Wednesday 16 November 1994

Draft report, Municipal Freedom Of Information And Protection Of Privacy Act


*Chair / Président: Hansen, Ron (Lincoln ND)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

*Acting Chair / Président suppléant: Wiseman, Jim (Durham West/-Ouest ND)

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND)

*Johnson, Paul R. (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings/Prince Edward-Lennox-Hastings-Sud ND)

MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton ND)

*McClelland, Carman (Brampton North/-Nord L)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East/-Est L)

Rizzo, Tony (Oakwood ND)

*Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC)

*Sullivan, Barbara (Halton Centre L)

Sutherland, Kimble (Oxford ND)

Villeneuve, Noble (S-D-G & East Grenville/S-D-G & Grenville-Est PC)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present / Membres remplaçants présents:

Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L) for Mr Morin

Harrington, Margaret H. (Niagara Falls ND) for Mr Sutherland

Wiseman, Jim (Durham West/-Ouest ND) for Mr Rizzo

Clerk / Greffière: Freedman, Lisa

Staff / Personnel: Swift, Susan, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1545 in room 151.


The Chair (Mr Ron Hansen): Today the subject will be draft number 2, revisions to the draft report of the committee review of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I think what would be best is if we started off with Ms Swift to update us from June 22, 1994, our last meeting.

Ms Susan Swift: This draft number 2, dated October 25, 1994, reflects the changes that the committee made during its six meetings from May until the end of June, three of them in subcommittee and three with the full committee.

There are two issues that are still outstanding, for which the instructions were either not clear or for which there weren't any instructions, and we can deal with those first or we can go through the report quickly chronologically. My suggestion is, there are 25 areas that I've identified where I think the committee should look at the wording. I don't think so much that the question of concepts is an issue as much as the wording, and perhaps some of the rationale for the recommendations was changed and the committee might want to look at that.

My suggestion would be that we start with where the substantive changes occur in the report, and I could direct you to where you should start reading. We could read those quickly and if there are any questions or suggestions for changes, we could do it that way, if that's what the committee would like to do.

The Chair: Agreed? Okay.

Ms Swift: The first issue then is the issue of extending coverage of the acts. If you turn to page 11, the paragraph beginning, "The committee believes that public institutions such as the province's hospitals," if you start reading from there until the middle of the next page, you'll see the rationale in the recommendations.

Mrs Barbara Sullivan (Halton Centre): I wonder if we could ask Ms Swift to bring us up to date on the committee's reasoning with respect to extending further the freedom of information act to hospitals in particular. I know Mr Wessenger and I were both involved in other committees at the time and there are some concerns respecting hospitals, in particular with respect to privacy, that may or may not be covered in other parts of this report.

Ms Swift: Yes. I should begin by telling you that the committee, in 1991, submitted a report on the provincial freedom of information act and at that time it was suggested to the committee that it make a recommendation including hospitals in that report. The committee indicated at that time that it was reluctant to do that because the Ministry of Health had indicated that it was then involved in a process of reviewing all of the health-related information issues as part of a global health care information access and privacy act, and for that reason they left it. This committee noted that no further movement had been made on that score and felt that it was time that it be undertaken.

If you read on, you'll notice that the committee recommends that consultations be undertaken with all of the stakeholders, including hospitals, to identify those areas of unique privacy and access needs for each of those institutions to ameliorate or get rid of any potential barriers to the implementation of freedom of information statutes to hospitals and other institutions.

Mr Jim Wiseman (Durham West): On this, Ms Sullivan, we heard from a number of deputations who were concerned that their records were inaccurate, that they wanted to make them correct. We heard from deputants who felt they should have access to their own records in order to view them and to know what was in them and to have the ability to update and to correct any factual errors that may be in them, but couldn't even get into their own records. Therefore, there was some question as to whether or not the process should be opened up.

There was never, I don't think, any question about making sure that the general public has no access whatsoever to a person's medical records, but it was that one small group of people who wanted to know what was going on in their own records.

Mrs Sullivan: So those records are covered under different statutes, and individuals do have the right to access their own medical and other therapeutic records.

Ms Swift: I believe there was a concern about the operational information about financing of hospitals and things like that that came up.

Mr Wiseman: That's true. I forgot that, yes.

The Chair: The clerk is going to get the Hansard for the first meeting we had. I think in that first meeting we had, and that is getting close to a year ago, there were some, let's say, guidelines or areas that we would be taking a look at. Just to refresh our memories, being a year ago and this committee's dealt with other issues throughout the year, there may be a copy of that and we can pass it around to the members who are on the committee today, because I think we have a few new members who were not here when we started. But, Jim, you've got a good memory, I can tell you.

Mr Paul Wessenger (Simcoe Centre): I'd just like to add that I think it was the position that, ideally, separate legislation would be the best way to proceed with respect to the whole health area, but it was felt, as indicated, that in view of the time frames, this would be a good step, to try to look at extending the act to public institutions.

The Chair: I believe so. Mr Sterling.

Mr Norman W. Sterling (Carleton): I have no trouble with the recommendation as it lies. The only thing that I didn't quite understand, Susan, from the recommendation was, when you talk about the consultations, how does this envisage that they would take place? Does it say the government will bring forward pieces of legislation and then a legislative committee would react? Does it mean that this committee or another committee of the Legislature would undertake to provide a report on these three kinds of institutions to advise the government as to how it might undertake applying freedom of information and privacy to (1) hospitals, (2) universities, (3) children's aid societies? It's not very specific in that regard.

Ms Swift: No, it wasn't. If you'll recall, the committee at first expressed the idea that perhaps what it would do is start a second round of this legislative review and look at specific institutions and specifically the issue of extending coverage.

It was thought that was not a good idea and that instead there be something a little vaguer, I guess -- I don't know if that's the word -- but something a little less directed be included as a recommendation. In other words, the committee would raise the issue that it was important to extend coverage as quickly as possible, but that it must be done with the moderating influence of making sure that the appropriate institutions and persons are canvassed before that goes ahead. So there was no real discussion about the mechanism that it would take.

The Chair: But I believe we had a few witnesses who appeared before the committee with concerns in those areas.

Ms Swift: Oh, yes; that's right.

Mr Wessenger: I think we've added the words "social service agencies" in the whole category here because there was concern about the whole aspect of the broader public sector. Where those agencies were receiving their source of funding was government so there ought to be accountability with respect to freedom of information.

The Chair: I didn't hear the end.

Mr Wessenger: I was just saying there would be accountability through the freedom of information act that should apply to those agencies which are funded by government.

Mr Sterling: I just think that if people want this to happen, then there would be an opportunity if we said that this committee wanted to undertake hearings and start down the path, one after the other, and say we're going to hold consultations. We had this in our first report, that this was going to take place, and now we want to say to the hospital community, "How should this be done?"

I think it's more likely that it will happen some time in the future. Whatever government we have in 1995 may or may not pick up and do that, but once you start the consultations, you sort of start the ship down the canal in terms of it happening. So I would have preferred us to say that the Legislative Assembly committee should at some time in the future undertake to start consultations as to how this best can be done.

The Chair: Does everybody agree with that recommendation?

Mrs Sullivan: No. I think the current wording is quite appropriate.

Mr Wessenger: I agree with that.

The Chair: With the current wording?

Mr Wessenger: Yes.

Mr Sterling: Let's go on to the next one.

Ms Swift: The next one deals with the issue of law enforcement investigations, and more particularly the complaint that sometimes those investigations are interrupted by untimely research requests. If you look at page 22, the very bottom paragraph, and read to "routine inspection reports," it will give you the thrust of the committee's reasoning on this.

It's my understanding that the committee just wanted to highlight this as an issue and also highlight the possible solution to the problem, but did not want to make any recommendation for amendment.

Mr Wessenger: That's right. We didn't have sufficient information to make a recommendation. That was the opinion at the time.

Mrs Sullivan: That's fine.

Ms Swift: The next one is on 34. This deals with section 14 and the interrelationship of subsections 14(2) and (3) and the suggestion by the commissioner that those categories where there is a presumed invasion of personal privacy be reduced.

Mr Wessenger: This will give more flexibility in determining -- am I correct? The effect of this would be to provide probably more access to information.

Ms Swift: I think you're correct. It would allow more flexibility in the interpretation of the act, and therefore allow greater access. As I understood it, the committee's hesitation was that somebody who was coming to draft an amendment to the act would not really know the harm that was envisaged, for which the amendment should be made, so that it should not be a broad amendment but it should be limited to identified problem areas.

Mr Wessenger: Was this sort of in relation to some of the concerns raised by some of the groups that felt there were some extreme interpretations being made with respect to the privacy provisions, like in the school system?

Ms Swift: Yes, partly, I think.

Mr Wessenger: This was to try to allay some of that concern.

Ms Swift: That's right. The committee was also concerned that with the coming into force of the Substitute Decisions Act and the Consent to Treatment Act, the access issues and the privacy issues that might arise from there should meld with section 14 and any amendment that's made to it, so that second paragraph on page 34 deals with that issue.

Mr Wiseman: This change in interpretation in paragraph 2, there seems to be some disjointedness in the phrasing. As it was suggested, I think you need to put a word in there, just to be nitpicking, I guess.

Ms Swift: Sure.

The Chair: Any further discussion? Okay, I guess we'll carry on.


Ms Swift: The next issue deals with the salaries of public officials and public service employees.

If you turn to pages 38 and 39 and start reading the very last paragraph there on page 38 which begins with the sentence that is struck out, "In light of the significant public interest -- "

Mr Wessenger: That's just a threshold. That's the key.

Ms Swift: Yes, that's right.

The Chair: Everybody agree with the paragraph?

Mr Wessenger: Can I just ask, does this only apply to direct public service employees? It doesn't apply to -- I suppose if we extend the application to the act it would apply to them; that's the broader public service.

