Wednesday 12 December 1990

Private bill


Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987




Chair: Duignan, Noel (Halton North NDP)

Vice-Chair: MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton NDP)

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot NDP)

Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East NDP)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North L)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East L)

Murdock, Sharon (Sudbury NDP)

O'Neil, Hugh P. (Quinte L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)

Villeneuve, Noble (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry PC)

Substitutions: Drainville, Dennis (Victoria-Haliburton NDP) for Mrs MacKinnon

Clerk: Arnott, Douglas

Staff: McNaught, Andrew, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

The committee met at 1532 in room 151.


The Chair: I would like to welcome everybody back to the committee. My name is Noel Duignan; I am the Chairman of this particular committee. I would like to welcome Frank White and Terry Campbell from the freedom of information and privacy branch of the Management Board of Cabinet.

Mrs Marland: Are we first going to dispense with the matter I referred to the clerk at the last meeting before we get into this part of the agenda today? Just so we can get rid of that matter, which is the matter of the court case and the bill that was in the name of the People of Ontario. We have now learned from research, in response to my question, that all private bills have to stand in the name of a member, and until there is a member who is willing to put his name on that bill, which sues the province for $750 million, we can dispense with that.

The Chair: We will be dealing with that issue under

item I of the agenda. That is from the report of the subcommittee to the committee.

Mrs Marland: It was not part of the subcommittee report, was it? It was an answer to my motion when I placed a motion asking for more information.

The Chair: You are correct.

Mrs Marland: I think we can just get rid of it right at the outset and then we can get into the freedom of information matter that is part of the agenda.

The Chair: If the committee agrees, we can move that up to item I of the agenda. Is it the wish of the committee to dispense with this item first?

Agreed to.

Mrs Marland: I have six packages here. I cannot find the agenda, but I would move that the matter of the --

The Chair: That is the application by Pierre Levesque.

Mrs Marland: It is not on the agenda.

The Chair: It would come up under "other business."

Mrs Marland: Since it was the answer to a resolution at the previous meeting, I think it should have been identified on the agenda so we can deal with it formally. I am looking for the names to refer to it properly.

I move that the matter of the question I raised at the last meeting dealing with the referral of a private bill application -- the private bill stands in the name of the People of Ontario but it is a matter of an application of Pierre Levesque. Is he the person representing the person who wants to sue?

Mr Villeneuve: He is.

Mrs Marland: He is the person who wants to sue.

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs Marland moves that the matter of the application of Pierre Levesque's private bill standing in the name of the People of Ontario be deferred by this committee until such time as it meets the requirement of the presentation of private bills in our House, namely, that it has to stand in the sponsorship of a name of one of the elected members of the Legislature.

Motion agreed to.


The Chair: The next item of business is the report of the subcommittee on committee business, dated 6 September. Has everybody got a copy of that report? The second item is regarding the schedule of the freedom of information comprehensive review. It is the recommendation of the subcommittee that we meet in the week of 4 February 1991 and the week of 25 February 1991, if required. We have not set any particular dates and times for that committee to meet right now. We felt it could be left up to this committee to decide what days we would meet during that week and what times we would meet. What is the wish of the committee with regard to the dates and times you would like to meet during the week of 4 February?

Mr H. O'Neil: Do we have to put this to the House leaders? In other words, we did receive their okay for those two weeks.

The Chair: We have put in the request to the House leaders for those two particular weeks.

Mr H. O'Neil: But we have not heard back from them yet whether that is approved.

The Chair: No, because we suggested that it still had to be approved by the committee here.

Ms S. Murdock: Any times we would select would have to be approved by the House leaders anyway in terms of conflict with other committees. Is that not correct?

The Chair: I understand that is correct, but we can set the week and times here today.

Mr Owens: What is past practice for the number of days and hours at a time that this committee has? Can we use that as a guiding factor?

Clerk of the Committee: The days and hours vary from committee to committee, but during a recess most committees I have served with will meet Monday afternoon to allow members from out of town to travel in, and then full days on Tuesday to Thursday, sometimes Tuesday to Friday or Friday morning only. Full days would mean meeting from 10 to 12 or 12:30, from 2 to 4, 4:30 or 5, depending on the number of witnesses to be heard.


Mr McClelland: Mr Chairman, I suppose in concert with the subcommittee, have you a sense of how much time will be required? You are looking at potentially two weeks, which could involve eight full days. Do we have eight full days in terms of deputations and matters for consideration? It seems to me, by way of proceeding, you might want to start with the full week of 4 February and tentatively hold that and schedule accordingly and, looking at the week of 25 February, remove from the latter part of the week dates that would not be required to accommodate the deputations and matters for consideration. That would at least give us some sense of what direction we are headed and enable us to plan accordingly.

The Chair: I agree. At this point we would be just looking at setting days and times for the week of 4 February, and the week of 25 February would be only if we required it. I was wondering if the clerk has any indication at this time of how many deputations will be appearing.

Clerk of the Committee: I do not. I do know there is continuing interest, as people call the office each day. I understand the branch of Management Board has also had quite a number of indications of interest. I do not have numbers at this point.

Mr Owens: I am just wondering if we could combine two items, because I think the issue that was discussed at the subcommittee meeting on the type of matters that we are going to handle is really germane to the discussion of how we set up our time, if that is agreeable with the Chair.

The Chair: It is agreeable with the Chair.

Mr McClelland: I do not know what items you are talking about. It seems to me that the way to proceed with this is that we have a certain time allotment and we book deputations accordingly. In the past the clerk has ably discharged the responsibility of finding time slots and providing us with a very full agenda. It seems to me from what you have indicated, Mr Arnott, that we very well may use that entire time. I think we operate on the premise that we will be using that time, book it accordingly, leave it with the clerk to work in concert with the Chairman and set aside the time on a schedule. We can decide if we want to start Tuesday in the afternoon and do full days Wednesday and Thursday for both weeks. It seems to me to be a reasonable approach. Then we know what we are dealing with, we can schedule other events, other commitments we might have and move on with the business at hand.

Ms S. Murdock: I do not know how the other members of the committee feel, but I am hoping that Friday will not even be a consideration for sittings.

Mr Villeneuve: It is a travel day.

Ms S. Murdock: It is not a travel day for me; it is a constituency day.

Mr McClelland: Half-day Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Mr Villeneuve: For those of you from rural ridings, those two weeks happen to be a Rural Ontario Municipal Association get-together here in Toronto and the last week is an Ontario Good Roads Association meeting where municipal representatives come to Toronto. I have found that those weeks are quite busy with the members accompanying delegations of rural municipalities to different ministries. I have no problem with those two weeks, but I would very much like to see, as Mr McClelland suggested, maybe starting on Tuesday afternoon.

The Chair: There is a sense that we would begin on Tuesday afternoon, go all day Wednesday and Thursday the first week.

Mr Owens: Monday afternoon.

Ms S. Murdock: That is fine, Monday afternoon.

The Chair: Monday afternoon or Tuesday afternoon?


Mr Villeneuve: It depends on the activity. I know, as we discussed in the steering committee, we are just kind of getting the feel of where the problems will be and the gist of what people will be reacting to under the freedom of information act as it applies to the other levels of government. We will be coming with a preliminary report, basically to identify where problems either exist or are perceived to exist.

Mrs Marland: I agree with the comments that have been made about what days we sit. I am also wondering whether the subcommittee discussed what we would be doing in terms of going to see what other levels of government do.

