Wednesday 9 October 1991

Review of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987

Donald Rowat

City of Toronto

Parents Empowering Parents


Chair: Duignan, Noel (Halton North NDP)

Vice-Chair: MacKinnon, Ellen (Lambton NDP)

Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot NDP)

Frankford, Robert (Scarborough East NDP)

Jamison, Norm (Norfolk NDP)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South PC)

Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)

McClelland, Carman (Brampton North L)

Morin, Gilles E. (Carleton East L)

O'Neil, Hugh P. (Quinte L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)

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


Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L) for Mr Morin

Sterling, Norman W. (Carleton PC) for Mr Villeneuve

Clerk: Arnott, Douglas

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

The committee met in camera at 1558 in room 151.



Resuming consideration of a comprehensive review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987.


The Chair: I call forward Professor Donald Rowat from Carleton University. Welcome. You have up to three quarters of an hour to make your presentation, but I urge you to leave some time for committee members to ask questions.

Mr Rowat: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. It is a great privilege to be able to come to this session of your committee. I would like to compare the freedom of information laws in Australia and New Zealand and highlight some of the major differences from the law in Ontario. It will be a kind of overview of some of the major problems you may be dealing with, rather than detailed proposals for amendment to the legislation.

Your clerk tells me I have only 45 minutes and you have reminded me of that. As you know, professors are programmed to speak for exactly one hour. I will try to adhere to the famous old proverb of Confucius, that he who speaketh by the yard and thinketh by the inch deserves to be kicketh by the foot.

Perhaps I should preface my remarks by saying a little about my long interest in the Ombudsman institution and in freedom of information. The Ombudsman first got me interested in freedom of information. Since then I have written and edited a book about the Ombudsman. I have also edited a series of books of graduate student essays because I have run a couple of seminars on freedom of information at Carleton University.

I should also mention that I am more of a specialist on freedom of information than I am on privacy, so I am going to be focusing my remarks mainly on the freedom of information aspect of the law rather than the privacy side.

One thing I should mention, although perhaps most of you are aware of this, is that Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is only part of a reform in the most advanced modern democracies in providing a right of access to administrative documents. There has been a recent spread of access laws throughout the most advanced democracies starting with Sweden, the other Scandinavian countries, Denmark and Norway, as early as 1970, then the United States in 1974 and the Netherlands and France. Some of you may not be aware that France is probably the biggest democracy in the world, aside from the United States, that has adopted a freedom of information law.

Then the Commonwealth countries came along, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but not Britain. It is interesting that Britain, although it does have protection for personal privacy and control of data protection, has not yet passed a freedom of information law except at the local government level.

I think your clerk may have distributed to you at an earlier date a paper I prepared comparing the freedom of information law in Ontario with the law at the federal level, and in that I included some comparative comments on Australia and New Zealand. Then, when I was on sabbatical leave, I took a trip there in May 1990 and gathered further information.

The interesting thing is why should we be interested in what is going on in Australia and New Zealand? The thing I found is that there are some surprising parallels in the developments and the problems. I think probably it is for a number of reasons. One is that these countries are part of the Commonwealth and have a similar system of government. Of course, Australia has a federal system with very many interesting parallels to Canada.

It is interesting that five jurisdictions in these countries adopted a freedom of information law in the same year, in 1982, so it is a landmark year as far as freedom of information is concerned in the Commonwealth. In Canada, the federal government and Quebec adopted a law in that year; in Australia, the federal government and the state of Victoria adopted an access law; as did New Zealand in the same year.

A little bit later, the biggest state and province, Ontario and New South Wales, adopted laws in 1988 and 1989. So the provinces in Canada are a little bit ahead of the states in Australia, because we have a bare majority now that have a freedom of information law, but I think the Australian states may beat Canada because the other states are actively discussing such a law and are likely to adopt one within the next two or three years.