Ms Swift: That's right. Currently --

Mr Wessenger: For instance, there's just a lot of criticism right now -- this would apply, though, to school boards, would it?

Ms Swift: That's right. Currently this applies to the institutions that are defined and set out in the act.

Mr Wessenger: Which would be school boards, because there's a great deal of criticism, for instance, about getting the salary paid to the director of education. This would now require that to be published.

Ms Swift: That's right. The issue of the personal service contracts was also raised by the committee. I was requested to add a provision about that and that's the first full paragraph on page 39.

The Chair: And the benefits were included. I think that was something we had quite a discussion on, whether it was just the salary or the total compensation package.

Ms Swift: That's right.

The Chair: Any other questions? All agreed? Okay, carry on.

Ms Swift: The next issue is severance/termination/early retirement agreements, page 41, if you start reading the second paragraph on page 41. The committee raised the concern that firstly those contracts, the financial arrangements of these agreements, should be made public, as are the salaries, but that there was a concern and acknowledgement by the committee that often these cases involve sensitive negotiations in which the term "non-disclosure" is very important. The committee highlighted that issue without coming to a conclusion as to how it could be dealt with. But if you look at recommendation 23 --

Mr Sterling: In the Ottawa-Carleton area, in which my constituency is located, we've had a recent very public case of the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, I believe, letting their environmental commissioner go under certain circumstances. I don't know what the termination of the employment resulted from.

The regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton entered into a contract with this particular individual and it's alleged that he was given a severance of $200,000 on the termination. Part of the contract with this particular individual was that the terms of the severance would not be disclosed, so that the regional municipality of Ottawa-Carleton, the chairman, was put in a very difficult position when asked in public by some of the regional councillors: "Well, we want to know what the deal was. This guy was being paid and the severance package was from public dollars."

My view is that regions dealing with public money shouldn't be able to give that kind of assurance in their negotiations, should not be able to say, in breaking or in the termination of an employment situation where there is severance, that this can be covered up from public scrutiny. It should be public information.

Mr Wessenger: It looks like the recommendation says "that the act be amended to ensure that the section 6 exemption cannot be used to shelter the financial terms of retirement, severance and termination benefits paid by institutions." That seems to be absolute, so it would --

Ms Swift: Yes, but if you turn over to page 42, there's the second recommendation.

Mr Wessenger: I'm just wondering, how does that override? If in 22 we say they should be disclosed and then say "the effects of this amendment" should "be further investigated," what do we mean by that?

Ms Swift: My understanding was the committee was concerned that in these situations -- they involve sensitive situations, sensitive negotiations -- some thought should be given to how you can ensure that these are made publicly available and yet still ameliorate the problem of sensitive negotiations. The committee recognized that as an issue but didn't really have a solution to it.

Mr Sterling: I think we should take recommendation 23 out.

The Chair: Any more discussion?

Mr Wessenger: There must have been some strong reasons. I don't know who -- Jim?

Mr Wiseman: I'm just trying to reflect on --

Mr Wessenger: If it was in the draft report, I'd like to know where it came from.

Ms Swift: It wasn't in the draft report. It came out of the committee discussions on review of the draft report.

Mr Wessenger: The subcommittee?

Ms Swift: No. I believe this was the full committee and I think it was Mr Elston who raised that issue.

Mr Sterling: We don't have to worry about that any more.

Mrs Sullivan: I think the issue Mr Elston was probably bringing to the table, although I was not at that meeting, is the fact that every town in Ontario isn't Toronto. The nature of our communities is such that the incomes and severance arrangements and the terms with respect to severance -- severance usually implies a dismissal of some sort -- in many communities can alter a person's prospect for living a healthy and congenial life within that community. That argument, which is almost a compassionate argument, can't override, of course, the public's need and right to know that public moneys are spent appropriately and that there is value received for tax moneys as they're expended. I think the caution, given that we are not drafting legislative change, is a good one to keep in.

Mr Wiseman: You know what? I think that sounds just like Murray would have said that.

Mrs Sullivan: I knew him well.

Mr Wessenger: So you're recommending that we keep it in.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes. I think that ultimately, if there are amendments ever drafted to this act, it will be done by someone who will have occasion to look at this report. Leaving that particular paragraph out of the report would indicate that the committee hasn't considered the fact that some of the negotiation situations are particularly sensitive ones.

Mr Wessenger: Yes. Having it in allows some flexibility, in drafting of legislation, to look at any concerns. It doesn't mean that you will in effect allow no exemptions, but allows you to --

Mrs Sullivan: Absolutely.

Mr Wessenger: Okay. I think on that basis I would support keeping it in.

Mr Sterling: By leaving it in, I think you just neuter 22. You're sucking and blowing. On one you're saying one thing and the other you're saying another. In these reports, I think you've got to give whoever is reading them this sort of general consensus as to which one you think is more important. I think the public disclosure is more important than the other.

The Chair: If I'm not mistaken, and I'm just trying to remember the argument that was being used, was not the argument being used that we would start depegging of severance pay? If someone was making $75,000, someone received $100,000, and then it would be a point to say, "Okay, he got $100,000 or $75,000; I should get that." If I'm not mistaken, that's what Murray was arguing at that point, that you just keep putting up the ante. "This is what someone got in Ottawa, but I only got this much over here."

Mr Wessenger: Yes. I think you've hit on the issue. I think you might want a time delay factor on some of these settlements or something, because I can see the difficulty. If A gets a settlement of X dollars, than B is going to have something to guide him in negotiations. So it could work to the detriment of the public body in trying to negotiate a settlement with an employee whom they'd like to have resign. Basically, you're upping the ante by having the disclosure.

Mr Sterling: I would argue exactly the opposite. By having disclosure, you would probably down the ante because, as you make it more accountable, the people who are negotiating are going to say, "There's no way I can hand you $100,000, because my people won't stand for it."

Mr Wessenger: Except, though, we may be creating more work for the lawyers by encouraging more litigation. I think that is definitely what Murray's concern was, that we might be forcing everybody to go -- in fact, now that it's coming back to me, I believe that was the discussion. The fact is that if we have full disclosure, then no case will ever be settled. It will all go to court.


The Chair: So it remains, as I see the committee?

Mr Wessenger: Yes.

The Chair: Okay.

Ms Swift: Pages 45 and 46, dealing with the issue of the public interest override, starting on page 46, the third full paragraph, there's a reworking of the committee's rationale on its recommendations. Particularly, there is concern that the override would apply to the exemptions for solicitor-client privilege and for law enforcement.

Mr Wessenger: Yes, that's definitely what I remember, concerns of law enforcement and solicitor-client privilege.

The Chair: Any other questions on the paragraphs? If I'm not mistaken, Mr Sterling, I think you had some comments in this particular area. Refresh our memory.

Mr Sterling: I can't remember what I said yesterday, let alone six months ago.

The Chair: But I think Murray was talking on this issue also.

Mr Wessenger: Certainly, I strongly agree with the concern about law enforcement aspects and solicitor-client privileges as being of higher values and of a "compelling public interest." I think we have to respect the traditional rights that exist.

The Chair: Everybody agree? Okay. Next one, Susan.

Ms Swift: The next is on pages 55 and 56, dealing with the issue of alternative formatting. Starting at the paragraph just preceding the recommendations is where the changes are.

The Chair: Any questions on this? Everybody agreed? Next, Susan.

Ms Swift: Pages 63 and 64; this is the issue of the collection of health card numbers. The committee was interested in adding some discussion about the broader context of youth activities, the collection of health card numbers in, for example, volunteer recreational organizations and the issues that might arise there that would be different from the collection of health card numbers by school boards, which are mandated by statute to conduct their activities. So if you look at the very last paragraph on page 63, that will give you the discussion about that issue.

The Chair: Any questions on that? I think the reason it was written this way, if I'm not mistaken, is coming out with a smart health card with more information on it than just --

Ms Swift: Yes, there were concerns about that in that last paragraph.

The Chair: That's why it was put in that way, to cover that if changes would have to be made.

Ms Swift: Yes.

The Chair: Everybody agrees with that paragraph? Okay, fine.

Ms Swift: The next is page 81. This deals with the issue of notice of an appeal to affected persons. The committee, my understanding was, wanted to combine the recommendation of the previous committee, that is, to define "affected persons," but also wanted to add or to give the commissioner the discretion as to whether or not to notify those affected persons where it just might not be necessary to do so and thereby reduce costs and delay.

So if you begin reading just after that struck-out paragraph on page 81.

Mr Wessenger: This is basically to streamline the process and not have unnecessary notices of appeal going out to people?

Ms Swift: That's correct.

Mr Wiseman: So if you're worried that everybody who had signed a petition would have to be notified, it would cost a fortune.

The Chair: Okay. Any more discussion? Everybody is in agreement? Next, Susan?

Ms Swift: The next is on page 86 and the introduction there to the powers and duties of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. This introduction just sets the framework or the basis of the recommendations and discussion to follow, basically just setting out that any changes to the powers that the committee is recommending ought not be seen as adding new powers, but simply to recognize the fact that these powers are already being exercised and therefore there should be no increase in costs to the IPC.

Mr Wessenger: That's right. There was a concern we didn't want to extend the mandate.

Ms Swift: That's correct.

The Chair: Any questions? All agreed? Okay.

Ms Swift: The next is on the very next page, dealing with the investigatory powers of the IPC. The changes appear on page 88. My understanding was that the committee thought that the addition of explicit review and investigatory powers was necessary but that they should not be initiated independently of a complaint, so that those powers were contingent upon a complaint being made.

The Chair: All agreed? Okay.

Ms Swift: Over to the next page, commenting on access and privacy implications: Currently, clause 46(a) authorizes the commissioner to comment on privacy protection concerns, but not on access implications, of proposed programs for institutions. The changes that the committee wanted to make to this area appear on page 91 in the second full paragraph down, beginning with the shaded area.