The Chair: I think it was the sense of the subcommittee that we need to focus on what the problems are in relation to the legislation. I think this is the whole purpose of this first week, this kind of phase 1, find out what the problems were, focus in on that and then come back later and hold further public hearings on those particular issues. I think that was the sense of the subcommittee.

Mrs Marland: I am looking at the 1989-90 budget. I wondered if our budget gave us a provision to go and do some research on some other levels of government.

Mr Villeneuve: We are going to try for it.

Mrs Marland: Was that discussed by the subcommittee?

The Chair: No, it was not.

Mrs Marland: Obviously we have to look at how our Ontario statute is working, but how are we going to make any recommendations for changes or improvements or amendments without learning from some other source what other levels of government are doing in other locations?

The Chair: There is some preliminary information in the package you received in relation to what other jurisdictions are doing and I think the research branch has also pointed out some areas that need to be addressed already. I think that information was supplied in the kit that you received, so we do have a starting point.

Mrs Marland: Yes, but I think what I am getting at is that we have to make some plans, What have we done about the budget? That has not been approved yet, has it?

The Chair: No. It is on your desk right now for approval at either this particular meeting or the meeting next week.

Mrs Marland: It was handed out today, was it?

The Chair: Yes.

Mrs Marland: Oh, okay. This budget obviously does not have any travelling for the committee in it; is that correct?

The Chair: That is correct, yes.

Mrs Marland: This means that this committee could not travel before the House sits again to approve the new budget after we rise next week; is that right?

Clerk of the Committee: I am sorry, I do not understand the question.

Mrs Marland: If the committee finds it necessary to travel when the House is not sitting, does the Board of Internal Economy approve our budget? If we submit a budget in February to travel in March or before the House reconvenes, does the board just approve the budget?

Clerk of the Committee: I do not know the schedule of board meetings then. I know the board is trying to meet more frequently. The committee does require the board's permission, budgetary approval, before it can travel outside --

Mr Drainville: If you need the information to indicate when we are meeting, I am a member of the Board of Internal Economy. We are planning one more meeting this session and then we are hopefully going to be meeting in the middle of January once and perhaps again in February once. That is the plan at this time, although that could change. Dependent upon the needs that are expressed in terms of the Legislature, we could meet more often.


Mrs Marland: Just to finish what I was going to say, why it is important that we get a firm decision on what our committee wants to do is that, as I think I said at the last meeting, our dates have to go into the hopper with everybody else's dates, and the House leaders have to agree that they can physically provide enough members to cover all the committees for all of those meeting dates in terms of the bodies being available. It is not a problem when you have 74 bodies, as the government party has, but in our caucus of 20 members, and it may be the same in the Liberal caucus of 36 members, there are a number of us who sit on more than one committee by necessity to cover the committees, so I think we have to consider very carefully what the work is that we have to do and set enough days. Also, if part of our work requires us to be relocated, as a committee, outside of Toronto, which is very common for this committee, then we have to get a budget approved as well.

Mr H. O'Neil: Again, I think Mrs Marland makes a good point. If we are considering going to some other jurisdiction to look at some of these things, I think we should include it with this budget here and we should put it in so that we do not have to go back for a supplementary amount or decision

The Chair: This is only a recommendation to the committee. It can be changed and your suggestion can be taken into account. We can make provision for travelling outside of Metro in this budget. We can have a look at that later on the agenda under other business.

Is it the consensus of the committee that we will meet on Monday afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the week of the 4th, from 10 to 12 and 2 to 4?

Mr H. O'Neil: It is usually 4:30.

The Chair: Is that the consensus of the committee?

Mr Villeneuve: I have no problem with that, but if the demand is not there, I would appreciate it if you could chop it at the beginning of the week.

The Chair: If it is found when we meet on Monday afternoon or Tuesday that the demand is not there to sit on Thursday, then we will not sit on Thursday, or Wednesday.

Mr Villeneuve: I like it the other way around.

Mrs Marland: To remove Monday, I think.

The Chair: Okay. I will take your suggestion. Are there any further questions relating to the meetings of the committee in February?

Mrs Marland: Is it 4 February we are talking about?

The Chair: Yes, at this point; and the week of the 25th only if it is required.

The third item on the report of the business subcommittee is that the subcommittee recommends that, in compliance with its terms of reference, the committee invite the director of the broadcast and recording service to appear before the committee on Wednesday 19 December to review the television broadcasting system of the Legislature. Is that agreeable with the committee? Agreed.

The Chair: The other item of business that was discussed by the subcommittee was: "Your subcommittee recommends that in compliance with its terms of reference, standing order 104(i), the committee schedule meetings to consider the provision of services and facilities to members during the spring session. Your subcommittee further recommends that the committee send to all members of the Legislature a questionnaire to determine what matters should be scheduled for review."

Are there any questions or answers?

Mr H. O'Neil: I just wonder whether, with so many members being new, it might be a good suggestion, rather than just sending out a general letter like that, to maybe mention in that letter some of the things we might cover and then ask if there are any additional matters that they would like to have a look at. I make that only as a suggestion.

Mrs Marland: I think that is a good idea to give the parameters of our jurisdiction. I do want to ask, and perhaps my colleague the member for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, Mr Villeneuve, has the answer since I think he is the only person sitting on the committee who sat on it last year --

The Chair: I do not know.

Mrs Marland: Oh. Gilles, maybe you remember. One of the important matters that I know this committee spent some time on last year was the security of members in this building. I came in and made a presentation to that committee because of some concerns I have. Nothing has been done about those concerns and I am wondering whether the clerk can tell us if there were recommendations of this committee addressing the item of security of members.

If there were recommendations made to the former government by the committee and they have not been acted on, then I think this committee should review those recommendations once and for all. We do not want to keep talking about the same stuff over and over again. If this committee did do that and did come forward with some recommendations, I think it is important that we see some action, especially in this day and age, to do with the security and safety of members.

The Chair: Were recommendations made to the previous government?

Clerk of the Committee: I am not sure. I would have to research that and get back to you.

Mr Morin: I was on the Legislative Assembly committee in 1986 and at that time I was a member of a subcommittee to look into the security aspect of the building. Elie Martel was on that committee, and Norm Sterling. There was another person also. We travelled to Quebec City. We looked at the setup at the Legislature in Quebec City. I believe there was a report that was submitted. Perhaps Claude DesRosiers, the Clerk, would be in a position to help you on that.

Mr McClelland: Might I add that it also became a consideration subsequently in 1988-89. Another report was done. We had visits from individuals responsible for security in both Quebec City at the National Assembly and also in Ottawa, so there are reports that have been commissioned or surveys that have been done. I think it would be a good idea to have at least a summary of those so that we know what has been done and where we are going with it, if anywhere at all.

Mrs Marland: Probably you went to the legislative assembly in Quebec because of the dreadful tragedy, the awful happenings in that legislative assembly. It would be just as easy for it to happen here. We are coming into very, very stressful times for people and that is when people under stress act differently than they would do otherwise. I do not think we have to go somewhere to review that subject ac aim but I certainly think we have got to find out what the recommendations were and decide that we want them implemented.

The Chair: We will ask the Clerk to root out those reports and see if there were any recommendations and bring them back for the committee meeting next Wednesday.

Mrs Marland: Good. Thank you.

Mr McClelland: Just in terms of where we are going here, are we moving with the agenda or are we throwing out other ideas for consideration?

The Chair: We are hopefully going by the agenda. If you have some other ideas, you can them bring up under other business.

Mrs Marland: What we have been dealing with up to now is the subcommittee report.

The Chair: That is correct. We have dealt with items 3 and 4.

