Some time ago, I sent off an Access to Information request to the CHRC for the contents of a particular personnel record.
I received a response a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. The long and short of it is that the CHRC is denying me access to the file because they claim the information that I am seeking would 1) threaten the individual’s safety and 2) represent a request for something of a personal nature which is not permitted to be disclosed.
Here is the letter:
Now, the first basis of refusal, S.17 dealing with the safety of the individual, is groundless and I am reasonably confident that if I went to a judge, he’d dismiss it. I am not seeking any personal information regarding address, age, etc.
The second basis for refusal, Section 19, has to do with personal information. You’ll note above that it refers to Section 3 of the Privacy Act to define “personal information”. While it is true that it specifically notes the “employment history of the individual” as personal information, it goes on to say for the purposes of Section 19, this exemption does not include “employment information that relates to the position or functions of the individual”.
Below is the relevant text of Section 3 of the Privacy Act.
I will be talking to my lawyer today if it’s worth pursuing.
Section 3, Privacy Act
“personal information” means information about an identifiable individual that is recorded in any form including, without restricting the generality of the foregoing,
(a) information relating to the race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age or marital status of the individual,
(b) information relating to the education or the medical, criminal or employment history of the individual or information relating to financial transactions in which the individual has been involved,
(c) any identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual,
(d) the address, fingerprints or blood type of the individual,
(e) the personal opinions or views of the individual except where they are about another individual or about a proposal for a grant, an award or a prize to be made to another individual by a government institution or a part of a government institution specified in the regulations,
(f) correspondence sent to a government institution by the individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to such correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence,
(g) the views or opinions of another individual about the individual,
(h) the views or opinions of another individual about a proposal for a grant, an award or a prize to be made to the individual by an institution or a part of an institution referred to in paragraph (e), but excluding the name of the other individual where it appears with the views or opinions of the other individual, and
(i) the name of the individual where it appears with other personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name itself would reveal information about the individual,
but, for the purposes of sections 7, 8 and 26 and section 19 of the Access to Information Act, does not include
(j) information about an individual who is or was an officer or employee of a government institution that relates to the position or functions of the individual including,
(i) the fact that the individual is or was an officer or employee of the government institution,
(ii) the title, business address and telephone number of the individual,
(iii) the classification, salary range and responsibilities of the position held by the individual,
(iv) the name of the individual on a document prepared by the individual in the course of employment, and
(v) the personal opinions or views of the individual given in the course of employment,