Mr Wessenger: So basically what this is doing is placing the onus on the institutions to deal with the privacy matters up front.

Ms Swift: That's correct.


Mr Wiseman: This arose out of some of the comments I was making about how difficult it is to access some information at the municipal level, that it takes too long, and that with the new information processes in computers you should be able to do this much more quickly than you can now and much easier than you can now, and with less charge than you would see being applied to these requests. I think that's the rationale behind it.

The Chair: Any further discussion? All agreed? Agreed.

Ms Swift: The next is on page 95, dealing with the issue of record linkages and computer matching. It was brought to the committee's attention during the course of the hearings that the Management Board Secretariat was in the course of drafting directors' implementation guidelines on enhancing privacy concerns and computer matching. The thrust of the committee's recommendation, set out starting on page 95, is the first full paragraph.

The Chair: Hearing no comments, should we go on to the next area? Okay.

Ms Swift: You might just notice on the next pages, 96 and 97, they've all been struck out. I've just collapsed the discussion there under another heading dealing with commenting on access and privacy implications. It's not completely lost, but it's just been collapsed into it.

The next issue is on page 100, dealing with the issue of exercising the rights of a deceased person. You'll recall, under clause 54(a), the personal representative of a deceased person is entitled to exercise the rights and powers conferred by the act on the person. If the exercise of the right is in respect to the administration of the deceased person's estate, there was concern that it didn't adequately deal with all of the areas that family members might be interested in getting information about the deceased person. So the committee wanted to deal with the issue in a broader framework. That appears on page 102. If you begin at that first full paragraph, you'll get the rationale to the committee's recommendation.

Mr Wessenger: "Believes that the act should be amended to ensure wider access by family members." Right, I think that makes excellent sense.

Mr Wiseman: Yes. This was designed so there would still be some measure of confidentiality.

The Chair: Legitimate.

Ms Swift: Yes, and access as well.

Mr Wessenger: I think the concern is that in many cases it would be an unnecessary expense to force a person to apply for letters of adminstration or letters probate for an estate where you might want to investigate suspicious circumstances of a death or something like that, and it doesn't make sense to put that onus. Family members ought to have that access.

Mr Sterling: I agree with this, but I just want to -- Susan, I don't know if we discussed it, and I don't have a copy of the act in front of me. What happens in the case of somebody who is incapacitated? We're just now going to declare the new act in terms of new powers of attorney for property and powers of attorney for personal care. Can a person get the records who has a -- which power allows you the right? Does it depend on the type of information?

Ms Swift: There's nothing in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that deals with that situation, that is, exercising the rights of a person who is incapable -- I'd have to give some thought to that, Mr Sterling. I'd have to look at the Substitute Decisions Act and sort of see how that fits in with the freedom of information act. Off the top of my head, I don't know.

Mr Sterling: It gives you the authority to act as if you were the person.

Mr Wessenger: The power of attorney ought to give authority to this information; it ought to.

Ms Swift: Yes, and there is something in the act about the freedom of information act. I remember seeing it, but I don't remember it directly deals with your concern, but it would make sense that it would.

Mr Wessenger: Certainly, I think as far as health matters are concerned, the combination of the Consent to Treatment Act would allow the access to information in the health area -- I don't know. It's the other areas that I'd be uncertain of.

Ms Swift: The health area is one of the big issues.

Mr Wessenger: Well, certainly financial. Traditionally, financial information has been given to powers of attorney.

Mr Sterling: I just think that if there's nothing in the municipal freedom of information act, unless it's redundant, it would be helpful to have it in that act, because if you had someone walking in with a power of attorney for an individual, it would be nice for the municipal clerk to turn to this section and say, "Oh yes, I can give you the information."

Mr Wessenger: Perhaps I should leave this checked to ensure that powers of attorney do cover the access to information.

Ms Swift: That's right, and when we looked at this in the earlier pages, we do refer to the Substitute Decisions Act and the Consent to Treatment Act, and recommend that section 14, which is the access to personal privacy or personal information, be in accord with those two acts. In other words, if there is any possibility of an attorney not having access under the act, we have recommended in here that it be done.

Mr Sterling: That would be adequate.

Ms Swift: We've already dealt with that.

Mr Wessenger: Good.

Mr Sterling: That's fine.

The Chair: I guess we can go on with the next one.

Ms Swift: The next issue is just over the next page and deals with exercising the rights of persons under age 16, and specifically that applies to school records. The committee wanted to add a provision, or wanted to add discussion about situations where a student is receiving social assistance, and as a condition of eligibility for social assistance, they're in attendance at school. The committee wanted to deal with that particular issue. That appears on page 104, the second full paragraph.

Mr Wessenger: Could I just ask a question here, because having seen this situation arise in a local school, the difficulty that has arisen is not so much that the -- for instance, what happens is that you have students registered in school and then they never turn up. The social assistance, the welfare -- the municipality never makes any inquiry about whether the student is attending school or not, and I don't know whether the school can notify social assistance.

Of course, they don't know whether the student is on social assistance but there is a basic problem there, so I think it needs to be addressed.

Mr Wiseman: The school would have to contact the parent or guardian or the truant officer, and then that would move from there.

The Chair: But could not the student who is collecting welfare access his own information on his attendance to hand to the welfare office?

Mr Wessenger: The difficulty is there is a problem there: There are people who register at school, do not attend school and collect social assistance. It's a condition of social assistance that they attend school, so there's a problem. Does this address that problem, do you think?

Ms Swift: Yes, I think it does. It addresses the problem of ensuring that the agency has the means to verify attendance.

Mr Wessenger: Okay, that's fine.

Mrs Sullivan: Is that what you want, that the agency can verify attendance --

Mr Wessenger: Yes.

Mrs Sullivan: -- or are you saying that the information --

Mr Wessenger: I think the agency should be able to verify attendance. That's probably the better way of dealing with it, putting the onus on the agency rather than on the school.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes.

The Chair: Everybody agree?

Mr Wessenger: Yes, agreed.

Mr Wiseman: The school would have to be looking out for the attendance. If there is somebody on their books and the kids are not going to the class, those attendance records are done every day. Most schools that I know of will phone immediately to the parent or the guardian, or the custodial person who is responsible for making sure that the student is there. I guess the next step would be that if the person is on their own, then this is where it gets to be a little muddy. How would the student welfare find out about this person not being there?


If they are under the age of 16, then the children's aid society would be called in. If they're over the age of 16 and on student welfare, I imagine the children's aid could still be called in except if they're over the age of 18. Somehow or other that information would have to get back.

The school would initiate it because the school would be interested in why that person isn't there. They would seek to find out, and if they weren't showing up, then they would move to expel the student or remove the student -- not expel, but to take them off their rolls. What I'm kind of wondering here is, if you leave the onus of responsibility on the agency, then what about the responsibility of the school to do what it's supposed to do in terms of making sure that students are there?

Ms Swift: I don't think that's what being suggested; that's not my understanding anyway. What this just provides is that the social service agency could have access. They could request access to it, so it doesn't place the onus on anybody or change the onus of responsibility on anybody. It just says that these agencies can have access to it.

Mr Wiseman: I misunderstood then what Mr Wessenger was saying.

Mr Wessenger: Can I just clarify this?

Ms Swift: Yes.

Mr Wessenger: Would this entitle the school on its own to provide that information if they so desire?

Ms Swift: I'm sorry. I missed that.

Mr Wessenger: Could the school itself give that information if they so desired? If they phoned up and said, "We have these students who are not attending school" -- no, they couldn't do that. It'd have to be the onus on the social service agency because they might be disclosing information about a student who wasn't on social assistance; right?

Ms Swift: That's right. It would be the social service agency that would be seeking the access to verify eligibility for social assistance, so it would be at their instigation in any event because it's in their interest to do that.

Mr Wessenger: Supposing the school does know the student's on social assistance, would that --

Ms Swift: That would do it.

Mr Wessenger: On their own -- supposing they know that as a fact, would that authorize them to disclose unilaterally?

Mr Wiseman: There would have to be somebody on the attendance card --

Ms Swift: I don't know.

Mrs Sullivan: What's the legal relationship between, say, welfare and the child of 16 who's collecting welfare, who's receiving social assistance? Is it a custodial arrangement?

Mr Wessenger: No, it's not a custodial arrangement.

Mrs Sullivan: Then they probably wouldn't have the same right to seek information unless it's specifically included and --

Mr Wiseman: But you don't have the right, since they're 18.

Mrs Sullivan: Nor would the school have the authority to disclose that information to anybody without custody.

Mr Wessenger: That's right. That's the present situation.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes.

Ms Swift: But the disclosure of information in that context is provided for under the Education Act. I would assume that the school board would then be bound by the terms under the Education Act. As Ms Sullivan has suggested, if they're in a custodial relationship, of course they could disclose that information and, if not, they couldn't.

Mr Wessenger: That's right. But with this amendment, this will entitle the social agency, for instance, for the child over 16 or even an adult attending school, to inquire of the school, "X student who's over the age of 16, are they attending school?" I think certainly everybody feels they ought to have access to that information.

Mrs Sullivan: But wouldn't it put an onus on the school to report?

Mr Wessenger: No, I don't think it would put an onus to report.


Mr Wessenger: In the role of the social assistance agency though.

Mr Wiseman: But to whoever has the custodial right, whoever is the legal guardian in the cases of students, because a school would definitely want to know why a student isn't appearing. It's in their attendance interests to know this. Teachers would want to know, I can tell you that, "Why has that student missed the last 10 periods of my class?" or whatever. They'd probably want to know after three; usually after two or three classes people start to phone.