Mrs Marland: Right.



The Chair: We will move on to the second item on the main agenda, which is the beginning of the comprehensive review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987. Again, welcome Frank White, director of the privacy branch, and Terry Campbell, who I think is the policy adviser of the Management Board of Cabinet. I understand your presentation will last about 40 minutes, then we will open it up to questions.

Mr White: I think what we could do also is that if you like to ask questions as we are going through, that may be a better way of handling it since questions are fresh in your mind at that point.

I would like to thank the committee for an opportunity to discuss the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the start of a three-year review. It is one of the few provincial statutes that actually requires, in the statute, a review of the piece of legislation after a period of time to see how it is operating.

The legislation is administered by the Chairman of Management Board, Frances Lankin. I am director of the freedom of information and privacy branch at the Management Board. Our function is to support the minister in her administrative responsibilities in terms of the legislation. We also provide advice to the ministries and agencies that are covered by the act in terms of interpretation, procedures and process. That is generally our function.

Section 68 of the act is this section that requires a three-year review. What it requires is that your committee undertake a comprehensive review of the act three years after proclamation. You have a year to hear representations and study the act. After that period of time, you will be making a report to the Legislature on proposed amendments to the act.

This is not uncommon with this type of legislation. Both the federal government and the Quebec government have already completed reviews of their legislation. The federal government completed its in late 1987 and the Quebec government completed its in late 1989. So it is something that is common with this type of legislation.

I have a copy of the material we will be going through today so that you can follow me if you would like to.

This piece of legislation was effective on 1 January 1988, so we are just finishing the three-year period. The coverage is quite extensive. It covers all the ministries of the Ontario government and then it covers some 250 agencies. I can give you a few examples of the types of agencies under schedule 1 or group 1. There are the regulatory and advisory agencies of the government. Those are agencies like the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Residential Tenancy Commission, the Social Assistance Review Board, the Public Service Grievance Board and the Pay Equity Commission. All of that group of agencies is covered.

There is a second group called crown corporations, which are generally the commercial agencies of the Ontario government. There are approximately 16 agencies and they include Ontario Hydro, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, the Ontario centres for technology and the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission as examples of these types of agencies.

There is third set -- let's call it group 3 -- which are the cultural and educational agencies. It covers about half of those agencies. The half would include the 23 colleges of applied arts and technology, district health councils and the Royal Ontario Museum. It does not include a few agencies that are health-related, like the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry as an example. So it is fairly extensive coverage.

Originally the legislation, when it was passed, was going to apply to municipal corporations and local boards on I January 1990, but after it passed there was some consultation with those municipalities and local boards and I guess it was seen that they are quite different in an administrative sense from the way the provincial government functions, yet we had a group of principles here that certainly could pertain both to the provincial and the municipal levels. In fact, what happened was that separate legislation was introduced in 1989 that incorporated the principles we will be dealing with today while it recognized what would be some administrative differences in the way municipal corporations and local boards operate. That was passed in December 1989. It is effective on 1 January 1991.

On the bottom half of that side you will see that there are approximately 2,500 other organizations, including municipal corporations and local boards that will be covered by what is a separate piece of legislation. That is the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. That also calls for a three-year review, which would be, I guess, in 1994, three years after that act is in operation.

The act that you will be reviewing in terms of a statutory requirement would be the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. That does not and will not apply to municipalities and municipal corporations, although they have similar legislation which will be in effect four weeks from now.

On the second side are the principles common actually to both acts. I would like to point these out. We do a lot of workshops across the province for those provincial agencies and we have done a lot for municipalities and local boards over the past year. I guess you talk a lot about exemptions, but really the focus is this right of the public to information that is held by governmental institutions. The whole idea is that with these pieces of legislation there should be more information going out than in the past.

That is the first general principle. The public has the right of access to information that has been obtained by these governmental organizations covered by this legislation.

The second area is that exemptions from that right should be very specific and very limited. In other jurisdictions, for instance the United States, you will have an exemption that deals with all law enforcement matters; just law enforcement is exempt. In the Ontario legislation, whether you agree or disagree with the law enforcement exemption, you will see there are particulars in that exemption that try to detail what it is in terms of law enforcement that is exempt, for instance, a law enforcement matter that would hinder the security of the facility as an example.

A third principle is that decisions by institutions to refuse access should have an independent review procedure or process. An Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has been established to hear complaints under the legislation. I will talk about that in a few minutes.

Last, individuals have a right to the protection of their personal information. I guess you realize that provincial ministries and a number of agencies certainly collect and maintain an enormous amount of personal information about individuals in the province. If you think about the services that are provided by the Ministry of Community and Social Services, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Correctional Services and the Ministry of the Solicitor General, you will realize that the government does have quite an extensive amount of information. There are rules of the road in this legislation on how the government ministries use, collect and can disclose that personal information. So there are some rules of the road now.

Of course, then there is access by an individual to information about himself or herself that the government maintains. A lot of it will come down, I think, to what you will hear in representations, what would probably be called balancing. We have a lot of interests that are involved in this type of legislation. You have, of course, the freedom of information component and you have the privacy component.

Sometimes, is it your right to privacy that is the priority or is it the public's right to know something about you? For instance, is it what land you own that should be paramount? Is it a third party who might have a right to supply something in confidence to the government? Is it the public's right to know because there is something about that information that might have to do with the environment, let's say, something that might affect the environment?

A lot of the time you will see that there are balances in this legislation. From dealing with it for a number of years, I guess I am not sure if it is right or wrong or black and white. I guess it comes through as a very judgemental decision in the end in terms of the exemptions and what would not be available to the public as apposed to what is available to the public.

On the next slide, the primary important thing about the act, as I mentioned, is trying to get more information out. So there are two sections of the act. One establishes a general right of access to information that is maintained by each one of these institutions, about 300 of them. That is embedded in the act. The second area that tries to solidify that is a statement saying that if information was available to the public before, but just because of one of the exemptions, "Wait a minute; it's exempt now," that is precluded in terms of the operation of the act over the last three years. It was available before and it is going to go out the door still. So it has tried to establish this broad range of access with the exception of personal information. An exception is me requesting personal information about somebody in this room as opposed to my requesting my own personal information.

So it tries to establish this broad range of access to what would be governmental and agency information.

Mr Campbell: I just want to take up where Frank left off. As Frank was just mentioning, built right into the legislation is the view that if I can get the information from a ministry without having to make a freedom of information request, or if it was always publicly available, or if there is nothing sensitive about it, that is the sort of material that should be provided. You do not have to use the FOI process.

What I want to walk you through now is just some of the mechanics of -- if for whatever reason information is not available through normal channels -- how the process works. If there is some sensitivity to the information or it was not normally available. the public has the right to fall back upon the FOI process to make its access request.

The process starts off with a member of the public who wants to find out about something. He has a number of resources that he can use to get himself started.


If you could just show the directory there, Frank, one of the things the act requires be produced is a directory of records, which is fairly thick, as you see. It is a description of all the records and all the personal information holdings of all the ministries and agencies covered by the legislation. This is available in every ministry, MPPs' offices and all public libraries across the province. This can be consulted.

Mr Owens: Are these sent out automatically or do we have to order them?

Mr Campbell: No. In 1991, turn of the new year, mid-January, we will be issuing the 1991 version of that. It will be sent to MPPs automatically, as well as to public libraries automatically. As well, every ministry has its own FOI co-ordinator.

