Decisions

The Information Commissioner publishes the final reports on her investigations on this website 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 continues to grow as more final reports, decisions and orders are added. The dates indicated refer to the date on which the decision was rendered.

Institutions are legally obliged to abide by an order from the Commissioner unless they apply to the Federal Court for a review of the matter that is the subject of the order. The Access to Information Act does not provide any other alternative to complying with the order. 

To learn more about the Information Commissioner’s orders, please visit our Frequently asked questions.

Other Corporate publications are available on the website.

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Decision Type

606 decisions found

May 25
2020

National Defence (Re), 2020 OIC 4

Institution
National Defence
Section of the Act
10(3)
6
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

Despite numerous attempts to clarify a request for information, the National Defence (DND) ultimately did not respond to the request, being of the view that it did not meet the requirements of section 6 of the Access to Information Act (Act).  The Office of the Information Commissioner received a complaint that DND had not responded to the request within the time limits set out in the Act.

The complaint is not well-founded.

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May 15
2020

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2020 OIC 19

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
Declining to act on a request
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 Act). The head of the institution was of the opinion that it had met its duty to assist the requester in connection with this request, and that the request is an abuse of the right of access.

The Commissioner found that the application was premature. The institution took issue with the clarity of the access request, in addition to other arguments, yet failed to seek clarification of the access request from the requester. The Commissioner also elaborated upon several important elements to an application: compelling evidence regarding the request at issue and the general overarching obligations of both parties to clarify the request under ss. 4(2.1) – responsibility of government institutions, and 6 – request for access to record.

The Commissioner denied the application.

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Apr 7
2020

Decision under section 31, 2022 OIC 11

Institution
-
Section of the Act
31
Decision Type
Timeframe for submitting a complaint
Summary

The Information Commissioner rejected a complaint as it did not meet the requirements of section 31 of the Access to Information Act.

Section 31 specifies, among other things, that: “If the complaint relates to a request by a person for access to a record, it shall be made within sixty days after the day on which the person receives a notice of a refusal under section 7, is given access to all or part of the record or, in any other case, becomes aware that grounds for the complaint exist.”

The institution provided the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) with documentation indicating that the complaint was made more than seven (7) weeks after the expiration of the sixty-day time-period set out in section 31. This documentation was forwarded to the complainant, along with a request that they provide representations in support of the validity of their complaint.

In their representations, the complainant pointed out that the covering letter that they had received from the institution in response to their request was undated, while the covering letter provided by the Institution to the OIC was actually dated. The complainant did not, however, contest the institution’s claim that a response to their request was provided on the date in question, nor did they take the position that their complaint was made within sixty days of their receipt of the institution’s response. Instead, they asked that the Information Commissioner exercise her “residual discretion” to extend the time period within which they could complain about the Institution’s response, explaining that they had intended to initiate their complaint within sixty days, but that the Institution’s response to their request was “misplaced” after it was received.

Having considered the complainant’s representations, as well as the documentary evidence that was provided to the OIC, the Information Commissioner concluded that the complaint did not meet the requirements of section 31. The Information Commissioner does not have the authority to receive and accept complaints submitted after the expiration of a statutory timeframe. In Statham v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 2010 FCA 315, the Federal Court of Appeal made clear that no provision within the Act confers power on the Information Commissioner to extend the time frames set out in the Act (paragraph 46).

Accordingly, the Information Commissioner could not accept the complaint as it was submitted outside the legislative timeframe set out in section 31.

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Apr 3
2020

Canadian Human Rights Commission (Re), 2020 OIC 3

Institution
Canadian Human Rights Commission
Section of the Act
19
23
Decision Type
Recommendation
Final report
Summary

The Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) refused to disclose information citing subsection 19(1) – Personal information, section 22 – Testing/auditing procedures, and section 23 – Solicitor-client privilege of the Access to Information Act .

During the course of the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)’s investigation, the CHRC agreed to disclose all information previously withheld under section 22 of the Act and portions that were previously withheld under solicitor-client privilege. While the CHRC refused to disclose the remainder of the withheld information, it did not convince the OIC  that such information met all the requirements for severance under subsection 19(1) and section 23 of the Act.

The OIC therefore issued a report recommending that the CHRC disclose portions of the information previously withheld as personal information and portions of the information previously withheld under solicitor-client privilege. The CHRC agreed with the recommendations and released additional information.

The complaint is well-founded.

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Mar 12
2020

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2020 OIC 18

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
Declining to act on a request
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 it had met its duty to assist and that the access request is an abuse of the right of access. The requester took the position that the institution should process the access request and indicated a willingness to work with the institution to find a solution.

The Commissioner found that the application was premature. The institution did not satisfy her that, in keeping with its duty to assist, it was unable to find reasonable ways to continue working with the requester in order to process the access request. As a result, the Commissioner did not make a finding on whether the access request is an abuse of the right of access at this time.

The Commissioner denied the application. The institution is required to act on the access request.

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Feb 18
2020

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2020 OIC 2

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Order
Final report
Summary

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had not responded to a request for information under the Access to Information Act more than two years after receiving it and is deemed to have refused to give access. During the investigation, the RCMP provided very little information about the records or the processing of the access request, to help determine a response date. Without these details and because the RCMP had still not responded to the access request, the Commissioner orders the RCMP to respond to the access request within 10 business days from the day the order takes effect.* The complaint is well-founded.

* The RCMP responded to the request on March 2, 2020, before the coming into effect of the order.

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Feb 5
2020

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2020 OIC 17

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
Declining to act on a request
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act (the Act). The institution alleged that the access request is both vexatious and an abuse of the right to make a request.

The institution explained that the requester was displeased with how the institution handled his affairs and that in the 17 years since, has submitted a total of 893 requests, many of which are closely related.

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Jan 14
2020

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Re), 2020 OIC 1

Institution
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Section of the Act
10(3)
Decision Type
Final report
Summary

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is deemed to have refused to give access to records requested under the Access to Information Act (Act). The RCMP was asked, and failed to provide adequate representations. Since the breach of the Act was ongoing, an initial report with intended order was issued. Following the receipt of the initial report, the RCMP responded to the access request rendering any prospective order pointless. The complaint is well-founded.

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Nov 29
2019

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2019 OIC 3

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
Declining to act on a request
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act.

The institution explained that, in response to a request not made under the Act (the “informal request”), it had already disclosed to the same requester some of the information sought in an access request (the “formal request”).

The institution sought the Commissioner’s approval to exclude the informally released records from the scope of the formal access request.

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Aug 29
2019

Decision pursuant to 6.1, 2019 OIC 2

Institution
-
Section of the Act
6.1
Decision Type
Declining to act on a request
Summary

An institution made an application to the Information Commissioner for approval to decline to act on an access request under subsection 6.1(1) of the Access to Information Act. The institution alleged that the access request is vexatious, is an abuse of the right to make a request and is in bad faith.

The institution explained that the requester is a former employee who was dismissed. Since this time, the requester has pursued other proceedings in relation to the termination. The requester has also submitted over a dozen requests under the Act and Privacy Act over a one-year period.

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