In general outline, the laws are very much the same. They use the main principles and exemptions and so on, but there are some important differences and I thought I would highlight these differences for you. I am going to focus on what seem to me to be the six most important differences: the systems of appeal they have adopted; the administrative appeal tribunals in Australia, which are worth special mention; the provision for the internal review system, that is, provision for internal review within government agencies that has been developed in Australia; the matter of fees; the extension of freedom of information to local government, and the protection of privacy data or the control over the use and distribution of personal information, if there is time at the end.

I will start with the appeal system. The interesting thing about the appeal systems in Australia and New Zealand is that they all had ombudsmen in all the states and at the federal level in Australia and in New Zealand before they adopted freedom of information laws. So they all used the Ombudsman as the appeal body. Ontario had an opportunity to do this but decided to set up an independent commission instead.

I had a double interest in going there because I was interested in both the Ombudsman and freedom of information. The two subjects overlapped as far as I was concerned, so much so that I sometimes got confused about which one I was gathering information about. In contrast with Ontario and Quebec and the federal level, which have separate commissions, they all make use of the Ombudsman. That is one of the significant differences.

The second one is the provision for final appeals. Here is a really significant difference because there are new administrative appeal tribunals that have been set up in the state of Victoria and at the federal level in Australia and they have become the main avenue of appeal, at the federal level partly because of the Ombudsman's resistance. I think he felt overloaded. He had a skinny budget and felt that he should not take on this added responsibility. Another reason is that these administrative appeal tribunals gave binding decisions, like the commissioner in Ontario. Also, at first it was a cheap method of appeal, but you will see later that this has not turned out to be so at the federal level.


These administrative appeal tribunals have been a very successful invention in Australia. I have become very interested in them because they deal with all of the administrative decisions, not just freedom of information, so that they are a new invention for purposes of maladministration and appeal against maladministation, and freedom of information is only part of their activities. I discovered at the federal level that this tribunal is a huge organization that has about 80 or 90 judges who meet all over Australia, usually hears cases one at a time and more difficult cases three at a time. There is also one in the state of Victoria, which was the first one in Australia to adopt FOI.

New South Wales, however, did not follow this example. It did not set up an administrative appeal tribunal and therefore appeals go to the district court, the way they do in the United States, to the regular court system. This was also true in Victoria before the administrative appeals tribunal was set up there.

New Zealand has also changed somewhat because the Ombudsman used to make only recommendations, but they have changed the system there recently so that the Ombudsman's recommendations on appeal become binding if they are not overturned by a cabinet veto within 20 days. This change arose out of the fact that ministers were vetoing some of the Ombudsman's recommendations, partly to avoid personal embarrassment. Opposition arose to this and so they transferred the veto to the whole cabinet and, as far as I know, there have been no vetoes since that time; the Ombudsman's recommendations are nearly always accepted and in effect become binding.

The third difference that I wanted to speak about is what is called the internal review stage in Australia. All three of the freedom of information laws provide for this internal review within a government agency, so there is an extra stage in the Australian system in which, if a person is refused a request for a document, he appeals at a higher level within the department or agency. This is a formal stage that we do not have.

It is interesting that between a quarter and a half of the appeals that go to a higher level within a department are changed. Either they decide to release the full information or part of the information, so they vary the decision at the lower level. The percentage of cases that are reviewed is much higher for internal appeal than it is for the formal appeal system, that is, to the Ombudsman or the administrative appeals tribunal. It varies, but something like between 5% and 20% of all requests are appealed to the department or agency, whereas the number of appeals that go through the formal appeal procedure is less than 1%. You can see that it is a very important stage and most of the appeals go through this internal review system.

The fourth thing I wanted to mention is fees. Fees started off very low, and they have remained low in Victoria and New Zealand. There is also a provision to waive fees on account of financial stringency and in the public interest, and there is no fee for making a request in either Victoria or New Zealand, but it is not the same in New South Wales.

A more recent plan, which was brought in during a period of financial stringency, provided for a fee of $30, and you have to keep in mind the Australian dollar is worth a bit more than the Canadian dollar on the international markets, so these dollar figures are even higher for us.

In New South Wales it costs $30 to make the initial application. They even charge for the internal review, so it costs $40 if you want to appeal to a higher level within the agency, but there is provision for a rebate of 50% for poor people.