The individual who wants to make an FOI request can use these resources to find out what he is interested in. All they have to do then is either write a letter specifying the records or the information they are interested in, or if you look at the next page on the handout, you will just see the sample of the form that people can use. Again, this is made widely available. You do not have to use a form; you can use a letter if you wish.

I think most members of the public probably do not have a very strong sense of which particular ministry does what or how they keep their records, what forms are being used, and there may be some confusion as to: "Do I send this to the Attorney General or do I send it to the Solicitor General? I am not sure what the report is called," whatever.

In those instances, if you submit a request that is, say, to the wrong ministry or needs to be directed elsewhere or simply is not clear enough, again, the legislation points out that the co-ordinator, in every ministry the person responsible for processing the requests, is duty bound to help the requester clarify what he wants or, if it really should have been directed to another ministry or another agency, to actually direct that request to the proper ministry, to identify where it should go for the request and make sure it gets there, and in doing so, not in any way to interfere with the deadlines that are set out in the act. In other words, the requester is not penalized for not knowing exactly how the mechanics of government work.

Once that ministry or the appropriate agency has received its request, what happens then is, that ministry has 30 days to do the following things. They have to determine whether in fact this request belongs to this ministry. They have to determine, if the record did exist, would it be here or would it be elsewhere? They have to search and find the record. Sometimes it is a single report; sometimes it is a copy of an application that gets filed in all the regional offices from Kenora to Windsor, so they have to search for these to find out where they are. They have to review, consult and determine whether any of the exemptions apply; for instance, are there law enforcement investigations here? Has this person asked for records that relate to other people whose privacy might be invaded? You have to make a decision and prepare the records for disclosure, and sometimes that means, if I have requested your file, your name and personal information might be in that and some of that might have to be severed or exempted out and then copies made and provided within the 30-day time period.

To use an example I just mentioned, if I make a request for your file, you are an affected party. The ministry may have to give notices to you to allow you to have your chance to have a say as to whether your personal information is going to be disclosed, so there is a notification procedure as well.

As I said, if that sort of thing does appear, if the information requested has this kind of material that should properly be exempted to protect privacy or protect law enforcement investigations or whatever, again, the principle that Frank was mentioning, that as much information as possible should be provided, translates in practice that the ministry has to sever out only what should be severed, whether it is a name, a paragraph or whatever and still provide as much as possible and not, for want of an offending sentence, exempt a whole report. They have to provide as much as possible.

As Frank will mention in a moment, if upon receipt at the end of that 30-day period, the person who made the request is not satisfied for whatever reason, he will have the right to have that decision appealed to an independent body. I will turn it over to Frank again.

Mr White: What you will probably hear as a committee during the representations from the public, particularly from individuals who use this type of legislation a lot, are, I guess, complaints about the length of time it takes to respond. We have a statutory requirement to respond in 30 calendar days, not working days. Also, we will talk about complaints about fees in a minute.

Mr H. O'Neil: On the 30 days, you do get extensions or you ask for extensions up to how many days?

Mr White: What you can do is propose extensions for two reasons, and you have to make a case on the length of time. One is, consultations are required outside your ministry, or because a search is through a large volume of records. You cannot consult inside your ministry for a time extension, so I would have to go, for instance, to the association that submitted the information to consult with it. If someone complains, we have to show to the commissioner's satisfaction why it would take more than 30 days.

Mr Drainville: I am curious as to who are the people or the organizations that mostly use this access to information.

Mr White: The problem with it is the requester does not identify himself in terms of why he wants this information. If they have a right, they have a right. What ministry co-ordinators do in terms of the statistics that they prepare for us and the commissioner's office is -- John Eichmanis from the commissioner's office is here today -- they will do a guesstimate on who the requester is, whether it is a researcher, association, media, an individual or other, but there are so many others that it is not particularly meaningful. I guess the media, for general information requests, account for about 10% of the requests.

Mr Drainville: Does anybody have access to somebody else's material?

Mr White: There are restrictions around the personal information. Generally you would get personal information about yourself, but you are not going to get it about anybody else. But then on the great bulk of general government information, there is no restriction on who gets it.

Mr Drainville: Can a government agency, for instance, request specific information on a particular person?

Mr White: This would be somebody making a request outside the agency really, not the internal workings of the organization, let's say, a researcher who works with some market research firm who is interested in some type of environmental assessment report. So they would make a request to the Ministry of the Environment or the Environmental Assessment Board.

The other area that you probably will hear most of the representations on are the exemptions in the legislation. The examples of the exemptions are following the form. They are called limitations on access, which are of course exemptions.

I guess at first glance you would say it looks like a lot. Sections 12 to 22 deal with exemptions. A lot of those exemptions, though, contain what would be exceptions. So, for instance, my advice or my recommendations to my deputy minister would be an exemption under the act. If I recommend you follow this course of action -- not the factual analysis, options; all that can go out -- but the recommendation in terms of the present act would be exempt. But there are a lot of exceptions under that.

For instance, if I have a feasibility study in a ministry, I cannot say: "You cannot have that. That has advice and recommendation, so that is notwithstanding." If I have an environmental impact statement, I cannot say, "That is advice or recommendations." So there is a long list of exceptions that make it a little bit more difficult. Also, I mentioned the specific and limited exemptions, so a lot more detail.

The other thing about the exemptions that is somewhat interesting is that most of them are not based on -- for instance, a law enforcement report is exempt but it is based on a harm; it is based on something that will seriously threaten an individual's health or safety if the information is disclosed, or it would prejudice or interfere with a law enforcement matter. You will see a ministry or agency put in a position of showing that an expected harm might happen in a lot of the exemptions. It is not specific to a particular record.

Mrs Marland: I cannot think of the name of the party, but last year when we were dealing with the problems in the Ontario Human Rights Commission there was a request made to the commission by a CBC radio reporter. Part of the information that he wished to secure came under the personal category because it was dealing with her employment contract with the human rights commission. Because I was involved with that in my role as critic for Citizenship and human rights, I remember reading in the commissioner's decision that even though it is the policy to protect the personal information, in that particular case, because of the compelling public interest or the compelling argument that it was in the public interest to release that personal information, he made the decision to release it. Is that at that point a personal decision of the commissioner? Is he totally responsible?


Mr White: At that point the commissioner would be responsible. He has that power to review a ministry's decision and in fact the factor that he used -- there is certain information in the exemption on personal information. If I request yours, that is a presumed invasion of your privacy -- part of it would be employment information -- if it was released. But there are a number of factors that could rebut that presumption; one is that public scrutiny is required in this particular circumstance. In fact, he said that overrode the person's right to privacy in this particular case and ordered part of the individual's résumé disclosed to a CBC reporter.

Mrs Marland: Was that precedent-setting, that decision by the commissioner?

Mr White: It was precedent-setting in that it gave some guidance on when you could use public scrutiny as a factor for disclosing something. On the other hand, I know a little about that decision and what was actually disclosed was only the employment-related information. For instance, "I worked at Management Board for five years, I am a director of the branch and here are my responsibilities. I worked in the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and I had these responsibilities." So is this balancing an invasion of someone's privacy, to disclose that type of information, factoring it against the controversy that surrounded the hiring practices of the Ontario Human Rights Commission at that time, particularly that individual? He has, as we will see a little later on, the final word in the situation in terms of disclosure.

Mr Campbell: I think it is also fair to say, though, that in that order he said this was really quite an extraordinary case --

Mrs Marland: Yes, he did.

Mr Campbell: -- and only in an extraordinary case would the balance of factors outweigh an individual's privacy. So I think he went out of his way to point that out as well.

