Access to Information Orders

Decision Information

Summary:

The Corporation of the City of Cambridge (the city) received a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) for access to information pertaining to a specified property. The city claimed that certain records were excluded from the Act under section 52(2.1) (ongoing prosecution), or qualified for exemption under section 12 (solicitor-client privilege) or were non-responsive to the request. The city also claimed that a number of exemptions applied to the remaining records. In the course of mediation, a number of additional issues were raised. In this order, the adjudicator finds that the exclusion in section 52(2.1) does not apply and defers a determination on the records that the city claims are subject to section 12. He finds that certain information is not sought by the appellant, but that the city has failed to establish that the balance of the information qualifies for exemption. He orders that this information be disclosed to the appellant.

Decision Content

Logo of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada / Logo du Commissaire à l'information et à la protection de la vie privée de l'Ontario, Canada

INTERIM ORDER MO-3610-I

Appeal MA14-107-2

The Corporation of the City of Cambridge

May 24, 2018

Summary:  The Corporation of the City of Cambridge (the city) received a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act  (the Act ) for access to information pertaining to a specified property. The city claimed that certain records were excluded from the Act  under section 52(2.1)  (ongoing prosecution), or qualified for exemption under section 12  (solicitor-client privilege) or were non-responsive to the request. The city also claimed that a number of exemptions applied to the remaining records. In the course of mediation, a number of additional issues were raised. In this order, the adjudicator finds that the exclusion in section 52(2.1)  does not apply and defers a determination on the records that the city claims are subject to section 12 . He finds that certain information is not sought by the appellant, but that the city has failed to establish that the balance of the information qualifies for exemption. He orders that this information be disclosed to the appellant.

Statutes Considered:  Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56 , as amended, sections 2(1)  “definition of personal information”, 6(1)(a), 6(1)(b), 7(1), 9(1)(a), 9(1)(b), 10(1), 11(a), 11(c), 11(d), 11(e), 11(g), 12, 17, 42 and 52(2.1).

Orders considered: PO-1791 and MO-3599-I.

OVERVIEW:

[1]  The Corporation of the City of Cambridge (the city) received a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act  (the Act  or MFIPPA ) for access to information relating to a named individual. In particular, the request indicated that information was being sought pertaining to the following:

[The city] - [named individual] - or any related company involving [same named individual]

FOI - all detailed information in conjunction with the [city] and [same named individual] or any company related to [same named individual]

[The city] - Agreements

[The city] - money or financing

[The city] - By-Law changes with respect to properties owned by [same named individual] or any company relating to [same named individual]

[The city] - notes - emails - faxes - documents - conversations with respect to [same named individual] or any company related to [same named individual]

Bell Canada - contact info - Tower Communication documents between [the city] and [same named individual] or any related companies to [same named individual].

[2]  In its first decision letter, the city advised the appellant that:

The City of Cambridge does not retain owner information relating to various companies within the city.

Attached you will find all public by-laws relating to [identified property], owned by [named individual], in total you are receiving 11 pages of information.

As indicated in previous discussion with you and per my email sent to you on [specified date], indicating that this property is currently under review with contemplation of or for use in litigation; any notes, emails, faxes, documents, conversations pertaining to this matter is under solicitor-client privilege. The city has an obligation to protect solicitor-client privilege under MFIPPA, section 12 , ...

[3]  The appellant appealed the city’s decision and Appeal file MA14-107 was opened to deal with that decision. As set out in the Revised Mediator’s Report for Appeal file MA14-107, in response to the appeal, the city grouped the records it provided to this office under Appendices C, E, and F. The mediator noted in her report that some of these records appear to be duplicates of records which the city provided to this office in two other related appeals involving the appellant and the city. [1]

[4]  As set out in the Revised Mediator’s Report for Appeal file MA14-107:

In response to this appeal, the city provided this office with three packages of records labeled Appendices C, E and F. Some of these records appear to be duplicates of records which the city provided to us in the other two related appeals. During the mediation of related appeal MA14-106, the city disclosed to the appellant the records that are contained in Appendix F of that appeal. Since Appendix C of this appeal is a duplicate record of Appendix F of appeal MA14-106, the records contained in Appendix C of this appeal have already been disclosed to the appellant and are therefore,  no longer at issue.

In regards to Appendix E and F of this appeal, the city advised this office that, in addition to section 12 , it is also relying on section 10(1) and 14(1) to withhold the records contained in those Appendices. The city provided this office with a copy of a letter from the individual named in the request objecting to the disclosure of any information relating to the property in question and to himself and another individual.

[5]  As mediation did not resolve Appeal MA14-107 it was moved to the adjudication stage of the appeals process where an adjudicator conducts an inquiry under the Act . Appeal file MA14-107 was closed during adjudication as a result of a procedural issue. However, during the adjudication stage of Appeal MA14-107, the city issued a second decision relating to the appellant’s request. The within appeal (MA14-107-2) was opened to deal with the issues arising out of that second decision.

[6]  The city’s second decision letter indicated that:

The City of Cambridge does not retain owner information relating to various companies within the city. Nor would the city randomly know which companies are related to [named individual]. The city has also obtained a letter from [named individual’s] legal counsel advising that all information relating to [named individual] and his business/property is not to be released.

