Decisions

The Information Commissioner publishes the final reports on her investigations on this Web site when she deems them to be of value in providing guidance to both institutions and complainants.

The Office of the Information Commissioner has established the Decisions Database to enable users to search final reports and other decisions, which outline the reasons and principles behind the Commissioner’s decisions and filter them using a number of criteria.

This database is updated regularly and will continue to grow as more final reports and decisions are added.

Other Corporate publications are available on the website.

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Decision Type

89 decisions found

Jan 28
2022

Library and Archives Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 03

Institution
Library and Archives Canada
Section of the Act
13(1)
15(1)
19(1)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) had improperly withheld information under subsection 13(1) (confidential information from government bodies), subsection 15(1) (national security) and paragraph 19(1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for a 1989 RCMP Security Service briefing on Hugh George Hambleton.

In reviewing LAC’s application of subsection 15(1), the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) found that a significant amount of information pertaining to Hugh George Hambleton is within the public domain. For instance, it is a matter of public record that: Hambleton, during his employment at NATO, provided classified documents to Soviet intelligence agents. Hambleton’s spying was uncovered in the 1970s, and drew comment from the media and members of Parliament, who debated the case in the House of Commons. Hambleton served time in prison in the UK and then subsequently in Canada.

The Information Commissioner found that LAC did not fulfil its burden of demonstrating that the information at issue, which it refuses to disclose, meets the requirements of the exemption.

The complaint is well founded.

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Jan 27
2022

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2022 OIC 02

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
16(1)(c)
16(2)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had improperly withheld information under paragraph 16(1)(c) (law enforcement) and subsection 16(2) (facilitating the commission of an offence) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for information on a specific RCMP vehicle from 9:40 to 10:10 on February 19, 2017, as well as records of payments for the RCMP from the City of Williams Lake.

The RCMP applied paragraph 16(1)(c) concurrently with subsection 16(2) on the GPS coordinates of RCMP vehicle WL6100 from 9:40 to 10:10 on February 19, 2017. The coordinates were recorded in 5-second intervals.

In its representations, the RCMP indicated that the release of the GPS coordinates could facilitate illegal activities, reduce perpetrators’ chances of being caught, and make law enforcement more difficult.

Having carefully considered the RCMP’s representations and having reviewed the specific responsive record, the Information Commissioner was unable to conclude that the information meets the requirements of paragraph 16(1)(c) and subsection 16(2). The Commissioner was not satisfied that the criteria needed to withhold information under paragraph 16(1)(c) has been met.

The complaint is well founded.

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Jan 17
2022

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 01

Institution
Immigration and Refugee Board
Section of the Act
16(1)(a)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) improperly withheld information under paragraph 16(2)(c) (facilitating the commission of an offence) of the Act to portions of records in response to access requests for 64 separate immigration applications.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) investigated 64 separate complaints on the same type of information and exempted in the same manner by IRCC.

The information that IRCC wanted to protect is located in the “History” field of IRCC’s GCMS Information Request: Application. The name of the field and its content were entirely redacted.

IRCC was initially of the view that releasing the History field and its content would negatively affect the integrity of all its immigration programs. To justify the use of paragraph 16(2)(c), IRCC provided detailed representations explaining the risks it alleged would result from disclosing the information at issue.

After many months of investigation and numerous attempts from IRCC to justify the application of paragraph 16(2)(c), the institution ultimately agreed to release the information at issue in its entirety.

The complaints are well founded.

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Jan 6
2022

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 37

Institution
Fisheries and Oceans
Section of the Act
18(c)
20(1)(b)
20(1)(c)
20(6)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) had improperly withheld information under paragraph 20(1)(b) (Confidential third-party financial, commercial, scientific or technical information), paragraph 20(1)(c) (Financial impact on third party) and paragraph 18(c) (Government scientific or technical information obtained from research) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for information related to piscine reovirus, heart and skeletal muscle inflammation, the Creative Salmon Company Ltd., or jaundice syndrome.

DFO could not show that it met all the requirements of these exemptions. Concerning paragraph 18(c), DFO failed to show that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to threaten the exclusive rights of government researchers to publish the results of their research first.

Concerning paragraph 20(1)(b), neither DFO nor the third party established that the information was confidential information supplied by the third party. The parties also did not establish that disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to result in substantial financial loss or gain to the third party or be injurious to its competitive position, as per paragraph 20(1)(c).

The Information Commissioner recommended that DFO disclose the information at issue in full, with the exception of personal information withheld under subsection 19(1).

DFO gave notice to the Commissioner that it would be implementing the recommendations.

The complaint is well founded.