Mrs Marland: He did. His opinion was beautifully worded. When he talked about the compelling public interest, his opinion dealt in such an equitable way that I do not think any of us would have argued against it had it been our personal information that was being released.

Mr White: It is difficult in a lot of these exemptions, because you do have to make a case, for instance, compelling, not just public interest in terms of one of the exemptions. You have to show that you almost have no choice in terms of the word "compelling," not just public interest.

There are two types of these exemptions. There are what are called mandatory exemptions. Two examples would be the personal information and third-party information, usually of a commercial nature, that is supplied to government or agencies. If it fits within the terms of those exemptions, then the head of the institution, who is the minister or whoever the decision has been delegated to, has no choice about releasing it. They would have to refuse to disclose that particular information.

On the other hand, most of the exemptions are discretionary. So let's say the deputy or the minister said: "That is the advice of Frank White. It is pretty clear. It says, `I recommend the following course of action.'" What the deputy or the minister could say is: "Yes, I agree with you it is exempt, but I am going to disclose it anyway. I have the discretion to disclose it." So with all the discretionary exemptions, which are the majority, the decision-maker, who is the minister or whoever has been delegated responsibility, can in fact take two steps: first, it is exempt and arrive at that conclusion, and second is to say, "Notwithstanding that it's exempt, I'm still going to release it." That is something that is rather unique about the discretionary exemptions in this particular piece of legislation.

Just to show you, actually, some of the types of representations you might get in terms of the sort of judgement that is made on this, as an example, internal audit reports, there is nothing in the Ontario legislation per se that would exempt an internal audit report. So somebody can say, "I'd like the internal audit report," as an example, "for Ontario Place," and he gets the internal audit for Ontario Place. In both the Quebec acts and the federal act, internal audit reports and working papers are exempt. So again, it is a different approach.

Another example, and this is one from a circumstance which the commissioner decided all a landlord wanted to do was obtain a former tenant's current address, but the landlord wanted to pursue it from social assistance files. That was refused both by the ministry and the commissioner. But I guess from the landlord's point of view, all he wanted to do was try to find the location of this individual to collect what was owing in terms of rent. So there are these types of different viewpoints, I think you will see, as you hear representations.

You can also get requests that will be quite voluminous. Ministries receive those. For instance, with the Ministry of the Attorney General there was a request where the requester wanted "all the information about me concerning an investigation at the sheriff's office in York county." That ended up to be about 1,000 pages of material that the ministry had to sort through and determine whether it was going to release it or not. The requester did not agree with the decision and went to the commissioner, but the requester did get a fair amount of material, actually, from that.

Or you can have something that is extremely straightforward and does not take any time to find. You could have a request, for instance, one with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, and all the person wanted was the petition that contained the names of members of the public who asked for an inquiry into the administration of the city of Belleville.

Mr H. O'Neil: I remember it well.

Mr White: The requester actually got that, yes. So it can be quite difficult in terms of identifying the record and what is part of it, or it can be quite easy: "I want the internal audit report for Management Board secretariat for the year 1988."

Generally those are the exemptions. What we will do now is talk just a bit about the privacy protection in the legislation.

Mr Campbell: As you know, the legislation has a two-part title, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy. What we have just been talking about is really the first part, the access scheme, freedom of information, how people go about getting information. What I want to just discuss very briefly now is the second main chunk of the act, and that is the privacy protection area.

My view is that this is going to be one of the growing areas of interest in the 1990s. We live in a computer age and people are concerned about what information is on them on computer banks and is that information being shared. We all get junk mail and that sort of thing. I think the rules that are set out in the privacy side of the legislation are going to be increasingly more important and of interest to the public as the years go on.

What the privacy code does is it sets out, I guess, two schemes. One scheme or set of rules governs what ministries and agencies can and cannot do with the personal information that they hold. That is one chunk. The next chunk is some of the procedures and processes surrounding your getting access to your own personal information, an individual's finding out about what is on file about himself or herself.

In the first part, the rules governing the institutions, what the legislation says basically to a ministry or to an agency covered by the act is: "Do your job, do your mandate, deliver your programs, but as you do so, simply be mindful of the privacy aspect throughout. Do your programs, but at the same time be respectful of an individual's privacy."

It sort of fleshes out that general guideline in four ways. What it says is that if ministries are going to be collecting personal information about you, they can only collect personal information that they have the authority for. They can only collect the personal information specifically necessary to deliver that particular program. If the information they are collecting does not relate to that program or if you can deliver the program without acquiring that information about people, then you do not have the authority to do so.

It also says that if I want to find out about you, I collect the information directly from you. There are a lot of reasons for that. It is more accurate, you are more informed about the collection purpose and all that sort of thing.

It also says that, assuming you have the authority to collect and you collected it properly, you can only use it or disclose it in very specific circumstances. You can obviously use it or disclose it for the purposes for which you gathered it in the first place, but beyond that, unless you have the individual's consent, unless you can fit yourself into one of the provisions of the legislation, then you should not be disclosing personal information outside the four walls of your ministry or you should not be using it for purposes other than you told the individual you are collecting it for. You should not be using it for purposes other than you have the lawful authority for. So there are some other categories in the act that says you can disclose it in these particular circumstances, but they are fairly narrow and fairly specific.


The final area where the act talks about doing your job and at the same time protecting privacy is that when you store and when you handle and when you finally come to dispose of personal information, do it in a way that privacy is protected. If you are going to be disposing of files, do it in a way that the information cannot be reassembled or you cannot just plough through a dumpster and find, you know, medical files. We are all familiar with the horror stories. What the act says is, you do it in a way that privacy is protected.

These privacy rules apply whether or not a ministry ever gets an access request or not. They apply as long as you have personal information on file. Of course every agency does because, if for nothing else, every agency has employees. So that is one side. These are sort of some rules guiding ministries to be more privacy conscious and setting out some rules as to what they can and cannot do.

The other side of the privacy side -- it is actually the next page in your handout -- deals with the business of an individual's access to his or her own personal information. Again, Frank was talking earlier in respect of there is a general right to information. You have this right to information. Again, the act is very explicit. You have a right of access to your own personal information. It is your personal information. The record is held and owned by the agency, but it is your personal information and you have a right of access to that.

There are some categories or some situations whereby by giving me my personal information I might be invading somebody else's privacy. We can all think of examples where in one file you will have the personal information of a number of individuals all mixed up and by giving me access to mine, if you are invading somebody else's privacy you are exposing them to harm or whatever, you may have grounds for denying me access to my own. But overall, and I think the statistics bear this out, if I ask for access to my own personal information, typically I get that.

If you do get access to your file and you open the file and you see that there is something wrong, there is an error there, the act establishes and lays out that you have a right to request that it be corrected. If you can demonstrate to the ministry's satisfaction that the information is wrong and should be corrected, then the correction happens. If not, then equally you have the right to file a statement of disagreement so that every time that file is used your disagreement comes up with the information as well. If you have found out that in fact there is a mistake and you have asked that it be corrected or you put a statement of disagreement on file there, you can insist, it is your right, to have that ministry notify the users of that file in the past 12 months of the fact that they had been using incorrect information and here is the correction.

So what you see on the privacy side of the act are some rules setting out, heightening the awareness of ministries to protect privacy when they do their job, but at the same time putting in place a formal scheme to ensure your right of access to your own personal information. That is the privacy side.

Mr McClelland: I recall, without any detail and I was wondering if you could help me with this, some controversy with respect to access of students, particularly high school students, to their academic records, and guardians and/or parents also requesting access. I am wondering if you could help me with that, because inevitably that is going to come up.

