Clarifying requests can lead to satisfactory responses

Complaint: The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) withheld various contracts awarded to CBC annuitants as personal information under section 19.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the complainant wanted to know how many annuitants had returned to the CBC on short-term employment or consulting contracts. Since the CBC does not register the number of contracts, it instead proposed releasing the number of individuals with contracts, the number with more than one short-term contract within each year and the number with only one short-term employment contract within each year.

Outcome: The CBC created a record containing the information and released it in its entirety.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • By asking requesters exactly what they are looking for, institutions can respond satisfactorily. In this case, the requester did not want the actual contracts but rather information about them.
  • When it is reasonable to create a record to give requesters the information they seek, institutions should do so.
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