Act in the latter.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the institutions had not sought the consent to release the information from the individuals to whom the information related, as the Act requires in these circumstances.

Outcome: National Defence asked the eight people in the job competition for consent to release their personal information; however, they declined. The 10 people involved in the tax law meetings did consent, and additional information was disclosed to the requester.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • An institution may release information when the individual or party to whom the information relates or belongs consents to its disclosure. (See, for example, paragraph 19(2)(a) for personal information or subsection 20(5) for third-party information.)
  • Institutions must seek this consent when it is reasonable to do so, and should then disclose the information whenever the individual consents, barring exceptional circumstances.
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