Attached you will find all public by-laws relating to [identified property], owned by [named individual], in total you are receiving 11 pages of information.

[7]  As set out in the second decision letter, the city relied on sections 10(1) (third party information), 11 (economic and other interests), 12 (solicitor-client privilege) and 14(1) (personal privacy) to deny access to all the responsive records in full.

[8]  The letter from legal counsel that the city referred to in its second decision letter provided as follows:

Please accept this letter as notification to the City of Cambridge not to release any information or documents pertaining to property owned by [identified company] on [specified location].

Also do not release any information on [two named individuals] ...

[9]  This appeal file (MA14-107-2) then moved to mediation.

[10]  At mediation of the within appeal, the appellant advised the mediator that she is not seeking access to information that may qualify as personal information under the Act  or to banking information such as bank account and cheque numbers. However, the appellant took the position that some information that the city asserted was personal information did not qualify as personal information because it related to an individual who was acting in a professional or official capacity. Accordingly, that information remains at issue. Also at mediation, the city claimed that if certain records are not found to be excluded from the Act  under section 52(2.1)  (ongoing prosecution), then they would qualify for exemption under section 12  (solicitor-client privilege) or in the alternative would not be responsive to the request. In addition, the city confirmed that its position was that the balance of the information at issue qualified for exemption under sections 6(1)  (draft by-law or closed meeting), 7(1) (advice or recommendations), 10(1), 11 and 14(1). Mediation did not resolve the appeal and it was moved to the adjudication stage of the appeals process where an adjudicator conducts an inquiry under the Act .

[11]  I commenced my inquiry by sending a Notice of Inquiry to the city, setting out the facts and issues in the appeal. In the Notice of Inquiry, I asked the city to list each record that it claimed to qualify for exemption as well as the exemption(s) that it claims are applicable to each record. The city provided responding representations along with an index setting out the page numbers of records at issue as well as the exemptions it claimed were applicable and associated notations describing the information it says is at issue. In the index, the city claimed that the mandatory exemptions at sections 9(1) (a) and 9(1) (b) of the Act  (relations with other governments) applied to certain information. The city asked that portions of the materials it provided be withheld due to confidentiality concerns.

[12]  Based on my review of the city’s representations, the index and the records at issue, I determined that a number of parties whose interests may be affected by disclosure should be notified of the appeal and be invited to provide representations. Accordingly, I sent Notices of Inquiry to these affected parties. Two of the affected parties, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Transport Canada, had no objection to the release of the information relating to them.

[13]  I then sent a Notice of Inquiry to the appellant along with a copy of the city’s non-confidential representations. The appellant provided responding representations, which I then sent to the city for reply. One of the positions taken by the appellant in her representations is that this appeal was settled at mediation and that, accordingly, there should be no inquiry. This is addressed below. The city provided reply representations.

[14]  On April 26, 2018, Interim Order MO-3599-I was issued to address another appeal (MA14-106-2) involving the appellant and the city. In my review of the matters at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2 and the within appeal, I note that many of the records at issue in the appeal before me were also at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2. Furthermore, identical arguments were made in both appeals.

[15]  In this interim order, I find that the exclusion in section 52(2.1) does not apply and I defer a determination on the records that the city claims are subject to section 12 . I find that certain information is not sought by the appellant, but that the city has failed to establish that the balance of the information qualifies for exemption. I order that this information be disclosed to the appellant.

RECORDS:

[16]  Remaining at issue in this appeal are various records as described in the city’s index, which include emails, correspondence, agreements, memoranda and other documents as well as records that the city claims to pertain to a litigation matter (the city describes these records as consisting of documents, emails, notes, reports and files). [2]

BURDEN OF PROOF:

[17]  Under section 42 of the Act , where an institution refuses access to a record or part of a record, the burden of proof that the record or part of the record falls within one of the specified exemptions in the Act  lies upon the institution.

ISSUES:

  1. What is the scope of the request?What records are responsive to the request?
  2. Do the records contain “personal information” as defined in section 2(1) and, if so, to whom does it relate?
  3. Do sections 6(1), 7(1), 9(1)(a) and/or 9(1)(b)apply to the information at issue?
  4. Does section 10(1) apply to the information at issue?
  5. Do sections 11(a), (c), (d), (e) and/or (g) apply to the information at issue?

DISCUSSION:

First Preliminary Issue - was the appeal settled at mediation?

[18]  As set out above, this is one of three related appeals involving the appellant and city [3] . Of the three appeals, Appeal MA14-106-2 was the subject of Interim Order MO-3599-I and MA14-108-2 is at the adjudication stage. The appellant takes the position that the access requests at issue in the appeals, including the one at issue in this appeal, were all settled by agreement at mediation.

[19]  In particular, the appellant alleges that the city agreed at mediation to give to the appellant all the records that are in the control and in possession of the Information and Privacy Commissioner office (IPC) in return for a fee of $600.00 and her “stopping” all other Freedom of Information requests and “closing” all appeal files. The appellant explains that the $600.00 fee consists of a fee of $300.00 for the records at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2 and $300.00 for the records at issue in Appeal MA14-108-2. As a result, she says, access to the records, as well as the fee for access, are no longer at issue. She submits that once she “receives all the records from the city she will confirm with the IPC each and every record in the IPC possession to confirm that the city has declared all records to [the appellant] under their statutory duty as agreed to in the mediation stage.”