Mr Campbell: It has come up, yes.

Mr McClelland: And it will come up again. I was just wondering if you could sort of flesh that out for myself and perhaps for other new members as well.

Mr Campbell: The issue that you point out was first talked about before the provincial act came into force, and now of course with municipalities and school boards being covered, it is coming to the fore again. What the act points out is that generally the age below which the parent has access to a child's file is 16. Of course the problem then is, what about the high school student who is over 16?

One of the provisions of the legislation links up with other statutory provisions, so where another statutory provision allows, say the school board in this case, to disclose information to the parent, then our act will allow that. The Education Act very explicitly says that the parent is entitled up to the age of 18. That being an explicit statutory provision. our act will not stand in the way. In terms of the student record, the Ontario student records, the parents will still have the right of access under the Education Act.

Mr McClelland: On the point that you make with respect to the overriding principle of the Education Act, what is the provision of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act with respect to other legislation where it may be in apparent conflict. and what is being done or what has been done to resolve those conflicts? We have an inventory of those apparent conflicts. I know that is part of the review process. What is the general policy with respect to acts that are in apparent conflict?

Mr Campbell: Well, of course, there were a lot of statutes that had been written before the freedom of information act came into force and they would often have provision, that can be generally called confidentiality provisions. The statute would say that this particular kind of information or this record shall not be disclosed or will not be made available. In other words, it acted as a barrier to access.

Now, for a two-year grace period, actually, those provisions would still apply. Our branch, in conjunction with this committee, reviewed the confidentiality provisions that were in place, and after 1 January 1990, they all fell away, with the exception of a few that were actually carried on because there was an explicit policy reason for that to be the case. Examples would be, for instance, certain sections of the Child and Family Services Act to protect confidentiality: section 51 of the Crown Employees Collective Bargaining Act, again for the confidentiality of the records; certain sections of the Pay Equity Act or the Labour Relations Act, which again would guarantee confidentiality. Those few carry on, but as of now, the one piece of statute will determine who has the access to records.

Ms S. Murdock: Working for an MPP before I became one. occasionally when I would call ministries for information on constituents. I would _et quoted this act. In other areas the case worker would not even mention it at all and would release the information. But there is nothing under section 28, I think. that says anything about MPPs.

Mr Campbell: Right. It is section 42. When you are disclosing personal information, that is what is happening here. If somebody from a constituency office will phone up a ministry and say, "Tell me everything about this individual," then you are faced with, "Well, we are disclosing personal information now."

I am not sure what copies of the legislation you have, but subsection 42(j) says that you can disclose "to a member of the Legislative Assembly who has been authorized by a constituent to whom the information relates to make an inquiry on the constituent's behalf or, where the constituent is incapacitated, has been authorized by the next of kin." In other words, you can disclose it to the MPP. If you look at subsection 42(k), you can disclose it to a member of the bargaining agent who has been authorized by the employee.

Ms S. Murdock: Depending on what you define as authorization, right?

Mr Campbell: Yes. I think it is fair to say that in, I suppose, any new piece of legislation, early on there is a bit of, "What does it mean and how is this actually going to work?" There is perhaps a tendency to be a bit more cautious than not.

After the first few months of the operation of the legislation, we looked at this and some general guidelines were issued. Do you have to have authorization in writing, or is it clear? We have simply said that if the MPP indicates that he is acting on behalf of the constituent, his word is good enough for us. Those are the guidelines that have been issued to ministries.

Mr White: There actually was a letter that was sent around to all MPPs. Maybe we could provide that to the committee to see if it thinks it would be useful to recirculate that. It was sort of a procedure in terms of establishing interaction on behalf of the constituent, or one of your constituency workers was acting on behalf of a constituent. It really is to establish a relationship with the ministry so that it knows when this person calls, he is acting on behalf of you.


Ms S. Murdock: You would not be calling them otherwise, would you? I would hope not.

Mr White: Would you like a copy of that?

Ms S. Murdock: Yes, I would not mind.

Mr White: Sure.

Mrs Marland: Mr White, is it true that it takes almost a year, or can take almost a year, to receive information if you have to file for certain information?

Mr White: The ministry or agency is under a 30-day requirement to respond to the request unless it Call make a case for an extension. Maybe that would lead in to what I was just going to say, a word about the appeals and the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Generally, though, a ministry has 30 days and most requests for personal information, I think 90% or 95%, are answered within the 30-day time limit.

Mrs Marland: I am not talking about from my office; I am talking about from Mr or Mrs John Public. If they request information, can it take up to a year for them to get it? It was my understanding that CBC Radio waited almost a year to get certain information. I wondered if that were so and, if so, why?

Mr White: I think that was because of going through the appeal process. For instance in that case the Ontario Human Rights Commission responded within 30 days. There was no question about that. What happens is, and this is a good example, the human rights commission responds and says no. So what the requester has a right to do is appeal any time he or she does not agree with a ministry decision, whether it is on a fee estimate, whether it is an extension of time, if I say no, if I say partially no, if I take out a sentence. Any time an individual is not satisfied with a ministry request, he can go to the commissioner.

The process with the commissioner is that, first, the commissioner will try to mediate between the parties, and there is no time limit on the mediation. He or she, depending on the new commissioner, is working on trying to mediate something that is satisfactory to both parties. Like the court system, there is no statutory time limit.

If a mediation is not successful, and I believe the commissioner has put a time limit on the time he will try for mediation, then it goes into a full inquiry. Both sides at that point are asked to put in written submissions, but the onus at this point is on the ministry to substantiate the exemption. The commissioner, from that process, reviews the submissions of both parties and finally comes to a decision and issues an order, which is final and binding on the parties. He will issue an order saying, "Release the record," "Don't release it," "Release a little more of it" or "I don't agree with the time extension; you've said 60 days, answer this in 25 days."

It really depends on each specific case and the amount of information that is being requested, the number of third parties that might be involved. For instance, there has been a request with the Ministry of Health for records from the drug therapeutics committee where it lists new drugs. It was the ones that are generic drugs. When you get into those minutes, what you are dealing with in each minute is a different drug company. So in fact what either the ministry or the commissioner has to do in terms of if they intend to disclose it is to go to them to find out if they want to make representation. So all of a sudden you have 60 drug companies who want to make representations on why it should not be disclosed. I think that is what might take a little longer in the process in some cases.

Mrs Marland: But that example is probably coming under the Competition Act even. I can understand that kind of information taking a long time, but is it possible to take a year to get information?

Mr White: It could, yes.

Mrs Marland: And you are saying the reason for that is because of the right of appeal. Are we saying that we do not have enough manpower to deal with it more expeditiously? It seems that if you are asking for information, to have to wait a year for it is rather counterproductive. Do we have a solution for that?

Mr White: I think that probably it might be to the committee's benefit to have the staff from the commissioner's office here to talk about the appeal process and, I guess, their view of time. I think it is their office that would be in the best position to deal with that.

Mrs Marland: They could answer the questions about why it takes so long.

Mr White: There is no time limit on the review period for the commissioner right now, there is no "An appeal must be settled in 60 days" or 30 days or one year. It is the process.

Mrs Marland: I just had one other question. As you work with the process from your area of responsibility, are there any particular problems that you experience that you would like to make recommendations on to us so that we can improve the whole process?

