151 decisions found
The Information Commissioner ceased an investigation, pursuant to paragraph 30(4)(b) of the Access to Information Act.
Paragraph 30(4)(b) allows the Commissioner to refuse or cease to investigate a complaint when initiating or continuing the investigation is unnecessary, including when the matter has already been the subject of an investigation or final report.
In this instance, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) has already investigated and issued a final report on an identical matter—that is, allegations that the institution did not conduct a reasonable search for records created in the 1990’s.
The OIC informed the complainant that it was considering ceasing the investigation on the basis that it had already investigated an identical matter and offered an opportunity to the complainant to provide representations. The complainant did not respond.
No evidence suggesting that this matter is different has been provided to the OIC.
In light of the above, continuing this investigation was unnecessary.
The complainant alleged that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) did not respond to their access request for a list of all COVID-19-related contracts between January 1, 2020, and April 4, 2020, within the time limit set out in section 7 of the Access to Information Act. PSPC indicated that part of the reason for its delay in responding to the request was that it had been placed on hold due to measures taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. The Information Commissioner has already indicated that, under the Act,an institution cannot suspend the processing of these access requests because of the pandemic. The Office of the Information Commissioner concludes that PSPC failed to respond to the request within the time limit set out in section 7 of the Act and is therefore deemed to have refused to give access to the requested records under subsection 10(3). PSPC responded to the request on April 1, 2021. The complaint is well founded.
In 2019-2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received 116,928 access requests, a 42-percent increase from the previous year. Almost all of these requests (98.9 percent) were for immigration application files.
Also in 2019-2020, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) registered 4,298 complaints against IRCC, 97 percent of which involved allegations that IRCC had failed to respond to access requests for immigration application files within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. In the two years prior to 2019-2020, the OIC had registered only 226 and 558 complaints against IRCC, respectively.
To better understand and make recommendations to address the root cause of the dramatic increase in access requests and complaints, the Information Commissioner initiated a systemic investigation into IRCC’s processing of requests for immigration application files from April 1, 2017, to February 26, 2020.
The complainant alleged that the Privy Council Office (PCO) had improperly withheld names of the employees within the Prime Minister’s Office under subsection 19(1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for records related to the Minister of Revenue’s announcement regarding audits of registered charities for political activities. The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) concluded that the withheld information was personal information, therefore meeting the requirements of the exemption. The OIC was also satisfied that the circumstances set out in subsection 19(2) did not exist. The complaint is not well founded.
The complainant alleged that the Department of Justice Canada (Justice) improperly withheld information under section 23 (legal advice and litigation privilege) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for legal fees related to a specific litigation file. Justice claimed solicitor-client privilege to disbursements and details of expenses included in a cost-recovery report. While the Information Commissioner agreed that disbursements are subject to a presumption of privilege, her investigation determined that the presumption was rebutted as there was no reasonable possibility that an assiduous inquirer could use the information at issue to deduce or otherwise acquire communications protected by the privilege. The Commissioner therefore recommended that Justice disclose all information initially withheld pursuant to section 23 of the Act. Justice gave notice that the recommendation would be implemented. The complaint is well founded.
The complainant alleged that Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) took an unreasonable extension of time under paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Access to Information Act to respond to an access request for information related to the Competition Bureau’s bread price-fixing investigation. ISED considered the expected complexity of the records, factored in the program area’s needs for gathering and processing the responsive records, and assessed the Access to Information and Privacy Office’s time needs to analyze and apply exemptions to a response that would include at least 75 million pages of records. The complaint is not well founded. The OIC invites ISED to consider disclosing any completed packages of records to the complainant, as they are completed.
The complainant alleged that Public Safety Canada (Public Safety) refused to process an access request for every record under its control and all associated metadata related to a series of keywords. Public Safety explained that portions of the request did not meet with certain requirements of the Access to Information Act and that processing any parts of the request would involve an expansive volume of records and all of its operations. The complaint is well founded yet the Commissioner agreed with Public Safety’s position that parts of the request did not satisfy the requirements of section 6. The Commissioner considered the effort required by an experienced employee to identify specific records as unreasonable and agreed that identifying portions of the records would take significant time and resources. Public Safety failed to meet its legislated obligations under the Act as it did not claim an extension of time and did not have the authority to refuse to process the request. The Deputy Minister of Public Safety Canada gave the Commissioner notice that he would process parts of the request and committed to processing 5,000 pages per year of the approximate 645 000 pages identified as relevant to the request.
The complainant alleged that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) improperly withheld information under subsection 19(1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act about a follow-up investigation related to a Code of Conduct decision taken against the complainant.
The RCMP conceded that some of the withheld information did not constitute personal information and issued a supplementary release in January 2021 while maintaining the application of subsection 19(1) on the remaining information. As a result, the complaint is well founded. The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) concluded that the remaining withheld information was personal information that concerned another individual, therefore meeting the requirements of the exemption. The OIC was also satisfied that the circumstances set out in subsection 19(2) did not exist. Consequently, there was no need to determine whether the RCMP had exercised its discretion to decide whether to release the remaining information.
The complainant alleged that the time extension taken under paragraph 9(1)(b) (consultations) by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to respond to a request under the Access to Information Act was unreasonable. CSIS showed that consultations with two other government institutions were necessary and could not reasonably be completed within 30 days. CSIS determined that an extension of 240 days would be required, considering the high classification level and sensitivity of the records, the need for on-site review of the records, and limited access to the workplace. The OIC determined that CSIS made a serious effort to determine the length of the extension based on the realities of the pandemic situation. The OIC concluded that the time extension was reasonable given the circumstances and that CSIS met the three requirements to claim the time extension. The complaint is not well founded.
The complainant alleged that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) improperly withheld information under paragraph 16(1)(a) (investigative bodies) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request. The Office of the Information Commissioner’s (OIC) investigation determined that the information withheld was obtained by an investigative body specified in the regulations (the RCMP) in the course of a lawful investigation pertaining to detection, prevention or suppression of crime. The information also came into existence less than twenty years prior to the request. The OIC is also satisfied that the RCMP reasonably exercised their discretion by taking into consideration relevant factors for and against disclosure.
The complaint is not well founded.
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