Ms Swift: I think the concern about onus is satisfied by the recommendation of the committee in section 63, that is, the amendment be made to this act, MFIPPA, or to the appropriate legislation, the suggestion being the Education Act. Any concerns about how onuses will be affected or not, if they were dealt with under that appropriate legislation, would be dealt with, I would think.

Mr Wiseman: Okay. I'm happy.

The Chair: Any other questions?

Ms Swift: The next issue is a related issue and deals with access to the information of a person under age 16 in the context of doctor-patient confidentiality and particularly relates to public health clinics, that kind of thing. My understanding was that the committee wanted to incorporate into its recommendation the decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner on the interpretation of the equivalent section in the provincial act, that the rights to exercise a child's rights under the act must be exercised on behalf of the child, so as to distinguish the parents' rights from the child's rights. The discussion there is on page 105, the very last paragraph.

Mrs Sullivan: This whole thing's in conflict with the Consent to Treatment Act anyhow, both of these bills. I think there's enormous overlap and conflicting law.

Mr Wiseman: In what way?

Mrs Sullivan: The Consent to Treatment Act now stands at age 14 where the child can seek independent medical treatment, medical service, and that age was chosen, after much controversy, by the government as being the age at which there can be independent thinking and decision-making and where the child ought to be able to protect privately his or her records. Much of the discussion associated in that situation related to access to birth control information and advice and indeed the actual administering of the therapies, if you like, whether it's the insertion of an intra-uterine device or whether it's the prescribing of a birth control pill.

I'm astonished to discover that this act says the parent can have access, unimpeded apparently, to the child's medical record to age 16 when under the Consent to Treatment Act the parent does not have full authority to consent to all treatments. The child is seen to be an individual in his or her own right and should be able to control those records. There's enormous inconsistency here.

Mr Wessenger: We could ensure that this act conforms with the Consent to Treatment Act.

Mr Sterling: There's a significant difference here. If a child is being asked, "Do you want this treatment?" and it's a 14-year-old child, and the parent says yes and the child says no, under our present law the answer is no, the treatment will not take place.

Mrs Sullivan: The child has a right to appeal.

Mr Sterling: Notwithstanding that the child may be not competent in age, there's nothing you can do except try to cajole or convince the child to have the treatment. In this case when you're talking about information, you're not talking about consultation with the child, necessarily, and treatment to the child, you're talking about something that's external from the child at that time. I think they're sort of somewhat different issues.

Mr Wessenger: I think the basic issue, let me put it very bluntly in the sense of -- under this act it says that the parent can request medical information for a child under 16 years of age. Supposing that 15-year-old child has had, for instance, an abortion, that means the parent could find that information. I think there's a clear interest in protecting the privacy of the child in those circumstances.

Mrs Sullivan: No. You see, I don't think that would apply here. The issues that would be applicable here are those services that would be provided through a public health authority. Many public health authorities through Ontario are those which not only provide birth control information or STD information but also provide treatment, and that's where the problem is.

The problem isn't with the individual's own doctors particularly, the problem is with public health authorities that have records that are available that under the Consent to Treatment Act are treated in a very different way than they would be through this legislation. Somehow the right hand and the left hand aren't coming together here. I don't think we should prolong this. I suspect that when this legislation is drafted there will be adequate concerns raised.


Mr Wessenger: So you think by raising the issue here we've probably at least directed the draftsperson to deal with the consistency questions?

Mr Wiseman: I think you're going to have to deal with when does a person become an adult and have the rights, all of the rights, sometime.

Mr Sterling: We tried to talk about that in the Consent to Treatment Act and you will find, Mr Wiseman, that there's no definitive time.

Mr Wiseman: I'm sure that is the case.

Mr Sterling: There's no magic age either. I think we should accept the recommendation as put here. It addresses the concern of the commissioner vis-à-vis an adult parent seeking confidential information about his or her child which isn't really for the good of the child but for the good of the parent. I think the recommendation is worthy of support. Let's let the legislative drafters worry about conflicts between the legislation.

Mr Wessenger: Could I just ask legal counsel, does this recommendation, by putting in the words "on the individual's behalf," does that mean -- who makes the decision? Is it the commissioner who makes that decision on whether the request is made for the parents' purposes or for the child's purposes?

Ms Swift: Ultimately, yes, it would be the commissioner, because if there was an appeal it would go to the commissioner, but I guess at the first instance the institution would have to determine whether it was or not. This is one of these more difficult questions, certainly, where you have to use judgement on this, but this is already being done under the provincial act.

This decision that we've set out here at pages 105 and 106 was a decision under the provincial act. There was a parent seeking access to his child's records that were held by the Ministry of Community and Social Services and they were denied by the commissioner because they were not being sought on the child's behalf, but rather for good interests, but the interests of the father, and so they were denied.

Ultimately, it would be the commissioner, but certainly at first instance --

Mr Wessenger: But if this act gets extended, for instance, to the hospitals, this would then apply to that situation, right? If this act eventually applies to public hospitals, then a parent could request hospital records under 16?

Ms Swift: Because public hospitals would be covered, would become institutions under the act, that's right, unless there was some amendment made for them. I assume that would be part of the consultations under the committee's first recommendation.

Mr Wessenger: Are there any health facilities that would be under this act presently? Public health would be the concern.

Ms Swift: Public health clinics, yes.

Mr Wessenger: No others? A community health centre would not be covered, or would it?

Mr Sterling: I can think of some instances. Say, for instance, you had a battered child and the school made a record of it and the parents said, "I want to see the record of the child," then I think you're into the same kind of situation as you are here. I don't think it's in the child's interests that the parents see that record, and so the same conflict arises.

Mr Wessenger: It could be argued it was in the interests of the child if it was the non-custodial parent who was seeking the information from the school on the basis of a complaint by the child about battering, to confirm whether there's any --

Mr Sterling: That's a good argument.

Mr Wessenger: So that would be a matter of determining on each case.

Mr Sterling: I just wonder if there are better words than these, because when you say "on the individual's behalf," I read into those words your desire to agree with what the commissioner did in the case. I'm not sure that someone reading this kind of section in an act would interpret it that way. When you say "on the individual's behalf by a person who has," It doesn't say there "to the benefit of the child."

Mr Wessenger: That's what I was wondering: something like "the best interests of the child."

Mr Sterling: That's right.

Mr Wessenger: Could we do something to make sure that it makes it stronger, that the request has to be and the variety of the information has to be objectively in the best interests of the child?

Ms Swift: Okay.

The Acting Chair (Mr Jim Wiseman): That's a big phrase.

Ms Swift: This one is determined all the time.

Mr Sterling: We don't have to be exact in the way we draft the section.

Mr Wessenger: But I think it's better. Then it's clear that it's the best interests. That's what the courts always look at, the best interests and the welfare of the child. So I think that's a phraseology we'd be better to keep.

The Acting Chair: Are we happy with the flagging of this issue? Can we move along to the next?

Mr Sterling: What did you say?

The Acting Chair: The "flagging" of this issue.

Mr Sterling: I just say, put something like that in it.

Ms Swift: I'll amend it so that the right to exercise is based on the best interests of the child.

The Acting Chair: Are we happy now?

Mr Sterling: Yes.

Ms Swift: The next issue deals with routine disclosure and active dissemination of information, the issue which Mr Wiseman referred to earlier, and that appears on pages 108 and 109, if you look at the last paragraph on 108, the committee's discussion, the basis of their recommendation.

Mr Wessenger: This was a concern that we didn't want -- in many cases, municipalities were withholding routine information.

Ms Swift: That's right. There you would have a centralized source that would designate certain classes of records that would be made routinely available.

Mrs Sullivan: It's like the Environmental Bill of Rights.

The Acting Chair: It was my idea.

Mrs Sullivan: It's taken three years to bring that to the floor.

The Acting Chair: This was bandied about and discussed by all committee members, but I felt very strongly that it's being made unnecessarily difficult for people to get information out of their school boards, out of their municipalities and under their levels of government and that it shouldn't have to be that difficult. People should be able to access it through a terminal or through a readily available, commonly held area, that they could just put in a computer disc and get the information or have access to the information. Some of the things that I've heard about information just make it somewhat absurd.

Mr Sterling: I agree with the thought and the thrust. The only trouble you always have with the LG making a regulation is that then the municipality says, "That's all we have to disclose."

The Acting Chair: They're saying that now.

Mr Sterling: No, I mean, if the LG says, "I make a regulation disclosing A, B, C and D," then you'll get some clerks and some bureaucrats saying: "That's all I can disclose: A, B, C and D. Those are the only documents in this place that I'll let out of here without an FOI request." You always have that problem, but I think this is the right route to go. We suggest that we agree. Does anybody disagree?

Ms Swift: The next issue is frivolous and vexatious requests and this is the start of about 10 pages where the instructions were unclear, at best. Actually, if you go to page 113, that's where it starts. Let me summarize briefly for you what I thought what was on the table and perhaps we can discuss from there. You can give me instructions as to what you see should be going in the report.

First, there was a discussion about a BC-like provision which allowed institutions to go to the commissioner and ask that certain requests be declared or found to be frivolous and vexatious and then allow them not to respond or to disregard those requests. That was one issue that the committee discussed and that appears at the bottom of page 113.


Another possibility -- they're not necessarily mutually exclusive -- was that there be a minimum filing fee for each FOI request, in the range of $5 to $10, to act as a disincentive to capricious requests but that would not be so prohibitive as to discourage those requests. A third suggestion was that there be also a minimum appeal fee to discourage capricious appeals but that in the event that in the opinion of the commissioner the appellant was at least 50% successful on the appeal, the fee would be returned.

Mr Paul R. Johnson (Prince Edward-Lennox-South Hastings): That's clear.

Ms Swift: We have to sort of choose among them. They were all discussed and at some points agreed to and then not agreed to or the committee decided not to pursue them.