Mr White: I think the best way perhaps to handle that would be at the end of the representations. The Chairman of Management Board of Cabinet may wish to make some recommendations in terms of the experience with the act from the government's point of view. I think that probably would be the best time to have the minister make those representations to you. In fact, you might want to talk with the minister at that point to discuss it, after you have the public representations.

Mrs Marland: You are saying as a staff person you cannot answer my question.

Mr White: Well, I have not prepared. I probably could list a number of things, but I have not made any preparations today in terms of, "These are the types of things that could be looked at" or "These are the priorities." I am from one of a number of ministries that are dealing with this. For instance, I am sure the Ministry of Health might have a bit of a different view than I would in terms of improvements.

Mrs Marland: Mr Chairman, I think it is very important, if we are reviewing this act, if we are going to look at helping the staff who implement it and the public who use it as an access to information, that we make the legislation work as well as we possibly can. As committee members, we would have no idea how we can help unless we have the information about where the areas for improvement lie. If we are going to have staff from different ministries -- although I do not understand that aspect, because the actual working with the act comes under one ministry. But if the idea is that we have to go through the minister and all the various staff have to brief him and he has to decide how much he wants to tell us, then that is fine. I guess the process would be that the minister would be here and he will in turn refer our questions back to the staff the way we do in everything else. So I would like to be sure that quite soon we decide that we can schedule a meeting with the minister, obviously after he has been briefed, because there is no point in our doing a review unless we know -- pardon?

Mr Owens: She.

Mrs Marland: She. There is no point in our doing a review unless we know where those areas of problems are and where improvements can be made.

Mr White: Yes, I agree with you. I think that is appropriate, and I think that at that point you might want some statement from the minister of what her thoughts are in terms of areas that might be improved. I think there are two areas. One is the public and its experience, and one might be the internal experience.

Mr H. O'Neil: I guess the dilemma we are under is that we are talking about ordering up the business when we sit in February and what groups we are going to have come before us or, as Margaret mentions, whether it is one minister or several ministers, what staff. I just wonder what we are getting into. Is it something that we are not going to be able to handle in a week or two weeks? Is it something we are going to continue on into when the Legislature comes back to sit in the spring?

I guess one of the questions I would like to ask you is, if we open this up, are we going to have a lot of groups or a lot of people come to us?

Mr White: I think what would be most helpful to you, in my opinion, would be that if you want representations from the government, the minister would come forward on behalf of the government and give those representations rather than asking individual ministers.

Mr H. O'Neil: But then what about other groups?

Mr White: They are lined up. There must be 25 or 30 groups already that are lined up to appear before you.

Mrs Marland: They would probably be --

Mr White: Users.

Mrs Marland: -- representatives of lawyers' associations, professional --

Mr White: You are going to find the Canadian Manufacturers' Association; you will find professional engineers, architects: you will find individuals, for instance, who are not satisfied with the confidentiality provision for adoption records.


Mr Campbell: Unions.

Mr White: Yes, OPSEU.

Mr Campbell: CUPE?

Mr White: Yes, CUPE. The media will definitely be here on disclosure of information about victims. Archivists. I think you will find quite an interesting array of groups.

Mr H. O'Neil: I guess what we have to decide then as a committee is what business we are going to order for the February weeks, and then again how we order for when the House comes back.

The Chair: I was wondering if you could bring that discussion up at the end of the presentation when all the questions are out of the way.

Mr White: I just had two more slides to show you. One on statistics is next, which gives the number of requests over the past three years.

Ms S. Murdock: I want to know which ministry had 5,512 in 1989.

Mr White: I do have that information. As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Revenue had a number of requests, I think it was about 2,000 of those 5,000.

Ms S. Murdock: The Ministry of Revenue?

Mr White: Yes, and they were generally from market researchers who were doing work with property assessment information. So the situation was a little different that one year. You can see the first year there are about 5,000 requests evenly split, general records, and the personal information requests are individuals asking for personal information about themselves. The second year was quite high only because of that one situation. They are just about the same, actually, and for the third year that is our estimate of what will be happening.

You also see the number of individuals who were not satisfied with decisions by the number of appeals: 300, 400, 600 over the past three years.

Ms S. Murdock: And yet down almost 700 in terms of personal requests.

Mr White: If anybody had asked me a couple of years ago to predict where the requests would be, I would have guessed personal information, and it has not turned out to be that way. I do not know why. It is quite different from Quebec. Quebec has a lot of personal information requests; the same with the federal government. Those are the statistics for the three years.

The last page is a page on the fees. Generally the fees involve two areas, really: photocopies -- if an individual does not want to look at the original, they are entitled to a photocopy -- and search time. After the first two free hours there is a surcharge of $7.50 per quarter hour. There is no fee for individuals' access to their own personal information. If I want my own personal information, I get it, if I am entitled to it, without any charge. That takes care of almost half the requests. There is no charge for any reviewing, no charge for any consulting and no charge for decision-making time. It is strictly for searching through the record and preparing it for disclosure.

There are also waiver provisions. For instance, if a requester can make a case that the information will enhance public health or safety, the ministry could decide to waive the fee. If the ministry decided not to, the requester could go to the commissioner and complain about the lack of a fee waiver. The fees collected for 1988 are $13,000 and for 1989 $56,000, of which $32,000 was from the Ministry of Revenue for those 2,000.

Mr H. O'Neil: Did that cover all your costs?

Mr White: No. It does not cover --

Mr H. O'Neil: I was just kidding.

Mr McClelland: Ms Murdock drew attention to fees. Mr White commented on the increase in number of appeals, and also Mrs Marland brought it up. I notice we do have staff here from the commission. Maybe that is an item the clerk could request of staff, that we might address specifically the mechanics of the appeal process and specific handles to assist staff in dealing with the obvious increase -- double in number -- and also the process and what impediment that might provide to the public; if we could turn our minds to that specifically. I wanted to get that on the record so that we will have that as an agenda item.

Mr White: If the committee would like us to come back at any time to do a further presentation either during or after the public presentations, in terms of questions, we would be quite pleased to do that, and of course we will be here with the minister when she has a discussion with the committee. Also, I have brought along copies of the manual provided to each ministry and agency co-ordinator which gives our advice on the interpretation of the act, procedures, and processes. It is also available in the Ontario Government Bookstore. I brought along copies for the members of some flowcharts, that type of thing, sample letters in the back that might be helpful if anybody is interested in getting a little more into the mechanics or into the exemptions and what they mean.

Ms S. Murdock: Are there criteria for the waiver provisions, or is this a judgement call?

Mr White: Judgement.

Ms S. Murdock: There is still an appeal process for a judgement call?

Mr White: I think it is up to the requester, on the point of a waiver, to make the case in some fashion that it is going to, for instance, benefit public health. A waiver condition might be financial hardship: It might be very difficult for a profitable drug company, for instance, to seek a fee waiver because of financial hardship, but the onus would be on the person requesting the waiver to substantiate the case.

The Chair: Any other questions? Thank you, Mr White and Mr Campbell for an excellent presentation. I found out more about the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act today than I had known for a long time. Thank you again on behalf of the committee. Are there further questions arising out of the presentation?

Mr H. O'Neil: I can see it is going to involve quite a bit in the way of hearings and advice. When we get into these changes, we have -- what? -- one year. Would that be the 1991-92 fiscal year?

Mr White: Calendar year. One year from today.

The Chair: I understand; until 4 pm on this date 1991. Any other questions arising out of the presentation? Okay, we will move on


The Chair: Do we want to deal with the budget?

Mr McClelland: I would like to comment on the budget. I know you want to canvass other ideas for discussion, but I do want to comment on it.