[20]  In reply, the city states:

To be clear the city never agreed at any time to disclose the records in question to [the appellant], through any process including mediation; this is why we are in the appeal process through the IPC.

[21]  The city also states that the fee is “not a negotiating item” and is related to the processing of the requests.

Analysis and finding

[22]  In Interim Order MO-3599-I, I explained that I had reviewed the various notes and decision letters in the three appeal files and determined that no settlement of any of the appeals, including this one, took place at mediation. Based on my review of the materials, I was satisfied that there was no agreement to full disclosure of the withheld information upon payment of a reduced fee of $600.00 to be allocated equally between Appeals MA14-106-2 and MA14-108-2, and, as confirmed in the Mediator’s Report, access to the undisclosed information at issue in this appeal remained at issue at the close of mediation. As a result, I find that while a number of issues were resolved at mediation, access to the information at issue in this appeal was not. Again, I pause to note that, as a practical matter, had the mediation resolved the appeal the Mediator would have closed the appeal file and it would not have moved to the adjudication stage.

Second Preliminary Issue - Solicitor-Client Privileged Records (section 12) – Ongoing Prosecution (section 52(2.1))

[23]  Section 12 states as follows:

A head may refuse to disclose a record that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or that was prepared by or for counsel employed or retained by an institution for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation.

[24]  Section 12 contains two branches. Branch 1 (“subject to solicitor-client privilege”) is based on the common law. Branch 2 (“prepared by or for counsel employed or retained by an institution...”) is a statutory privilege. The institution must establish that one or the other (or both) branches apply.

[25]  Section 52(2.1) states:

This Act does not apply to a record relating to a prosecution if all proceedings in respect of the prosecution have not been completed.

[26]  The purposes of section 52(2.1) include maintaining the integrity of the criminal justice system, ensuring that the accused and the Crown’s right to a fair trial is not infringed, protecting solicitor-client privilege and litigation privilege, and controlling the dissemination and publication of records relating to an ongoing prosecution. [4]  

The representations

[27]  As the city did in Appeal MA14-106-2, throughout the course of this appeal, the city also took the position that certain records were subject to the application of the section 52(2.1) exclusion, or qualified for exemption under section 12, or were non-responsive to the request.

[28]  The city’s initial representations on the possible application of section 12 and/or 52(2.1) of the Act  consist of the following:

The request for all legal documentation is protected under solicitor-client privilege, section 12  of the Act  and section 52 . It is the city’s position that there are solicitor-client privileged records that constitute legal interaction between the city and its solicitors and as such are withheld under the provisions of solicitor-client privilege as described and supported by the Supreme Court of Canada in Canada (Privacy Commissioner) v. Blood Tribe Department of Health, 2008 SCC 44. Under this Supreme Court decision, the city is withholding any solicitor/client privileged information in the possession of our solicitors and will not be releasing it to the IPC as per the Supreme Court case mentioned above.

Under this Supreme Court decision the city is withholding any solicitor-client privileged information in the possession of our solicitors and will not be including it in the index sent to you.

[29]  With respect to section 52(2.1), although the city did not withdraw its reliance on that exclusion, the city provided no evidence of an ongoing prosecution and provided no support for the application of section 52(2.1) in its representations. With respect to section 12 , as described in the Mediator’s Report and as acknowledged by the city, the city did not provide copies of the records that it claimed were subject to solicitor-client privilege. Furthermore, the city did not provide a list or detailed description of these records.

[30]  After recounting what the appellant characterized as a settlement made in the course of mediation, as discussed above, the appellant submits that records were not confidential or solicitor-client privileged “because anyone at City Hall including all staff, officers and council have seen these records by virtue in [sic] their possession between two corporations and their activities”.

[31]  In reply, the city submits that:

[The appellant] has requested legal dealings the city has had with [named individual], which our legal Counsel has denied as it would go against their ethics and professional responsibility.

Analysis and finding

[32]  I am not satisfied that the city has provided sufficient evidence to establish the application of the section 52(2.1) exclusion and I find that it does not apply. However, without the opportunity to review the actual records that the city claims are subject to section 12 , or a more detailed description of the records, I do not have sufficient materials or evidence to make a finding with respect to the application of section 12  or a determination whether these records are responsive to the request. Accordingly, I will defer any determination on the possible application of section 12  to these records, and and/or their responsiveness, after I have sought further representations on these issues.

Issue A:  What is the scope of the request?  What records are responsive to the request?

[33]  Section 17  of the Act  imposes certain obligations on requesters and institutions when submitting and responding to requests for access to records. This section states, in part:

(1)   A person seeking access to a record shall,

(a)  make a request in writing to the institution that the person believes has custody or control of the record;

(b)  provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of the institution, upon a reasonable effort, to identify the record;

. . .

(2)  If the request does not sufficiently describe the record sought, the institution shall inform the applicant of the defect and shall offer assistance in reformulating the request so as to comply with subsection (1).