Mr Wessenger: Can't they all be done?

Ms Swift: As I said, I don't think they're mutually exclusive, but I think the committee has to decide which of those or other possibilities they want to include in the report.

The Acting Chair: To revisit the discussion one more time, I personally don't have any difficulty with a filing fee.

Mr Sterling: How much?

The Acting Chair: About $5; that's what the federal level is. But I do have difficulty with an appeal fee. The reason for that is that I know that some jurisdictions -- not to name any except Metropolitan Toronto -- would deliberately put a filing fee into place or would deliberately say, "We're not going to give you anything unless you appeal," to keep information away from people who want it. I haven't got any questions in my mind that they would do this, given the history that I have experienced with trying to get information, that the environmental group that I formerly belonged to had trying to get information out of Metro about the Brock West landfill site, and continues to have trouble getting, information that should be common knowledge and free to the public. I have no question in my mind that if there was a disclosure fee or a fee for appealing --

Mr Sterling: You mean like a list of water treatment plants that aren't up to scratch, something like that.

The Acting Chair: Something like that. They could be just denied on a basis and then you're going to have to file appeals for all of that. I wouldn't want to have the appeal fee unless, if there is some kind of frivolous or vexatious denial of information, there be a fine levied back against the denier of the information.

Mr Wessenger: If I might just follow up on that, certainly I agree we should have an application fee for a request, because it would have some discouragement of frivolous and vexatious.

The other thing is that where there's an appeal, we might consider the allowance of awarding of costs against someone who appeals without any substance, without any basis, in other words, deemed to be frivolous. Give discretion to the commissioner to award costs against the person or persons who file the appeal. Is that a possibility?

Ms Swift: It's a possibility and certainly that's an issue that we have to decide, but there's another issue I left to --

Mr Sterling: I'll tell you how I would approach it. I think that when the commissioner was here he said, "I don't want to be given discretion in terms of this area."

The Acting Chair: That's right.

Mr Sterling: He said: "I'd rather you pick one or the other. Do an application fee or whatever." I would prefer to do a $25 appeal application fee, which is absolutely nothing in terms of the amount of expense that an appeal would generate in terms of taxpayers' dollars that would be expended in terms of people replying and all the rest of it.

But in terms of Mr Wiseman's concern, I would give, whether or not the information commissioner wanted it, a right for the commissioner, where an institution was clearly blocking information, to mete out some kind of penalty to it in dealing with it and reimbursing people who were having to appeal because of this institution's record.

Mr Wessenger: I would agree with that too, that there should be a penalty, either costs or something, against an institution that, without any basis, denies any reasonable request. That's legal language, but you'd want to say "without any reasonable basis." You wouldn't want to award costs just on the basis of a wrong decision; it would have to be on the basis of unreasonableness.

Mr Sterling: The reason I think that a $25 fee, for instance, is necessary in terms of appeal is because the appeal process is so easily instituted by anybody in society. They don't even have to appear; they can write a letter etc.

The big problem is that it's a very critical issue. It puts the institution in a position of saying, "Hey, I'm not going to consider this lightly; I've got to consider this very seriously because we think that it's a great danger for this information to be divulged," particularly in privacy cases. So they have to put a significant amount of effort into it.

The person, on the other hand, has nothing to lose. He just writes one letter and says, "I want to appeal this," and it's appealed. He doesn't have to show up, but he's started people down the road to doing a lot of work, which I just think is unfair unless a person is really determined to have this issue tried in a fair and proper manner.

Mr Wessenger: I would see it as exactly the opposite. I would see the institution wanting to deny, and it would be very easy for it to deny, and if the appeal fee is too great, then I could see the institutions just on a routine basis denying information to see if somebody really wants it. That would act as a disincentive to groups or to people who are not well-heeled to get the information.

Mr Sterling: We're in a period when governments don't have a hell of lot of money and we've got to have more balance in our systems, where we can't say to everybody, "You can do this and there's no penalty if you do this." If you send a whole bunch of people, bureaucrats running around, lawyers for the bureaucrats running around preparing arguments etc, there's no penalty to you but the poor bloody taxpayer gets nailed extensively.

If you're going to send all of these people running around writing memos, consulting with people, you're talking about thousands of dollars for even the simplest appeal, whereas the person who's writing it in may be writing it in because they're marginally interested in getting this piece of information. To ask them to put up 25 bucks I don't think is an outrageous amount.

Again, I think there should be some overall caveat that if an institution is starting to have a record of blocking people, then there should be some way for the commissioner to deal with them.

Mr Wessenger: But they may not get the record. They may not get the record in that people who want the information but can't afford it just won't appeal, so there won't be any --

Mr Sterling: That may be a downside.

Mr Wessenger: That's a major downside.

Mr Sterling: You can't have everything in the world and try to control what's happening in the expenditures of our province and our country. I think you should have a downside for every upside there is. In other words, if you're going to go in and commit the government to $1,000 in terms of dealing with an appeal, I don't think it's a lot to ask any citizen to put up 25 bucks.

The Chair: I'm going to go over to Mrs Sullivan. I didn't know whether you had a question or you were just waving your finger.

Mr Wessenger: First of all --

The Chair: Okay, Ms Sullivan first.


Mr Wessenger: I was just going to ask for a point of clarification. Is everybody agreed on the minimum request fee as agreed, and it's the appeal that we're discussing? Is that correct?

The Chair: Yes.

Ms Swift: Perhaps just along the lines of clarification, recommendation 60, the idea of incorporating a BC type of provision, that is, where you look at a request to determine whether it's frivolous and vexatious, the committee wants that or it doesn't, the BC approach?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes, we want it.

Mr Sterling: As well as the $5 aspect.

Ms Swift: As well as the $5. Okay.

The Chair: Ms Sullivan.

Mrs Sullivan: I was going to start by saying that in fact I have seen the municipal act used frivolously and vexatiously within a community for small-p political purposes. Indeed, it cost the taxpayers as a whole enormous amounts of money in terms of staff and other time to deal with a purposeful campaign. So I certainly concur with the recommendation of a nominal fee for the initial request for access. I think the BC rule is also quite appropriate and I support that.

I also think there is merit in the $25 filing fee approach. I think Susan, in drafting this, could look at the OMB requirements, by example, because I believe that filing fee is a regulated one. It's not included on a statutory basis. I think you would want to make the same kind of recommendation, that this not be a statutory fee but that it be under the regs.

I also would prefer I think the awarding of costs one way or the other rather than the recommendation which is here, which would be a fully refundable fee if the appeal is 50% successful. I think that one way or the other the institution or the body, without reason or on its own part, vexatiously withholding information can be dealt with in the same way as the person appealing could be dealt with if that person was appealing in a vexatious way.

Mr Wessenger: In other words, you're tying the cost to either side's being vexatious and without reason. Is that what you're suggesting?

Mrs Sullivan: Yes, if in the judgement of the commissioner --

Mr Wessenger: Generally, where there's a legitimate issue, there are no costs awarded. Where one side or the other is being clearly unreasonable, there's the discretion of the trustee to award costs.

Mrs Sullivan: Right.

Mr Sterling: First, the person would have to put up the 25 bucks. It would be a question of whether they got the 25 bucks back.

Mrs Sullivan: No, no. I'm saying the 25 bucks stays.

Mr Wessenger: No, we're talking about something more substantial. We would talk $1,000.

Mr Sterling: Oh, I see, costs after. Okay. That's fine.

Mr Wiseman: I still can't agree with this idea of them putting $25 up to appeal.

Mr Wessenger: You get the cost --

Mr Wiseman: The commissioner would be given the right to decide whether or not something is frivolous or vexatious to start with. I just see it as an opportunity for institutions, and particularly the Metro works department, to deny people information and make it almost impossible for them to get it. It would just be something that small groups of people who have not enough money would not be able to appeal. They just wouldn't; I've seen it happen.

The Chair: It keeps people honest though, the $25.

Mr Wiseman: It doesn't keep the offending institution honest.

Mr Sterling: The costs award does. That's where Barbara is coming from. If the city of Toronto refuses this group three times in a row and they appeal three times in a row, they're going to come in and say, "Hey, bingo, give them the $1,000 costs."

There's another thing too that people should realize. Within any commission or whatever, there's a tendency for these commissions to become larger and larger etc. If there is a time in their history when a lot of people aren't appealing, they start to sometimes attract business.

Now I'm not saying that this particular commission has done that, but there has always been a suspicion in the past that sometimes they generate their own work. It's a funny way to look at it, but I think that this process should be driven by people who have genuine interest in getting information and that's the way it should be.

Mr Wiseman: I think the other part of the way this process should be driven should be that the people have a right to know. They have a right to know what's going on in their government and they have a right to know what's going on in their community. They have a right to have access to information that the public purse is paying for, where it doesn't have personal or individual ramifications. But to be forced into freedom of information requests and then to have those requests accepted and then information be given out, it seems to me that should be the underlying guiding principle. The people have a right to know what's going on in their government and why these decisions are being made, who's making them and what information is there that's impacting on them.

Mr Sterling: Do you want to ask the question, Mr Chairman, how many are in favour of a $25 application fee?

The Chair: Oh, okay, you want to put the question on the floor.

Mr Wessenger: Before the question, I'd just like to know why it's felt that the $25 fee -- if it's a citizen's group, I don't see how that's going to be a problem. Where I could see it might be a problem is for a sole individual who is being given a rough time, but I don't know how to distinguish between the situations.

The Chair: All those in favour of the $25 fee? It's carried.

Mrs Sullivan: And the awarding of costs.

The Chair: And the awarding of costs.

Ms Swift: I'll combine the discussion that appears on page 19 with that.

The Chair: Okay, next?