I will save my impassioned plea for some other time, but I will mention that I would like the subcommittee to consider our involvement with respect to the National Congress of State Legislators. It is something that started a number of years ago with then-member Wells, who I understand started a brief relationship through the office of intergovernmental affairs with the National Congress of State Legislators. I might add that over the years prior to my arrival here in 1987, the relationship that developed between the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the National Congress of State Legislators was mutually beneficial in a variety of ways, including fundamentally in terms of substantive value the taxpayer would want which was gained from attendance -- I can just say this briefly or I can get into much more detail -- by members of this House to conventions and/or seminars offered through that body. It really came, in a sense, full circle to some maturation this spring when for the first time the National Congress of State Legislators executive held its executive meeting here in Toronto.

I state that to the new members of the committee for a consideration as we go to budget. A relationship has evolved and largely in a non-partisan way, with tremendous leadership shown by the former member for Oshawa, Mr Breaugh, who is now serving, of course, in Ottawa. I think it would be really remiss of us to allow what has evolved into a worthwhile relationship between legislators on this continent, the opportunity to exchange information, to die on the vine, so to speak.

I would ask that our subcommittee consider for inclusion a delegation. Perhaps it may be more appropriate that not everybody in the committee go. I do not know how that decision is made. A given number of representatives from each party would be, I suppose, the compromise position. I, for one, will speak very strongly in favour of inclusion of a budget item for our continued participation as members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. This particular committee happens to be the vehicle through which we, as legislators in the province, have participated in that body. It may be perhaps the intention of the government to move that out of the Legislative Assembly committee, but it seems to me that it eventually ended up here for obvious reasons and because of the nonpartisan nature of our involvement with that organization.


In quick summary, without getting into the merits of it -- I am prepared to do that now but I think perhaps it would be better at a later time -- I would like the subcommittee to very seriously consider it and come back with some information with respect to inclusion of that as budgetary item.

The Chair: On a point of order: This budget we are considering is only to the end of March 1991. As I understand it, the conference is being held in July of next year.

Mr McClelland: I appreciate that. I thought it may be something you would want to look at. It is just so we are advised accordingly. Thank you for that.

Mr Owens: I think Carman makes a good point. I do not think it would hurt to include the item in this budget statement if only to sensitize Management Board to the fact that we want to continue the relationship that has been established in the past.

The Chair: I think we will refer that back to the subcommittee.

Mrs Marland: Just for the record, our caucus supports the comments that have been made. Our representative on the subcommittee is now on the chair in the House; I know he would support the comments that the subcommittee review that.

Mr McClelland: Another item for consideration: I have had some discussion with Warren Bailie, the chief electoral officer of the province, and there is a particular item I will bring through our member for consideration.

The Chair: As a point of clarification. is this on the budget?

Mr McClelland: No. I am sorry. It is another item for inclusion to deal with on our calendar. I just wanted to do that again. For your information, I will channel it accordingly through our representative.

The Chair: Would it be the consensus of the committee that we send the budget back to the subcommittee and have it address the issue raised and also include some travelling allowance in relation to the committee's work around the province and bring it back for the next meeting?

Mrs Marland: Yes. I would not include your comment about "around the province," however. I think the subcommittee can look at where this committee needs to be in order to do its job. and it may not be around the province.

Mr McClelland: Port Credit, by way of example, is a wonderful place to visit.

Mrs Marland: I do not think this committee wants to go to Brampton or Port Credit.

Mr McClelland: But you are welcome at any time.

Mrs Marland: I did read something in this large package of material sent to us that talked about a reference source in Australia and England. I cannot remember where that reference was. I know it was not included in the budget. Where did I read that?

The Chair: There is a package of background material in appendix B provided by legislative research. Appendix B provides a chart comparing legislation in other jurisdictions. You would have seen reference to it there.

Mrs Marland: I am sorry. Are you using an acronym? Did you say NXB?

The Chair: Appendix B, background information supplied by the legislative research service.

Mrs Marland: I think I had better sit closer to the Chairman.

In any case, we have an obligation to make sure that the statutes of this province that affect the people who live here are written and designed in such a way that all the processes referred to in those statutes are expeditiously dealt with. If there are improvements to be made in those matters that come under our jurisdiction, I think our responsibility is to do the kind of research that is necessary to know what improvements we can make by knowing what other people do. It is a very simple formula, and I think that when the subcommittee meets -- if I can find that reference I was looking at earlier, which I cannot pull to my hand at this moment. Was there a reference about freedom of information and privacy acts in other locations?

Mr McNaught: Yes, it is the big package with the clip on it.

Mrs Marland: Can you tell me what page it was on? I have the package, but can you tell me where the reference is?

Mr McNaught: It is appendix B to that package.

The Chair: Yes, but there is also a number of countries such as the United States, New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain.

Mr McNaught: I understand the commissioner's office has a more detailed version coming when it makes its presentation to the committee.

Mrs Marland: Okay. Well, if that matter is going to be dealt with by the subcommittee, I will wait until we hear back from it.

The Chair: Questions on the budget we will refer to the subcommittee and come back at the next meeting with a budget for approval. Any other matters under other business?

Mr H. O'Neil: When will the subcommittee be meeting?

The Chair: I am hoping we can meet tomorrow morning early for breakfast or Monday morning for breakfast.

Mr H. O'Neil: Monday is maybe a little difficult with some of us coming in from outside some of the other ridings. I think last week worked fairly well. We met at what, 8:30?

The Chair: That is tomorrow morning at 8:30 for the subcommittee.

Are there any other matters under other business? Mr McClelland, you wanted to bring up some other issues?

Mr McClelland: No. I will do it more formally and appropriately through the subcommittee, but I did just want to indicate that I would like to bring up at some time in our deliberations some matters with respect to Elections Ontario and the act governing elections in Ontario. I think it is an appropriate time as well to talk about it with some experiences that members of this House might have had in the general election of 6 September. While it is fresh in our minds, it might be appropriate to turn our minds to that before the end of a parliamentary period as opposed to the beginning.

Mr Owens: As long as we can bring in witnesses who have also had experiences. I am talking about voters who were not enumerated and the horror stories. I am sure they happened in every riding.

Mr McClelland: Those are the kinds of things that I think are appropriate to deal with sooner rather than later. I am just throwing that out. If we are to deal with it, it is better to do it sooner rather than later.

Mr Owens: While the memories are still fresh.

Ms S. Murdock: Actually, I think we are getting confused here. In fact, I am doing a private member's bill on amendments to the Election Act on this very point.

Mr McClelland: I raised it again just because I have considered doing the same thing and it would be more appropriate to simply go through the committee. You will find out under standing order 54 or whatever it is that that will not be able to proceed, because there are cost implications related to any amendments, undoubtedly cost implications.

The Chair: It will wind up back here again.

Mr McClelland: It will wind up back here, so we may as well start with it here, deal with it and put our minds together. It is the kind of thing that obviously has to be dealt with as holistically as possible. I think we can benefit from our mutual experiences, good and/or bad.

The Chair: Just before we adjourn, I would like to draw the attention of members of the committee to the legislative research service. They did an overview of the meeting that was held in January of this year, with some possible issues for review in here, part of that package you received, if we could look at it for next week.

Mrs Marland: Yes, I am just wading through it. I am honest enough to say that I have not read it.

Mr McClelland: You have had it for at least an hour.

Mrs Marland: I have had it for at least two hours.

The Chair: Any further business before the committee? Having none, the committee adjourns till next Wednesday at 3:30.

The committee adjourned at 1709.