[34]  Institutions should adopt a liberal interpretation of a request, in order to best serve the purpose and spirit of the Act . Generally, ambiguity in the request should be resolved in the requester’s favour. [5]

Non-responsive information

[35]  The city provides no representations on the issue of responsiveness, except to say that if the records that they claim to be subject to solicitor-client privilege are not excluded from the Act  then they are either non-responsive or subject to section 12 . Unlike the index of records that the city provided during the adjudication of Appeal MA14-106-2, there is no notation on this issue in the index of records prepared by the city for this appeal.

[36]  I have reviewed the information at issue in this appeal and I find that because information pertaining to a specified company, and an identified individual related to the specified company, is requested in this appeal, all of the information at issue, subject to the findings below, falls within the scope of the request.

Records relating to a litigation matter

[37]  It appears that the issue of responsiveness may, in part, be related to the content of the records that the city says pertain to a litigation matter consisting of documents, e-mails, notes, reports and files which the city claimed was excluded from the scope of the Act  by operation of section 52(2.1) . I found above that section 52(2.1)  does not apply. The city claims in the alternative that those records are non-responsive or fall within section 12  of the Act . As set out above, I have deferred my determination on that issue.

Banking information

[38]  As set out above, in the course of mediation, the appellant advised the mediator that she is not seeking access to banking information such as bank account and cheque numbers. Accordingly, this information does not fall within the scope of the request. This information appears on pages 6 and 11 of Appendix E (being duplicates of pages 6 and 11 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2). I will not order that this information be disclosed to the appellant.

Personal information

[39]  In the course of mediation, the appellant advised the mediator that she is not seeking access to information that may qualify as personal information under the Act . However, the appellant took the position that some information that the city asserted was personal information did not qualify as personal information because it related to an individual who was acting in a business, professional or official capacity. This is addressed below.

Issue B:  Do the records contain “personal information” as defined in section 2(1) and, if so, to whom does it relate?

[40]  In order to determine which sections of the Act  may apply, it is necessary to decide whether the records contain “personal information” and, if so, to whom it relates. That term is defined in section 2(1) as follows:

“personal information” means recorded information about an identifiable individual, including,

(a)  information relating to the race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation or marital or family status of the individual,

(b)  information relating to the education or the medical, psychiatric, psychological, 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, telephone number, fingerprints or blood type of the individual,

(e)  the personal opinions or views of the individual except if they relate to another individual,

(f)  correspondence sent to an institution by the individual that is implicitly or explicitly of a private or confidential nature, and replies to that correspondence that would reveal the contents of the original correspondence,

(g)  the views or opinions of another individual about the individual, and

(h)  the individual’s name if it appears with other personal information relating to the individual or where the disclosure of the name would reveal other personal information about the individual;

[41]  The list of examples of personal information under section 2(1) is not exhaustive. Therefore, information that does not fall under paragraphs (a) to (h) may still qualify as personal information. [6]

[42]  Sections 2(2.1) and 2(2.2) also relate to the definition of personal information. These sections state:

(2.1) Personal information does not include the name, title, contact information or designation of an individual that identifies the individual in a business, professional or official capacity.

(2.2) For greater certainty, subsection (2.1) applies even if an individual carries out business, professional or official responsibilities from their dwelling and the contact information for the individual relates to that dwelling.

[43]  To qualify as personal information, the information must be about the individual in a personal capacity. As a general rule, information associated with an individual in a professional, official or business capacity will not be considered to be “about” the individual. [7] Even if information relates to an individual in a professional, official or business capacity, it may still qualify as personal information if the information reveals something of a personal nature about the individual. [8] To qualify as personal information, it must be reasonable to expect that an individual may be identified if the information is disclosed. [9]

[44]  As set out above, in the course of mediation, the appellant advised the mediator that she is not seeking access to information that may qualify as personal information under the Act . However, the appellant took the position that some information that the city asserted was personal information did not qualify as personal information because it related to an individual who was acting in a professional or official capacity.

[45]  The city provided no initial representations on this issue. However, its index indicates that section 14 is claimed to apply to certain pages of the records at issue. Associated notations on the index indicate that the information is “[p]ersonal information related to financial transactions”, “[s]ection 2 see definitions” and “[p]ersonal information and third-party information - consent is required to be provided before disclosure, consent has not been obtained”. None of the notified affected parties provided representations on this issue.

[46]  The appellant submits in her representations that she is not seeking access to personal information, but rather corporate records between the city and an identified company and all records of an individual acting in a corporate business capacity.

[47]  The appellant submits:

... These records are of public record submitted/disclosed from one corporation [identified company] to another corporation the municipal Corporation of the City of Cambridge or vice versa with respect to government decision making or advice made in good faith.

...

There is no personal information related to a “personal transaction” but rather the information is between two commercial enterprises making commercial transactions that are not protected by [the Act ]. The advice outlined in the documents involving recommendations by staff, committee and council for the purpose of commercial enterprise and all future decisions would amount to commercial decision making, not personal.

[48]  In reply, after setting out what it believes to be the basis and motivation for the appellant’s request, the city refers to the letter objecting to disclosure that the city received at the request stage.