Ms Swift: Page 120, at the very bottom of the page: We're now into the whole issue of fees and calculation of fees and the imposition of fees. This deals with personal information and whether or not personal information should be exempt from the fee structure in the act, as it currently is.

Mr Wessenger: This is where there's no fee for personal information except where it's repetitive.

Ms Swift: That's right, where it's repetitive.

Mr Wessenger: That's certainly legitimate.

Mr Sterling: Just on the personal information, what were we agreeing or disagreeing on?

Ms Swift: What you were agreeing to was that requests for personal information should not be subject to fees, that is, the photocopying, the search time, those kinds of things that are currently regulated under the act, but that if the request is a repetitious one, that is, for the same information that was provided already by an institution, it would be subject to the full cost of reproduction.


Mrs Sullivan: Can I just ask a question? Once again, I'm sorry that I wasn't involved in a lot of these hearings, but I'd be very interested in a recap of what the experience was of municipalities with people who ordinarily, in the normal course of things, would have simply called a department and got the personal information they needed, or information about their property -- it might be the drawing and the documentation with respect to a septic tank or it may be with respect to the payment of their property taxes or whatever, got it in the normal way -- or those who were using the FOI because they thought that this was now the appropriate way to access information.

My sense is that there's enormous confusion about what are very routine requests, where there are problems in accessing information simply because it's not routinely there on the top of the file or in the normal drawer.

Ms Swift: The evidence indicated that there were concerns on both sides. Institutions had started to regard the act as the only way you could get information and so did users, and the usual or the pre-1987 ways of getting information were now subject to the act and people had to make requests. That was the committee's reason for including the routine disclosure and active dissemination to get around the issue.

Certainly the act, and I forget which provision it is in the act, speaks to that; that is, the ways of getting information previously were still available, you could still get them that way, but here are added protections under the act etc. But the whole idea of the routine disclosure was, I think, in part getting at that very issue, to regularize and normalize the disclosure of information that shouldn't have to have an FOI request or shouldn't have to go through the formality of a request. In other words, it was raised during the hearings from both points of view, I think, users and institutions.

Mr Wessenger: It was quite interesting. When the act first came in, some of the solicitors for municipalities were saying everything was under it. Information that normally you used to write for, they'd say, "Well, you need a freedom of information." They eventually backed away from it, but that's always the concern and we need to make sure that this information continues to flow in the normal course and not be subject to this act.

The Chair: Any other questions? Is this passed the way it is?

Ms Swift: Yes, we've done that. Going on then to the next one, which is "Commercial Purposes," the committee wanted to deal with the issue of -- sorry, that's on page 121 -- information that was being requested for commercial purposes and then sold in some other form, mailing lists and those kinds of things. So the committee looked at the issue of dealing with that by adopting the US model, which Mr White spoke to, as you recall, and that's summarized at page 122 at the top of the page. Down at the bottom is the recommendation.

Mrs Sullivan: I agree that the taxpayers ought not to be subsidizing information requests that are market research or other requests that are strictly for commercial use. We certainly know that there are at least one or two companies that specialize in that work. But with the wording of this recommendation, when we get to the "requests by," have we not left out "requests for personal information" in this list?

"Regulations should designate certain classes of requests and requesters that will be exempt from the presumption including, for example, requests by elected officials; government agencies, boards and commissions; the media and others where the request is in the public interest," or requests for personal information?

Ms Swift: Requests for personal information are already free of charge under the act, except for the issue we just dealt with, that is, repetitive requests.

Mrs Sullivan: Right.

Ms Swift: And no one else could get that personal information of another person in any event.

Mrs Sullivan: That's fine then. Good. I like that.

Ms Swift: The next one is at page 127, which deals with the private sector sale of government information; in other words, the tradeable data information arrangements.

The committee heard that Management Board has now issued directives that apply to the institutions under the provincial act, establishing principles and mandatory requirements for providing access to tradeable data. The concern here was that these private sector arrangements not create barriers to access or, for example, charge fees that would be greater than are permitted under the freedom of information act so that the arrangements not create barriers to access to information that is otherwise available to people under the freedom of information act.

At page 127, the second paragraph, down to the recommendation, basically acknowledges the Management Board's efforts in that area and suggests that they be monitored and evaluated before --

Mr Wessenger: If I recall, this was a concern, with agreements where you privatize the data collection and so forth, that it doesn't end up inhibiting the person from getting the information through the normal channels.

Ms Swift: That's correct. Some of the examples are discussed obviously more fully in the pages preceding -- it's 124 to 126 -- but that's right.

The Chair: Any other questions?

Mrs Sullivan: Most of the documentation and argumentation here is with respect to the provincial act. How would it affect municipalities or school boards?

Mr Wessenger: I suppose conceivably a municipality, with respect to its tax information, could sort of privatize the data system on taxation.

Mrs Sullivan: No. The Ministry of Revenue prepares the rolls.

Mr Wessenger: No, but as far as the tax arrears and taxes paid. I'm talking about assessment aspects of it.

Ms Swift: Yes.

Mr Wessenger: It's conceivable that could be an area under a municipality. For instance, if you want to get information as to your tax status, you would have to go to a --

Mr Sterling: If you wanted to buy properties which were seriously in tax arrears -- you see them advertised from time to time in the paper where these guys advertise properties for sale for tax arrears across the country and maybe the municipalities might want to sell that information themselves.

Mrs Sullivan: Some do.

Mr Sterling: Yes. Isn't that what this is saying?

Ms Swift: Yes.

Mr Wessenger: That's right, getting the information from the municipality without having to go through, say, the private database.

Mr Sterling: I just don't understand what this means in terms of provincially, that's all. For instance, if I wanted to find out who the corporate directors were of XYZ Corp, does this mean I can write to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and find out, without paying?

Mrs Sullivan: You already can for provincially incorporated companies.

Mr Sterling: No, no. I can do that, but I pay a commercial outfit to do that, which has contracted with the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations. That's their business. I can walk into their shop or on their computer -- I'm not sure exactly how you get it now, but you pay a certain amount of money in order to find that out. Now, can I end-run that commercial outfit by going to the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations? I don't know. That's not part of this report.

Mr Wessenger: No, it's not part of this report.

Ms Swift: It's part of the directive, yes.

Mr Sterling: Yes. I'm confused by the directive actually, to tell you the truth.


Ms Swift: Yes, because the directive deals with the issue of impairing the public's right of access, which basically says they're required to ensure that the public will have access to basic government data and related services free of charge or at fees set by the legislation, which suggests that they could do an end run and go and get the information. But I haven't looked at the directive in detail, so I don't know.

Mr Wessenger: Is it fair to say that a person, if they wanted to wait all the time going through the freedom of information, could request the same information you get by going down to 555?

Ms Swift: I would think so. As I said, I haven't looked at the directive in detail but it basically says that those types of arrangements which the government has set up with the private sector contractor cannot impose conditions that are greater than what could be imposed by the government under the freedom of information act. So you have to be able to get at the information; if the service charges more money, you have to be able to get that information without having to charge -- that service presumably could go to the government to get it.

Mr Wessenger: Well, what I'm looking at is, say we have a $10 fee under this act and you have a $25 fee for doing a corporate search. Does that mean that every lawyer could say, "Well, I'm going under the freedom of information act and get my information on the corporation for $10, rather than going through the $25 fee"? That might take longer, but I suppose that conceivably is so. Am I right?

Ms Swift: I don't know the answer to that. I don't know.

Mr Wessenger: That's an interesting question.

Mrs Sullivan: This section needs more work.

Mr Sterling: See, the government of Ontario is in the business of selling information, okay? They make, I don't know, $15 million or $25 million or $30 million selling information each year. They sell information to insurance companies about automobile drivers. They sell information about corporate directors, about corporate names to people who want to find out that kind of information. That's public information. But there's an arrangement whereby they -- that's why I can't understand this, Susan, what this means. I don't think it's really relevant to what we're talking about anyway. I think it's confusing, quite frankly, to deal with this at all in this report.

Mrs Sullivan: Yes, I agree. Let's take it out.

Mr Wessenger: You mean just take the whole thing out?

Mr Sterling: Yes.

Ms Swift: Take out the whole section dealing with it. Okay.

The next issue is the issue of standardized test questions. It appears on page 131. In the first report I dealt with standardized psychological tests and employment-related testing in two sections. I've collapsed them together, as the committee requested. The committee's concerns about these types of tests and whether or not they're adequately protected by the act are dealt with starting at page 133 -- actually, more to the point, page 134, the third full paragraph.

Mr Wessenger: Basically, I agree. We weren't in a position really to make a recommendation. That's what we're saying.

Ms Swift: But that there are important issues raised.

Mr Wessenger: Yes, there are important issues raised. That's right.

Ms Swift: The next one is architectural plans, page 136. The committee thought that although there were adequate protections under the Copyright Act against the use of architectural plans and building plans, the privacy concerns may not be adequately addressed with respect to those types of information. The rationale and recommendation appear on page 136, the second full paragraph, beginning with, "The committee believes."

Mr Wessenger: We're just saying study it. We're not making any recommendation.

Ms Swift: Yes, and that, if necessary, appropriate recommendations be made.

Mr Wessenger: Well, that's pretty safe.

Mrs Sullivan: Shouldn't some of this be included under trade secrets as well?

Ms Swift: Yes, it is, but there was concern about building plans that are routinely made available, architectural plans that people can see, and the people use them and then -- they're prohibited from using them under the Copyright Act, but there are still privacy concerns.

Mrs Sullivan: I have the Syl Apps centre in my riding, and one of the famous FOI requests was from an inmate at the Syl Apps who wanted the architectural plans and all the security information, including the new window designs, and continued to make application for that.

Mr Wiseman: When I was parliamentary assistant at the Ministry of Correctional Services, we were getting them all the time.