The real problem has arisen at the federal level, because the federal government in Australia has raised the fee by stages. I think in the first year of the plan it cost requesters something like 54 cents to make a request and get their information. The federal government has progressively increased the fees until they are now $30 and $40, the same as in New South Wales, for a request or an internal review. It costs $300 to take an appeal to the administrative appeals tribunal, and that started off at a low figure and has been increased to $300.

This had the effect of shifting more appeals to the Ombudsman because it did not cost anything to take appeals to the Ombudsman. If it is going to cost you $300 to go to the administrative appeals tribunal you are very likely to go to the Ombudsman unless you want a binding decision, in which case you would be willing to pay your $300 and go to the administrative appeals tribunal.

The unfortunate effect of this has been to reduce the number of requests, so the requests four years ago -- in 1985, that is going back more than four years -- had risen to about 3,600, which is a pretty substantial figure in our terms, per year, and they dropped as a result of the increase in fees to 2,500 in 1988. I have not seen recent figures, but I suspect they have been dropping since that time.

That is the effect of increasing the fees in Australia. Also, the number of requests has been rather low in New South Wales because it started off with this hefty fee structure.

The fifth point I was going to mention is the extension of freedom of information to local government. As here, they started off without including local government. The scheme in Victoria in 1982 did not cover local government. They promised to do so but it was not done. But I noticed in a pamphlet they hand out that they say local government is presently governed by the freedom of information code, whatever that means. It means that, informally, the FOI guidelines are supposed to be applicable to local government, I suppose.

When New South Wales started its scheme in 1988, it extended access to personal information only to local government and so there is no right of access to general government documents at the local level. There is talk about extending general access to the local level in New South Wales, so that is a bit different than what happened in this province.

New Zealand started off without it covering local government, but extended it in 1987. That was five years after it began its plan. After interviewing people in New Zealand, I discovered that a very small proportion of their total number of appeals to the Ombudsman come from local government, only about 10%. The reason they gave me was that it was a fairly open system to begin with. But a problem arose because the legislation in 1987, which was separate legislation as it was here, applied to the meetings of councils and provided an opportunity for the councils to continue with closed meetings and only made the minutes of the meetings available under the freedom of information law. That is briefly the situation there.

Let me just say a few words about privacy. In general, the Australian and New Zealand laws provided for access to one's personal documents and the opportunity to make corrections as under our laws, but they did not include controls over the use and transfer of personal information. That was the big gap in the Australian and New Zealand laws, what is called fair information practices with respect to personal information.


In 1988, the federal government in Australia passed a privacy act and set up a privacy commissioner, and this in a way overlaps the freedom of information law because he can also receive complaints about personal information. But the main objective of the law is to control the use of files -- and it even extends to the private sector -- particularly in the use of tax files held by employers in the private sector. It was also extended to private credit agencies, and that has caused a big controversy in Australia because there is such resistance to extending privacy protection to the private sector.

There has been a privacy committee in New South Wales for a long time, since 1975, with a kind of general mandate to study the problems of personal privacy and so on. They have issued a very interesting recent report that just came out in 1990. They have recommended a privacy and data protection act which would be somewhat similar to the one at the federal level. They say that their main reason is because the European commission has issued a directive which prohibits transborder transfers of privacy information unless a country has a law which protects personal data. They say this is going to injure trade of New South Wales with the European countries. Also, they point out that seven of the European Community countries, including the United Kingdom, extend privacy to the private sector in many important respects. So they control the use of personal information by the private sector, especially in computers.

Another interesting thing is that they want the privacy commissioner to be advisory only. Their reasoning is that they think the privacy commissioner has to be an advocate and the commissioner cannot be neutral if he or she has the power to make binding decisions. So they come down in favour of the power of recommendation such as we have at the federal level in Canada.

Another interesting thing they mention, by the way, is that they feel that Ontario's act is stronger than the federal act in Canada and it is in many ways better than the Canadian federal law -- with which I think I would agree -- probably because it was drafted later and incorporated more advanced provisions.

