Institutions must follow required third-party consultation process

Complaint: Industry Canada missed the extended deadline for responding to a request for documents about arrangements Bell Canada and Telus Corporation had made to build and/or share wireless networks.

Investigation: The investigation focused on Industry Canada’s practices associated with consultations, and its overall lack of a timely response. The OIC asked for and received a work plan setting out how and when Industry Canada would respond to the request, but the institution did not meet any of its deadlines.

Outcome: Industry Canada responded to the request nearly two years after the extended deadline. In addition, the institution agreed to take action in response to the Information Commissioner’s recommendations on how to improve its process.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Institutions must initiate and complete extensions as quickly as possible. In this case, Industry Canada did not begin its consultations until after the 210-day extension it had taken for that purpose had expired.
  • Institutions must carry out consultations consecutively, not concurrently. Industry Canada waited to complete one consultation before embarking on the next.
  • Institutions should make it clear that, in the absence of timely responses to consultation requests, they will decide whether to disclose records.
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