Ms Swift: The very last issue is legislative review, and it's very minor. It's on page 139. It appears in recommendation 83 that the committee conduct a comprehensive review of both acts together. They had suggested three years from the completion of this review. The change was to five years from the date of enactment of any substantial changes to either statute.

Mr Wessenger: You don't want to do this more than once.


Mr Wiseman: You're just a newcomer. You can't say that.

The Chair: I have two quick questions to pose to the committee. Do you want to see the report again after Susan's third draft? Is it the third draft?

Ms Swift: Yes.

The Chair: Or should we just table it in the House?

Mr Wessenger: I think it should be circulated to all the members and an opportunity given if anybody wishes to make comments, and if there is any concern, we should have another meeting. But as long as there are no objections raised by any member, I think we should submit it to the House.

Mr Sterling: Can I make a two-minute pitch here? On a couple of occasions when I've sat on committees, basically committees dealing with studies like this on various legislation -- once we did it on agencies, boards and commissions in dealing with the food terminal, and I forget the other occasion on which we did it -- I suggested that coming out of the committee we not only write a report but that we write a bill and present that to the Legislature in the name of the chairman of the committee, with the hopes that the bill could be passed in a relatively short period of time.

We are late in the session in terms of this Parliament.

In the next Parliament we're going to have some different players. There's a tendency for this kind of review to be put on the shelf and not dragged out for a lengthy period of time. What I would like the committee to do is to take those parts of this report where we were very clear on coming to a consensus or a conclusion in terms of changing sections within this act and to prepare a bill for amending this particular act in that way.

It's always been my contention that we should change the legislative process here. We should have not only private bills, which are bills dealing with the incorporation of a hospital or a railway line or whatever it is, and private members' bills and government bills. I've always maintained that there should be a fourth bill, and the fourth bill should be a committee bill, that where a committee has come to a consensus in dealing with an issue and wants to get it past the Legislature in a relatively short period of time, they should take that initiative.

Then members of the Legislature can not only fulfil the function of being, I guess, on the sidelines as legislation goes by, but they can also be generators of legislation where they can actually see where their work comes to some fruition in the end.

The Chair: I just have one question before --

Mr Sterling: I would do this in full consultation with the Chair of the Management Board as well. In other words, I would not be trying to run over his head or whatever, as we did in the other two or three instances where we were successful in doing this.

The Chair: One question I have is, first reading, but at the second reading, the debate would take place during regular debate times, or would it be a Wednesday morning or would it be a different time? I'm just saying, like private members', that's Thursday morning, first and second reading?


Mr Sterling: No. In the other instances it was called by the House leader during regular legislative time. There was a deal made between the House leaders that there would only be a certain amount of time this legislation took. We heard basically the kind of presentations that you would hear after a bill had gone through second reading. So why reinvent the wheel? Why not take what we have where we're solid on our feet, go to the minister and say: "This is what the committee has decided. They want to put forward a bill in the name of the chairman of the committee," and as a result you will get the bill within a relatively short period of time?

Mr Wessenger: I have some concern because I don't know how you get the status of a bill unless it's a government bill. I think we might achieve the same result if you had a request to the minister to prepare draft legislation for study by the committee based on the recommendations of the report.

The draft legislation would then come back here. We would deal with it as draft legislation, make our comments and change it so that draft -- I'm just thinking that the mechanism, if you're trying to get something through, would be more effective, and then we could submit an approved draft bill, which could then be a government bill, whoever the government happened to be at that time. Now, the government could choose not to do it, but it would be a way of trying to deal with it, because we don't have a process. It's either a private member's bill or it's a government bill. I don't think we have a process for that.

Mr Wiseman: Well, I have to say that there's something attractively democratic about this notion in terms of empowering the committees to do more than what they currently do and to be in some cases more accountable and give members of all parties a little more say and a little more importance in this place than they currently have.

I would like to hear a little bit more about what other bills they were and what sort of mechanism and how they proceeded and under what circumstances. I will confess to being interested in this in terms of it changing some of the ways things are done around here, which I think are in sore need of being changed.

Mrs Sullivan: This committee has had several goes at reviewing the committee system and I guess we ultimately never did complete the dialogue and discussion on how the committee system at Queen's Park can be revitalized and changed. Certainly, my best experience on committees has been on select committees, where there is an independence and a non-partisanship that's quite evident. This committee, the Legislative Assembly committee, tends to fall into that same structure.

My sense is that we can learn from other jurisdictions about bill preparation outside of the government-proposes-and-opposition-disposes kind of routine. But the probable interim approach would be through draft legislation, and then of course we'd have to once again move through the public consultation process where the draft bill would once again be reviewed almost in a white paper approach.

The other question that I have, and I believe there would be some significance in this particular legislation, is with respect to the role of the committee where there are financial concerns, in that the government party of course is responsible under the rules and certainly historically in a parliamentary democracy for those decisions which relate to financial and fiscal obligations. So that's problematic and I think that would affect this particular kind of bill.

I think that if we want to move into stronger legislative approaches from the committee system, we should spend some time looking at what appropriate methods are for creating draft legislation out of a committee and what the interlink between government is. Frankly, I don't want to in the end have to be co-opted by a government in power if I'm not a part of that government in power or a part of the party that's a part of it unless there is a full consensus on the committee and there's some concurrence that the government will not change the approach or the recommendations that have come from the committee.

So there are lots of things to chat about. I don't know what bills came out of committee that you were referring to or how they were put. I recall one, I think, that did go forward as a private member's bill but had come out of committee and was supported on an all-party basis.

Mr Sterling: There were two. I guess I don't approach these things with the same amount of caution perhaps as others because I'm concerned that caution will overtake us in terms of never --

The Chair: Never, never.

Mr Sterling: -- never proceeding to do anything. I'm more buoyed by the opportunity to try a few times and then eventually if it works three or four times, somebody will say, "Hey, let's make this part of our procedure," and then work out how you draft legislation in a committee sense and go on from there.

In the one instance when Herb Epp, a Liberal, before 1990 was Chairman of agencies, boards and commissions, we went through an examination of the food terminal and we wrote a report. We had reviewed the food terminal as the ABC committee -- agencies, boards and commissions -- 10 years prior to that. We'd made the same report 10 years before and nothing had been done. As a result, I said, "Let's at least do something out of this," and I was able to convince the committee of the day to at least change one section of the bill. I consulted with the Minister of Agriculture at the time. He had no objection to it and in fact agreed with what the committee was saying, and so in the name of Herb Epp that particular bill was passed.

In another instance, when I was the Chairman of the agencies, boards and commissions, we did another piece of legislation. Quite frankly, I can't remember the details of that particular piece of legislation. I don't think they were as important perhaps as this piece of legislation is in terms of its overall effect.

As I say, we are into the final days or the final months of this Parliament and I just think it's incumbent on me to try to keep pushing the process to another level.

What I would suggest we do if we wanted to pursue this is that the subcommittee of this committee sit down with the minister, have our capable assistant, Ms Swift, who has worked with us, and go to legislative counsel and say, "Well, this is what the committee has agreed upon: A, B, C, D, E," and that we go and negotiate with the minister in a group and say, "Okay, will you accept what the committee has done or hasn't done?" If the negotiation is fruitful, then we go ahead. If it isn't, we don't go ahead.

The Chair: Who makes the decision, the minister or the subcommittee? He has to make the decision.

Mr Sterling: The minister can do anything he wants. He can bring forward a bill or not bring forward a bill as a government bill. I prefer not to have this as a government bill because I would prefer to have you, Mr Chairman, be the sponsor of the bill and the bill in your name as an amendment to this act, because I think it then becomes a different process. There's a different feeling within the Legislature, that it's not "them" and "us" who are involved in this, that it's been reached by consensus and you're starting to develop a process, perhaps, for the next Parliament to pick up and carry on.


Lisa Freedman, our clerk, reminds me that it was on behalf of the Legislative Assembly to amend the Legislative Assembly Act. It was dealing with the service of documents on individuals, wasn't it? Members, MPPs? As I say, it wasn't of the same import or complexity as we're talking about here, but I don't know how complex this act is anyway.

Mrs Sullivan: Perhaps where we should start is with bills that actually respond to the concerns of this particular committee, which is the Legislative Assembly committee, including the pay bills.

The Chair: There's a way, maybe, to sort of introduce the idea again into the House. When I present the report, the comments that I make from the committee could be used at that time to make other members in the House aware of the concerns of the committee to put a bill in to cover areas like this for the committee.

Mr Sterling: With respect, I don't think anything any one of us says in the Legislature really is going to have a huge amount of effect in terms of doing that. I think what it takes is some kind of combined will of the people in this room to do it, if you want to do it. If you don't want to do it, then we'll have to deal with it next time through. My only concern is that, as I say, we're six months away from an election, probably, and it's very unlikely that this matter is going to be dealt with by us, and I just don't understand why the next group of politicians who are here should have to go through this process once again.

Mr Paul Johnson: Is there any problem with this going before the subcommittee and the minister prior to going to legislative counsel? That would be agreeable?

Mr Sterling: Sure.

Mr Wessenger: I just have a question: Could the committee request, for instance, legislative counsel to prepare a draft bill based on this report? It's just a question.

The Chair: But then that would be given to the government or that ministry and would be introduced.

Mr Wessenger: No, no, it would just be a draft bill prepared for us.

The Chair: We can draft it, yes. But I think what Mr Sterling's trying to say is this has a different title on it. This is not a private member's bill, it's not a Pr bill and it's not a government bill; it is a committee bill.

Mr Sterling: It still is a private member's bill.

Mrs Sullivan: It will be Mr Hansen's bill and Mr Hansen can go to legislative counsel for assistance in drafting the bill according to the values and directions that are provided in the report. One of the questions is going to be whether in fact there are parts of the bill that are money matters and whether the private member can take that forward. My view is that he probably can't, but we should probably have an opinion from the clerk.