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Dec 8
2021

Environment and Climate Change Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 36

Institution
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) did not conduct a reasonable search for records in response to an access request made under the Access to Information Act for all reports or assessments, including drafts, conducted by the Northgate Group in possession of any staff of the Enforcement Branch within ECCC.

The investigation confirmed that ECCC made edits directly to a draft report provided by the contractor, Northgate Group, thereby overwriting a contract deliverable and record that should have been saved to a corporate repository.

During the investigation, it was confirmed that the original draft report provided by the Northgate Group no longer exists as neither ECCC nor the Northgate Group retained a copy.

The direct consequence of saving edits over the original draft report irreversibly undermined the right of access.

The complaint is well founded.

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Nov 22
2021

Natural Resources Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 35

Institution
Natural Resources Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) did not conduct a reasonable search in response to an access request under the Access to Information Act for driving data, including Global Positioning System (GPS) data and driver logbook entries from NRCan’s fleet vehicles for three separate time periods.

The Office of the Information Commissioner’s (OIC) investigation determined that in addition to the search conducted by the Office of Primary Interest for records in NRCan’s corporate repositories, it was also NRCan’s responsibility to retrieve information from a data storage company, where the GPS data for the dates requested was stored.

NRCan conceded that the information stored with the data storage company, despite it not being in NRCan’s physical possession, was under its control for the purposes of the Access to Information Act. As a result, NRCan retrieved the GPS records for the time periods in question. NRCan also located additional logbook records responsive to the request, subsequent to an additional search. The logbook records as well as the GPS data were provided to the complainant during the course of the investigation.

The complaint is well founded.

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Nov 22
2021

Library and Archives Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 34

Institution
Library and Archives Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) did not conduct a reasonable search in response to a request for an Index containing information about all the military personnel who served in World War II.

The investigation determined that LAC did not have the index sought by the complainant. LAC explained that World War II personnel records contained not only information on personnel who served in World War II, but also those who served in Korea and other military deployments until 1971. These records are paper-based, and were neither digitized nor used to create an electronic database from which a complete list of World War II personnel could be obtained.

While LAC’s access to information responses to specific queries may have given the false impression to the requester that an index of World War II personnel exists, LAC does not in fact possess a complete index of the number of Canadians who served in World War II.

The complaint is not well founded.

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Nov 16
2021

Department of Justice Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 33

Institution
Justice Canada
Section of the Act
10
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Department of Justice Canada (Justice) did not conduct a reasonable search under the Access to Information Act when responding to an access request for records produced by the Senior General Counsel about the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference at the University of British Columbia. The request also sought specific records on the legal aspects of the security measures and all details of the trade agreement, as well as any records connected to the Hughes Inquiry regarding APEC between 1995 and 1999. Justice’s response was that they could not locate any responsive records to the request.

During the investigation, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) determined that Justice did not task the National Litigation Sector (NLS). In February 2020, Justice confirmed that the NLS would be the most appropriate Office of Primary Interest (OPI) for the records regarding the APEC conference held by the Chief General Counsel. Six months later, in August 2020, Justice tasked the NLS’ British Columbia Regional Office and retrieved 41,843 pages of records and videos. Justice’s Access to Information and Privacy Office (ATIP) confirmed that, as of July 2, 2021, it has received and imported a total of 40,780 pages into its processing system.

In light of the above, I conclude that Justice did not conduct a reasonable search for records in response to the access request.

The complaint is well founded.

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Nov 15
2021

Library and Archives Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 32

Institution
Library and Archives Canada
Section of the Act
9(1)
10(3)
Decision Type
Order
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Library and Archives Canada (LAC) did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act.

On February 1, 2019, LAC received an access request for records regarding the LGBTQ community in the military.

LAC claimed a 565-day extension of time under paragraphs 9(1)(a) and 9(1)(b) to complete the processing of the request.

However, on September 18, 2020, LAC missed the extended due date, and on October 14, 2020, the OIC received the current complaint questioning the delay taken to process the request.

Given that LAC did not respond to the request by the extended deadline, it is deemed to have refused access pursuant to subsection 10(3). This refusal of access is ongoing and will continue until such time that LAC fully responds to the access request.

The Commissioner ordered the Librarian and Archivist of Canada to complete the processing of the access request and provide a response forthwith.

The complaint is well founded.

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Nov 10
2021

National Defence (Re), 2021 OIC 31

Institution
National Defence
Section of the Act
6
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that the Department of National Defence (DND) refused to process a request under the Access to Information Act for all records of misconduct by an identified individual.

DND refused to process the request claiming that the request for information about an individual other than the requester does not meet the requirements of section 6 of the Access to Information Act.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) viewed DND’s representations as falling well short of establishing that the request fails to provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee to identify records responsive to the request.

DND conceded that the request meets the requirements of section 6, and agreed to process the request as worded.

The complaint is well founded.

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