Analysis and findings

[49]  Based on my review of the information remaining at issue in the records that I have not found to fall outside the scope of the request, I find that none of the pages at issue contain the personal information of the appellant that falls within the scope of the definition of personal information set out at section 2(1)  of the Act .

[50]  As I did in Interim Order MO-3599-I, I also find that, with one exception, being a telephone number on page 17 of Appendix E (which is a duplicate of page 17 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2), the information remaining at issue in the records that I have not found to fall outside the scope of the request does not constitute “personal information” under the definition in section 2(1)  because it falls within the scope of section 2(2.1)  of the Act . Section 2(2.1)  provides that the “name, title, contact information or designation of an individual that identifies the individual in a business, professional or official capacity” does not constitute personal information for the purposes of the Act . While it is possible for information provided by individuals in a professional or business context to cross the threshold from business or professional to personal information, this is not one of those situations. As the appellant does not seek access to information that qualifies as “personal information”, I will not order that the telephone number be disclosed to the appellant. This information is highlighted in green on a copy of the page that I have provided to the city along with a copy of this order.

Issue C:  Do sections 6(1), 7(1), 9(1)(a) and/or 9(1)(b) apply to the information at issue?

Sections 6(1)(a) and 6(1)(b)

[51]  Sections 6(1)(a) and (b) read:

A head may refuse to disclose a record,

(a) that contains a draft of a by-law or a draft of a private bill;

(b) that reveals the substance of deliberations of a meeting of a council, board, commission or other body or a committee of one of them if a statute authorizes holding that meeting in the absence of the public.

[52]  Section 6(1)(b) is not intended to protect records merely because they refer to matters discussed at a closed meeting. For example, it has been found not to apply to the names of individuals attending meetings, and the dates, times and locations of meetings. [10]

[53]  The first and second parts of the test for exemption under section 6(1)(b) require the institution to establish that a meeting was held by the institution and that it was properly held in camera. [11]

[54]  In determining whether there was statutory authority to hold a meeting in camera under part two of the test, was the purpose of the meeting to deal with the specific subject matter described in the statute authorizing the holding of a closed meeting? [12]  

[55]  With respect to the third requirement set out above, the wording of the provision and previous decisions of this office make it clear that in order to qualify for exemption under section 6(1) (b), there must be more than merely the authority to hold a meeting in the absence of the public. Section 6(1) (b) of the Act  specifically requires that disclosure of the record would reveal the actual substance of deliberations which took place at the institution’s in camera  meeting, not merely the subject of the deliberations. [13]

[56]  The city did not provide specific representations on the application of sections 6(1) (a) or (b). Its index indicates that section 6(1)  is claimed to apply to page 7 of Appendix E (which is a duplicate of page 7 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2). Associated notations on the index indicate, “[t]here is advice outlined in the documentation involving recommendations by staff” and the “[i]nformation also involves draft information pertaining to future decisions”. The appellant provides no representations on this issue.

Analysis and finding

[57]  In my view, and as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the application of sections 6(1) (a) or 6(1) (b). Accordingly, I find that they do not apply.

Section 7(1)

[58]  Section 7(1) states:

A head may refuse to disclose a record where the disclosure would reveal advice or recommendations of an officer or employee of an institution or a consultant retained by an institution.

[59]  The purpose of section 7 is to preserve an effective and neutral public service by ensuring that people employed or retained by institutions are able to freely and frankly advise and make recommendations within the deliberative process of government decision-making and policy-making. [14]

[60]  “Advice” and “recommendations” have distinct meanings. “Recommendations” refers to material that relates to a suggested course of action that will ultimately be accepted or rejected by the person being advised, and can be express or inferred. “Advice” has a broader meaning than “recommendations”. It includes “policy options”, which are lists of alternative courses of action to be accepted or rejected in relation to a decision that is to be made, and the public servant’s identification and consideration of alternative decisions that could be made. “Advice” includes the views or opinions of a public servant as to the range of policy options to be considered by the decision maker even if they do not include a specific recommendation on which option to take. [15]  

[61]  “Advice” involves an evaluative analysis of information. Neither of the terms “advice” or “recommendations” extends to “objective information” or factual material.

[62]  Advice or recommendations may be revealed in two ways:

  • the information itself consists of advice or recommendations
  • the information, if disclosed, would permit the drawing of accurate inferences as to the nature of the actual advice or recommendations. [16]

[63]  Again, the city provides no specific representations on the application of section 7(1)  of the Act . Its index indicates that section 7(1)  is claimed to apply to page 7 of Appendix E (which is a duplicate of page 7 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2). There is an associated notation on the index that “[t]here is advice outlined in the documentation involving recommendations by staff”. The appellant provides no representations on this issue.

Analysis and finding

[64]  In my view, and as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the application of section 7(1) . Accordingly, I find that section 7(1)  does not apply.

Section 9

[65]  Section 9 states:

(1) A head shall refuse to disclose a record if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal information the institution has received in confidence from,

(a)  the Government of Canada;

(b)  the Government of Ontario or the government of a province or territory in Canada;

(c)  the government of a foreign country or state;

(d)  an agency of a government referred to in clause (a), (b) or (c); or

(e)  an international organization of states or a body of such an organization.