The Chair: Could we get a research paper --

Mrs Sullivan: Sure.

The Chair: -- in that particular area on what other jurisdictions -- to give us an idea if it's done someplace else.

Mrs Sullivan: This one is a private member's bill.

Mr Sterling: But if the matters that cannot be dealt with by a private member aren't there, then leave them out, leave those sections out and deal with the other parts. All I'm saying is a half loaf is better than no loaf, and I think that is what's going to result if we don't take any action.

The Chair: Can I just allow the clerk here to give some advice to us.

Clerk of the Committee (Ms Lisa Freedman): Actually, it's not advice, it's just a comment. None of the problems that have been brought up so far are insurmountable, but there is one issue that hasn't been brought up that might be a problem which is that this committee must report within one year of the commencement of these hearings.

We commenced in the middle of December; we could probably stretch that to January when we actually started our hearings. Whatever the committee wants to do, there is a deadline that we will be dealing with, which is a fairly short deadline -- but whatever the committee wants to do. Nothing is probably insurmountable.

Mr Sterling: We can report. We can report this tomorrow as far as I'm concerned, but what I'm saying is, you take the next step after the report. You just don't say, "We're going to give you a report which you can throw on the shelf," and wait for another five years for something to happen. We're going to try to do something more than report.

Mrs Sullivan: It's on the order paper as a private member's bill.

Mr Wiseman: But what you could do --

The Chair: I'm sorry, Mr Wessenger did have his hand up there.

Mr Wessenger: I would like to suggest that we do report but we have some recommendations with options with respect to how we might advance the cause of legislation. One option is to prepare, for instance, a bill as a private member's bill. Another option would be to prepare a draft bill which includes all the money items and we, as a committee, could then endorse, I would suggest, draft legislation and do a further report.

Mr Sterling: I don't think there are money items in this bill.

Mr Wessenger: Well, the fees would be --

Mr Sterling: Fees are not taxation. I think it's taxation you have to worry about. Lisa, could you help me on that?

Clerk of the Committee: It's actually a charge on the consolidated revenue fund. That can only be proposed by a minister.

Mr Sterling: So a fee is not a charge on the consolidated revenue fund, right?

Clerk of the Committee: I'd have to speak to legislative counsel.

Mr Sterling: Okay.

Mr Wessenger: There is another concern we might have. There are several items in the report that say "further study." There's a question. Certainly we may be advancing the cause by preparing a draft bill or a bill, but our ultimate goal surely is to see legislation introduced which is comprehensive and covers all the items.

Mrs Sullivan: My own final recommendation would be that this particular piece of legislation is far too comprehensive as an initial step in committee draftsmanship and there may be other issues such as, by example, the Members' Conflict of Interest Act or Legislative Assembly Act which relate directly to the affairs and issues surrounding the independence of the members of the Legislature that may have more pertinence and, indeed, could be addressed in a broader and less controversial way.

Although I'm certain that the committee had a fairly comprehensive look at the municipal FOI, there are probably other issues that will come forward after this report is circulated, and there may well be some controversial aspects that those of us who are private members don't feel we have the responsibility nor the mandate to defend.

Mr Wessenger: If I might add, we also have to remember there's a provincial act too and to do this act in isolation from the provincial would be, I think, not appropriate. We'd want to deal with both if we were going to, and that's a very comprehensive undertaking for a committee. We'd be doing nothing for the next three years, if we were going to proceed.

Mrs Sullivan: That's right.

Mr Wiseman: I don't tend to agree with this. I really see an attractiveness here to broaden -- I've spent about a year and a half working on the franchise legislation and it's quite a hefty piece of legislation. I've done that pretty much on my own with some outside help. I don't see why committees can't broaden the scope of the kinds of things they're tackling with all of the support of legislative counsel that's available to them.

I'm really quite intrigued by the possibility that some forms of legislation could come out of committees, would have all-party agreement when they do and would actually accelerate the passage of certain kinds of legislation. This bill strikes me as one of those bills that could fit very nicely into that niche.

I'd rather give it a try and see how it turns out. I'd rather go forward with it and trip over the barriers, as opposed to not move at all. I think we've got here an interesting opportunity because there is broad all-party consensus on the kinds of things that need to be done. It could be drafted. Where there is contention, we could have more hearings. This committee could take this bill and move it forward and work in consultation with the ministry.


Mr Paul Johnson: If the committee's in agreement, why doesn't the committee direct the clerk to make arrangements for the subcommittee to meet with the Chair of Management Board prior to this draft going to legislative counsel? That may assist in coming up with a draft that's achievable.

Mr Sterling: I don't think we should give up on the basis that -- it's too easy to say no. It's easy to find the reasons why you shouldn't do this. Could I suggest this procedure: that Susan take the legislative sections out of our report and have them roughly drafted in a bill and say to legislative counsel, if you're using legislative counsel to do this, "Don't get the wording down perfectly, but as close as you can," and then we take that, give a copy to each of the parties and the Chairman of Management Board and we then have a meeting with that roughly drafted bill. Then we decide at that meeting if all, part or none of us can come to an agreement that we want to carry it forward as we have proposed.

The downsides to doing that are very, very small. All that can happen is that somebody says no at the next stage, and if one party says no then it's dead.

Mr Michael A. Brown (Algoma-Manitoulin): I'm following this conversation with some interest. I'm intrigued, as I think everyone is, with the ideas but I think the first thing we have to do is report --

The Chair: Yes, report.

Mr Brown: It seems to me after that the issues should be decided by the subcommittee as to how this committee can proceed. It seems to me just in terms of what we can do by the authority of the House would be to report this. We can order our own business, provided the government doesn't have something else it's sending down to us. I'm just not sure of the technicalities of how we do this.

We're charged with the responsibility of making this report, so that has to be done. The next problem then is, how do we order our business? If there's a government bill that comes here or if there's something else, then we've precluded that. My problem at this point, while I consider what's been said, is we may be instructing people to do things that are just not going to happen, Norm. In the short term, there may be things we have to do here. Rather than sending people and costing a lot of money to government lawyers and what not drafting a bill, maybe we should just find out where we stand before we make any of those kinds of opportunities.

So let's report the report, have the subcommittee consider these ideas and then next week or whenever we can move on with it. It just seems to me to be the logical way to deal with this situation. Having said that, I'm very intrigued by what Mr Sterling has suggested.

The Chair: I think Mr Sterling had made the point that we report it to the House and carry on with that on the bill aspect. As you take a look at the timetable of what we have coming up, I believe the Speaker will be directing us. I think Ms Marland had sent a letter to the Speaker on the Evelyn Gigantes inquiry, which is coming to this committee, and maybe that will take our time before Christmas, yet we'd still have a subcommittee meeting to see what is going on, because the subcommittee normally doesn't meet on the Wednesday afternoon, but at other times. Maybe Lisa can give us an idea on our timetable.

Mr Sterling: Could I just ask a question?

Mr Wessenger: That's a motion that we move and report. I would suggest we should vote on that so we get that through.

The Chair: Okay, let's report.

Mr Sterling: Carried.

The Chair: Okay, carried. We got that done. The other thing is that the report -- is there a problem with tabling it in English and the French will follow? It will take a little while.

Mr Sterling: No, not for me.

The Chair: Okay.

Mr Wiseman: But we're going to see that; we're going to have it circulated before --

The Chair: Yes, but we'll only have the English circulated and most likely we'll go into the House to report it right away, but the French copy will follow.

Mr Wiseman: I speak both official languages, one better than the other.

Mr Sterling: Okay. Susan, how much work would it take to take out of the report your draft -- forget about legislative counsel -- of the amended sections?

Ms Swift: It wouldn't be very difficult to identify those sections, particularly where the committee recommends that the section be amended to such and such. There's a list of recommendations that you can see follows the report and we can basically just go through there and identify which those are. Those could be put together, I guess, in a bill that resembles something. But to do the legislative drafting on recommendations that aren't formulated in that way and to put them into legislative language isn't really something I'm competent to do in the sense --

Mr Sterling: Okay. Well, let's take what you have in terms of if the recommendation says, "Section A should be drafted to say this." Let's take what you have said and then have this meeting with the three parties and the minister and say, "Okay, how much can we agree on and how much can't we agree on?"

Ms Swift: That wouldn't take very long.

Mr Sterling: That's right, okay, and it's not taking a lot of time and we'll know whether we strike out. If we strike out, we strike out.

The Chair: What's your time frame, Susan?

Ms Swift: I'm in the committee's hands. I could do that, I think, fairly quickly. As I said, I can just basically identify them from the list of recommendations. What I would suggest, though, is that the list go to the committee first before we go ahead and have meetings.

The Chair: Yes.

Ms Swift: The committee should decide which of those recommendations should be incorporated in the bill instead of me, I think.

Mr Wessenger: I don't think we're making a decision at this stage.

Ms Swift: No, but I would identify those and then if there are any additions you had to make or deletions -- I don't think it would take very long for me to do that.

The Chair: Lisa, maybe you could tell us our next project to give us a time frame -- we've got three weeks before the break -- and when that would be coming forward.

Clerk of the Committee: The only thing that's referred to this committee is an investigation into a breach of privilege, but it's my understanding that it may be moved from this committee to another committee because it's members and substitute members of this committee who may have caused the breach. Therefore, there's really nothing referred to this committee. The only thing the committee often does at this time of the year is to meet with the Clerk and the Sergeant at Arms, but that's at the discretion of the committee.

Mr Sterling: The process we're talking about here takes no legislative time at all.

The Chair: Yes.

Mr Sterling: I mean it takes no committee time. It takes a little bit of time in terms of subcommittee time.

The Chair: Yes, that's what I was saying earlier, that the subcommittee would -- okay. Adjourned for the day.

The committee adjourned at 1758.