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

Nov 1
2021

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2021 OIC 30

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access to information request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. In its application, the institution submitted that the request was both vexatious and an abuse of the right of access.

The Information Commissioner found that the institution established that the request is an abuse of the right of access. Given the Commissioner’s conclusion, it was not necessary to consider as well whether the request was also vexatious.

The application is approved.

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Oct 27
2021

Public Services and Procurement Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 29

Institution
Public Services and Procurement Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) did not conduct a reasonable search for a recording of a specific meeting, which took place over Microsoft Teams, as well as all communications regarding that meeting, in response to an access request under the Access to Information Act.

The investigation revealed that although Microsoft Teams has the capacity to record meetings, this function was not used to record the meeting in question. In addition, PSPC officials indicated that the meeting was informal and did not involve activities and decisions of business value for which there was any obligation to create a record.

Based on the evidence and representations received, the OIC is satisfied that PSPC took reasonable steps to identify and locate responsive records. However, no responsive records were identified.

The complaint is not well founded.

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Oct 25
2021

Veterans Affairs Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 28

Institution
Veterans Affairs Canada
Section of the Act
19
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) improperly withheld under section 19(1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act the names and service numbers of individuals who had been awarded the Arctic Star.

VAC conceded that some of the information it had withheld, including the names of some recipients who had been deceased for more than 20 years, did not meet the requirements of subsection 19(1) and disclosed the information to the complainant during the course of the investigation.

However, VAC maintained that some names and service numbers had been properly withheld.

The Information Commissioner consulted the Privacy Commissioner who agreed that the names and service numbers can be released as they fall under the exception to the definition of “personal information” in paragraph 3(j) of the Privacy Act.

VAC agreed to implement the Information Commissioner’s recommendation to disclose the full names and service numbers of the recipients of the Arctic Star which had not yet been disclosed.

The complaint is well founded.

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Oct 21
2021

Library and Archives Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 27

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

The complainant alleged that the 29,200-day time extension claimed by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) to process a request made under the Access to Information Act is unreasonable.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) received the complaint on May 2, 2018.

LAC identified 780,000 pages of paper and microfilm records responsive to the request for Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) records on Project Anecdote.

LAC did not meet the requirements of a time extension under paragraph 9(1)(a); therefore, its time extension was invalid. In the absence of a valid time extension, institutions are required to respond to an access request within 30 days, which LAC also failed to do. Therefore, LAC is deemed to have refused access to the requested records pursuant to subsection 10(3).

The complaint is well founded.

Related litigation proceeding before the Federal Court: Michael Dagg v. Minister of Canadian Heritage, T-1854-21. The steps taken in this proceeding are available using the following link: https://www.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/court-files-and-decisions/court-files 

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Sep 15
2021

Global Affairs Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 26

Institution
Global Affairs Canada
Section of the Act
9(1)
Decision Type
Order
Final report
Summary

On February 24, 2021, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) received nine separate complaints about Global Affairs Canada (Global Affairs) missing the deadlines or taking an unreasonable time extension to respond to nine access requests made by the same individual under the Access to Information Act.

In four of the nine files, Global Affairs indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on their ability to process the requests.

Global Affairs has committed to providing a final response for each of the nine files by October 15, 2021, due to the significant amount of work that remains to be done.

All nine complaints are well founded.

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Sep 8
2021

Environment and Climate Change Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 25

Institution
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Section of the Act
19
20
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) had improperly withheld information under subsection 19(1) (personal information), paragraph 20(1)(b) (confidential third-party financial, commercial, scientific or technical information), paragraph 20(1)(c) (financial impact on a third party), paragraph 21(1)(a) (advice or recommendations) and paragraph 21(1)(b) (accounts of consultations or deliberations) of the Access to Information Act in response to an access request for records related to a Request for Proposals (RFP).

The investigation revealed that ECCC did not exercise its discretion under subsection 19(2) to disclose publicly available personal information and seek consent from the individuals to disclose their personal information, where appropriate.

Where ECCC had withheld the evaluators’ comments on bid evaluation grids under both paragraphs 21(1)(a) and 21(1)(b), ECCC showed that the requirements for paragraph 21(1)(a) were met, and that discretion was appropriately considered, taking into account the specialized nature of the field, and the small number of competitors.

ECCC and the third party were able to show that the requirements for paragraphs 20(1)(b) and 20(1)(c) were met for specific sensitive content of the Response to the RFP, disclosure of which could indeed harm the third party’s competitive position in the market.

At the same time, the parties could not show that certain withheld financial and commercial information met all of the requirements of paragraphs 20(1)(b) and 20(1)(c), as absolute confidentiality is unreasonable when public funds are being spent, and some of the withheld information was publicly available.

ECCC gave notice to the Commissioner that it would follow her recommendations.

The complaint is well founded.

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Aug 4
2021

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2021 OIC 24

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on four requests for information under section 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. The head of the institution was of the opinion that it had met its duty to assist the requester in connection with the requests, and that the requests are an abuse of the right of access because the requester does not have a right of access to the information.

The Commissioner found that the institution not only did not fulfil its duty to assist obligations under subsection 4(2.1) of the Act, but it further failed to establish that the requests amount to an abuse of the right of access.

The Commissioner denied the application.

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Aug 4
2021

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2021 OIC 23

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on two requests for information under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act (the Act). In its application, the institution submitted that the requests are vexatious, made in bad faith and are otherwise an abuse of the right of access. It also maintained that it met its duty to assist the requester in connection with the requests.

The Commissioner found that the institution did not establish that the requests are vexatious, made in bad faith or are otherwise an abuse of the right to make a request. The Commissioner also found that the institution did not establish that it fulfilled its duty to assist obligations under subsection 4(2.1) prior to seeking approval to decline to act on the requests.

The application is denied and the institution is required to act on the access requests.

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Aug 3
2021

Employment and Social Development Canada (Re), 2021 OIC 22

Institution
Employment and Social Development Canada
Section of the Act
30(1)(a)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The complainant alleged that Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) was incorrect in stating that it could not process an access request under the Access to Information Act. The access request was for records related to a named employee including dates of leave, job grade, letters of offer and salary history. Because the records in question would be the personal information of a named individual who is not the complainant, ESDC did not process the records and claimed that they were outside its control. While the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) agrees that the access request is for the personal information about a named individual who is not the complainant, the investigation concluded that the records at issue are under ESDC’s control. As a result, ESDC ultimately agreed to process the access request. The complaint is well founded.

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Jul 30
2021

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2021 OIC 21

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
6.1 decision
Summary

An institution submitted an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on a request for information under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. The head of the institution was of the opinion that the request - for emails and other records of communication of any employee, during a specified timeframe, that contain a specific phrase - constitutes an abuse of the right of access.

The Commissioner found that the institution not only did not fulfil its duty to assist obligations under subsection 4(2.1) of the Act, but it further failed to establish that the request is an abuse of the right of access. In addition, it was not apparent that the application for approval to decline to act was submitted in a timely manner.

The Commissioner denied the application.

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