(2) A head shall disclose a record to which subsection (1) applies if the government, agency or organization from which the information was received consents to the disclosure.

[66]  The purpose of this exemption is to ensure that governments under the jurisdiction of the Act  continue to obtain records which other governments might otherwise be unwilling to supply without having this protection from disclosure. [17] If disclosure of a record would permit the drawing of accurate inferences with respect to information received from another government, it may be said to “reveal” the information received. [18]

[67]  For a record to qualify for this exemption, the institution must establish that:

  1. disclosure of the record could reasonably be expected to reveal information which it received from one of the governments, agencies or organizations listed in the section; and
  2. the information was received by the institution in confidence. [19]

[68]  The focus of this exemption is to protect the interests of the supplier of information, and not the recipient. Generally, if the supplier indicates that it has no concerns about disclosure or vice versa, this can be a significant consideration in determining whether the information was received in confidence. [20]

[69]  The city provided no specific representations on the application of sections 9(1)  or 9(2)  of the Act . Its index indicates that sections 9(1) (a) and (b) apply to pages 12 to 19 of the records in Appendix E (being a duplicate of pages 12 to 19 of the records in Appendix G at issue in MA14-106-2). There are notations on the index that the associated page “[c]ontains instructions and information from MTO and Transport Canada”, “[c]ontains instructions and information from Industry Canada” and “[c]ontains instructions and information from MTO”. The appellant provides no specific representations on this issue except to submit that, “Ministry of Transportation records are of public record when dealing with commercial enterprises”.

[70]  In the course of adjudication, I sought representations from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Transport Canada, Nav Canada and Industry Canada on the possible application of sections 9(1) (a) and 9(1) (b). Only Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the successor to Industry Canada, and Transport Canada responded. They had no objection to the release of information pertaining to them.

[71]  In my view, and as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to support the application of sections 9(1) (a) or 9(1) (b). Accordingly, I find that those sections do not apply.

Issue D:  Does section 10(1) apply to the records?

[72]  Sections 10(1)(a), (b) and (c) read:

A head shall refuse to disclose a record that reveals a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence implicitly or explicitly, if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to,

(a)  prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization;

(b)  result in similar information no longer being supplied to the institution where it is in the public interest that similar information continue to be so supplied;

(c)  result in undue loss or gain to any person, group, committee or financial institution or agency; ...

[73]  Section 10(1) is designed to protect the confidential “informational assets” of businesses or other organizations that provide information to government institutions. [21]   Although one of the central purposes of the Act  is to shed light on the operations of government, section 10(1)  serves to limit disclosure of confidential information of third parties that could be exploited by a competitor in the marketplace. [22]

[74]  For section 10(1) to apply, the institution and/or the third party must satisfy each part of the following three-part test:

  1. the record must reveal information that is a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial or financial information;and
  2. the information must have been supplied to the institution in confidence, either implicitly or explicitly;and
  3. the prospect of disclosure of the record must give rise to a reasonable expectation that one of the harms specified in paragraph (a), (b) and/or (c) of section 10(1) will occur.

[75]  The city submits in its reply representations that it is “very cautious to not disclose information that would divulge any business dealings with the city, as we feel this would be taken in bad faith”. Its index indicates that section 10(1)(a), (b) and/or (c) is claimed to apply to pages 2 to 4, 6 to 10, 12 to 22 and 29 to 85 of the records in Appendix E (being duplicates of pages 2 to 4, 6 to 10, 12 to 22 and 29 to 85 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2). Notations on the index indicate that the associated page “[c]ontains third party information regarding potential negotiation - disclosure could result in undue loss”, “[c]ontains third party information regarding potential negotiation - disclosure could result in undue loss (economic development)”, “[p]ersonal information and Third Party information - consent is required to be provided before disclosure, consent has not been obtained”, “[t]hird Party - prejudice to competitive position”, “[t]hird party section 10” and “[t]hird Party information deals with distribution of money and pricing practices and costs”. The notation on the index relating to the application of section 10(1) to page 4 states that the page contains information that “[w]as obtained and gathered for the purpose of collecting a tax”. As set out above, at the request stage the city received a letter objecting to disclosure. None of the affected parties notified during the course of adjudication provided any responding representations.

[76]  The appellant submits that:

All potential negotiations should be done in good faith by the city and in effect no undue loss should never be found unless the city acted in bad faith. Ministry of Transportation records are of public record when dealing with commercial enterprises.

[77]  In this appeal, it is not necessary for me to consider the first and second part of the section 10(1) three-part test as there is no evidence of harm. The party resisting disclosure must provide detailed and convincing evidence about the potential for harm. It must demonstrate a risk of harm that is well beyond the merely possible or speculative although it need not prove that disclosure will in fact result in such harm. How much and what kind of evidence is needed will depend on the type of issue and seriousness of the consequences. [23] The failure of a party resisting disclosure to provide detailed and convincing evidence will not necessarily defeat the claim for exemption where harm can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances. However, parties should not assume that the harms under section 10(1) are self-evident or can be proven simply by repeating the description of harms in the Act . [24]

[78]  In Interim Order MO-3599-I, I found that in the absence of any substantive representations, I was left without any evidence on the issue of reasonable expectation of harm from disclosure with respect to the information at issue. I make the same finding here. I have also reviewed the information that the city claims is subject to section 10(1) that remains at issue and find nothing in it that would allow me to infer a reasonable expectation of harm from disclosure. As a result, I am unable to conclude that the harms described in section 10(1) could reasonably be expected to result from disclosure of the information. As all parts of the three-part test for exemption under section 10(1) must be satisfied, I find that this exemption does not apply.

Issue E:  Do sections 11(a), (c), (d), (e) and/or (g) apply to the records?

[79]  Sections 11 (a), (c), (d), (e) and (g) of the Act  state:

A head may refuse to disclose a record that contains,

(a)  trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to an institution and has monetary value or potential monetary value;

(c)  information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests of an institution or the competitive position of an institution;

(d)  information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the financial interests of an institution;

(e)  positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of an institution;

(g)  information including the proposed plans, policies or projects of an institution if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in premature disclosure of a pending policy decision or undue financial benefit or loss to a person;

[80]  The purpose of section 11  is to protect certain economic interests of institutions. Generally, it is intended to exempt commercially valuable information of institutions to the same extent that similar information of non-governmental organizations is protected under the Act . [25]  

[81]  The city submits in its reply representations that it is “very cautious to not disclose information that would divulge any business dealings with the city, as we feel this would be taken in bad faith”. Its index indicates that sections 11 (a), (c), (d), (e) and/or (g) are claimed to apply to pages 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9, 12 to 22 and 29 to 85 of the records in Appendix E (being duplicates of pages 2 to 4, 6, 8, 9, 12 to 22 and 29 to 85 of Appendix G at issue in Appeal MA14-106-2). The associated notations on the index relating to the section 11  exemption claims states that the page contains “[t]hird party financial interests section 11 , “[d]eals with distribution of money and pricing practices and costs”, “[c]ontains instruction and negotiations on boundaries”, “[c]ontains instructions and information from MTO and Transport Canada”, “[c]ontains instructions and information from Industry Canada”, “[c]ontains instructions and information from MTO” and “[c]ontains information pertaining to plans, financial interest secrets and potential monetary values”.

Section 11 (a):  information that belongs to government

[82]  For section 11(a) to apply, the institution must show that the information:

  1. is a trade secret, or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information;
  2. belongs to an institution; and
  3. has monetary value or potential monetary value.

[83]  For information to “belong to” an institution, the institution must have some proprietary interest in it either in a traditional intellectual property sense – such as copyright, trade mark, patent or industrial design – or in the sense that the law would recognize a substantial interest in protecting the information from misappropriation by another party. Examples of information belonging to an institution are trade secrets, business-to-business mailing lists, [26] customer or supplier lists, price lists, or other types of confidential business information. In each of these examples, there is an inherent monetary value in the information to the organization resulting from the expenditure of money or the application of skill and effort to develop the information. If, in addition, the information is consistently treated in a confidential manner, and it derives its value to the organization from not being generally known, the confidential business information will be protected from misappropriation by others. [27]

[84]  To have “monetary value”, the information itself must have an intrinsic value. The purpose of this section is to permit an institution to refuse to disclose a record where disclosure would deprive the institution of the monetary value of the information. [28] The mere fact that the institution incurred a cost to create the record does not mean it has monetary value for the purposes of this section. [29]   Nor does the fact, on its own, that the information has been kept confidential. [30]

[85]  It is not necessary to address the first part of the test, as the city provided no evidence as to how the information “belongs to” the city or what it asserts is the monetary value of the information. The notations provided by the city on its index are not sufficient. I have reviewed the records at issue and I find them of no assistance in determining whether section 11(a) applies.

[86]  In my view, as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish either the second or third parts of the section 11(a) test. As all three parts of the test must be established, I find that section 11(a) does not apply.

Sections 11(c), (d) and (g)

[87]  For sections 11(c), (d) or (g) to apply, the institution must provide detailed and convincing evidence about the potential for harm. It must demonstrate a risk of harm that is well beyond the merely possible or speculative although it need not prove that disclosure will in fact result in such harm. How much and what kind of evidence is needed will depend on the type of issue and seriousness of the consequences. [31] The failure to provide detailed and convincing evidence will not necessarily defeat the institution’s claim for exemption where harm can be inferred from the surrounding circumstances. However, parties should not assume that the harms under section 11 are self-evident or can be proven simply by repeating the description of harms in the Act . [32]

[88]  The city has not provided any evidence to support its allegations of harm. The notations provided by the city on its index are not sufficient. Accordingly, I have a lack of evidence on the issues raised by sections 11(c), (d) and (g), from the party which is in the best position to offer it. I have reviewed the records at issue that the city claims to be subject to sections 11(c), (d) and (g) and I find them of no assistance in this regard. In the circumstances, as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, I find that the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish the application of sections 11(c), (d) and/or (g). Accordingly, I find that sections 11(a), (d) and/or (g) do not apply.

Section 11(e)

[89]  In order for section 11(e) to apply, the institution must show that:

  1. the record contains positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions,
  2. the positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions are intended to be applied to negotiations,
  3. the negotiations are being carried on currently, or will be carried on in the future, and
  4. the negotiations are being conducted by or on behalf of an institution. [33]

[90]  The terms “positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions” suggest a pre-determined course of action. In order for this exemption to apply, there must be some evidence of an organized structure or definition to the course of action. [34] This office has adopted the dictionary definition of “plan” as a “formulated and especially detailed method by which a thing is to be done; a design or scheme”. [35] The section does not apply if the information at issue does not relate to a strategy or approach to the negotiations but rather simply reflects mandatory steps to follow. [36]

[91]  The city provided no evidence to support the application of this section. For example, there is no evidence to support the existence of an organized structure or definition to any alleged course of action. The notations provided by the city on its index are not sufficient. I have reviewed the records at issue that the city claims to be subject to section 11(e) and as I found in Interim Order MO-3599-I, I find them of no assistance in this regard. In the circumstances, I find that the city has failed to provide sufficient evidence to establish the application of section 11(e).

Conclusion

[92]  I have concluded that none of the exemptions claimed by the city apply to the remaining responsive information at issue in the appeal that the city does not claim to be subject to section 12 . Accordingly, I will order that the remaining responsive information that falls within the scope of the appeal be disclosed to the appellant.

[93]  As noted, with respect to the records for which the city claims are subject to section 12 , in the absence of having an opportunity to review the actual records that the city claims are subject to section 12  of the Act , or being provided a more detailed description of the records, I do not have sufficient materials or evidence to make a finding with respect to the application of section 12 . Accordingly, I will defer the determination of the possible application of section 12  after I have sought further representations on the issue.

ORDER:

  1. Except for the information the city claims is subject to section 12 , pages 6 and 11 of Appendix E, and the information that I have highlighted in green on a copy of page 17 of Appendix E of the records provided to the city along with a copy of this order, I order the city to disclose the balance of the information at issue in this appeal to the appellant, by sending it to her by June 29, 2018, but not before June 25, 2018.
  2. In order to ensure compliance with paragraph 1, I reserve the right to require the city to send me a copy of the pages of records as disclosed to the appellant.

Original Signed by:

 

May 24, 2018 

Steven Faughnan

 

 

Adjudicator

 

 

 



[1] Being Appeals MA14-106-2 (which is the subject of Interim Order MO-3599-I) and MA14-108-2.

[2] The city had grouped the records it provide to this office under an Appendix E and the city’s index follows that grouping. The city did not provide the records that it claimed to pertain to litigation matter.

[3] The within appeal and Appeals MA14-106-2 (the subject of Interim Order MO-3599-I) and MA14-108-2.

[4] Ministry of the Attorney General and Toronto Star and Information and Privacy Commissioner, 2010 ONSC 991, March 26, 2010, Tor. Doc. 34/91 (Div. Ct.).

[5] Orders P-134 and P-880.

[6] Order 11.

[7] Orders P-257, P-427, P-1412, P-1621, R-980015, MO-1550-F and PO-2225.

[8] Orders P-1409, R-980015, PO-2225 and MO-2344.

[9] Order PO-1880, upheld on judicial review in Ontario (Attorney General) v. Pascoe, [2002] O.J. No. 4300 (C.A.).

[10] Order MO-1344.

[11] Order M-102.

[12] St. Catharines (City) v. IPCO, 2011 ONSC 2346 (Div. Ct.).

[13] Orders MO-1344, MO-2389 and MO-2499-I.

[14] John Doe v. Ontario (Finance), 2014 SCC 36, at para. 43.

[15] See above at paras. 26 and 47.

[16] Order P-1054.

[17] Order M-912.

[18] Order P-1552.

[19] Orders MO-1581, MO-1896 and MO-2314.

[20] Orders M-844 and MO-2032-F.

[21] Boeing Co. v. Ontario (Ministry of Economic Development and Trade), [2005] O.J. No. 2851 (Div. Ct.)], leave to appeal dismissed, Doc. M32858 (C.A.) (Boeing Co.).

[22] Orders MO-1706, PO-1805, PO-2018 and PO-2184.

[23] Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2014 SCC 31 (CanLII) at paras. 52-4.

[24] Order PO-2435.

[25] Public Government for Private People: The Report of the Commission on Freedom of Information and Individual Privacy 1980, vol. 2 (the Williams Commission Report) Toronto:  Queen’s Printer, 1980.

[26] Order P-636.

[27] Order PO-1736, upheld on judicial review in Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), [2001] O.J. No. 2552 (Div. Ct.); see also Orders PO-1805, PO-2226 and PO-2632.

[28] Orders M-654 and PO-2226.

[29] Orders P-1281 and PO-2166.

[30] Order PO-2724.

[31] Ontario (Community Safety and Correctional Services) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), 2014 SCC 31 (CanLII) at paras. 52-4.

[32] Order MO-2363.

[33] Order PO-2064.

[34] Orders PO-2034 and PO-2598.

[35] Orders P-348 and PO-2536.

[36] Order PO-2034.

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