Let me just then run down some conclusions that one can come to about these main differences between the Australian and New Zealand laws and our own. With respect to appeals, the big question is and has been for a long time whether the agency hearing appeals should have the power to make binding decisions as opposed to only recommendations, such as at the federal level in Canada or the Ombudsman.

Here I think the outstanding thing has been the success of the administrative appeal tribunals, which have pretty largely displaced the Ombudsman as the main appeal for citizens who have been refused access to information. One of the main reasons is that the administrative appeal tribunals hear far more cases and give far more decisions and therefore interpret the law much more quickly than, say, the federal court in Canada. This, of course, is also an advantage of the Ontario system compared with the federal level in Canada.

The general opinion of all the people I talked to in Australia was that the administrative appeal tribunals have been very successful. I have, as reported in a paper that I did comparing Ontario with the federal level and New Zealand -- I think this paper may have been handed out to your committee -- pretty well shifted my view, because I had always been in favour of the Ombudsman, to realizing that a commissioner who can make a binding decision or an administrative appeal tribunal that can do so, is probably a superior form of interpreting the act.

With respect to internal review, this is really an outstanding difference between the two systems and I think it is certainly worth further study. The interesting question is: Is it an unnecessary formal stage? You would expect to be able to appeal to a higher level within an agency or a department in any case, and this is what they told me in New Zealand. They said, "We don't think it's necessary and it simply complicates the appeal process."

An interesting question is whether the mediation stage the Ontario commissioner has developed is an adequate substitute. It is interesting that the administrative appeal tribunals have also developed this mediation stage, so they try to settle a refusal or other complaint by mediation before holding a formal hearing. They have developed a kind of two-stage system the same way the Ontario commissioner has. I think it is worth further study because it is so different from our system.

With respect to local government, I do not think these countries have much to teach us, except New Zealand, because certainly Quebec and Ontario have been ahead of these countries in extending freedom of information to local government. It is not a big problem in New Zealand, so it looks as if there is not a great deal to be learned there.

With respect to privacy, of course, that is going to be the next big problem we will have to wrestle with -- the extension of the protection of personal privacy to the private sector. Nearly all the people I talked to in Australia and New Zealand agreed that voluntary guidelines may not or, some said, will not work and we have to extend the freedom of information law to the private sector with respect to data protection, as they have done in Europe.

The interesting question, I guess, for this committee and the Ontario Legislature is whether the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act can be extended to include the private sector with respect to personal privacy, or is a new piece of legislation needed as has been done in Australia and the seven European countries I have spoken about.

I will conclude with some of the main comparative statistics. To give you an idea of the proportions, the total number of requests for information -- these are figures for 1988 -- at the federal level, as I mentioned, has dropped from about 36,000 to 25,000. Victoria has about 11,000, which is a little more than double Ontario. Victoria is a slightly bigger population, I think, and probably the reason it is so big is because the act has been in effect for six years there. New South Wales, on the other hand, has only about 2,000 a year, and I suspect the reasons are that it is new, people do not know much about it yet, and the high cost of the fees which discourage people. This compares with Ontario, which has something like 5,000 requests a year. They are roughly comparable in terms of population except that the federal level in Australia appears to be exaggerated.

One has to keep in mind that these statistics combine requests for general information and requests for personal information, and the experience in these countries at the state level is that about 60% of the requests are for personal information. That would be about the same for Ontario, I would guess, is it not, that over half the requests are for personal information? Whereas at the federal level in Canada about 10 times this many requests are for personal information. It is roughly comparable in that respect.


I have some comparative tables. New South Wales, because its scheme was new, was interested in comparing with its sister state of Victoria and with the federal level, so it produced an interesting comparative table of the key statistics. I will leave a copy of that with the clerk of your committee, along with a couple of other tables they produced. In my files I discovered duplicates of documents on Australia, and I will leave those with the clerk. Also, I did a scaled-down article for an Indian journal -- India has become interested in freedom of information -- that compares Ontario with the federal level, and there were some comparisons with Ausutralia and New Zealand. I will leave that article with the clerk and he may be able to reproduce it for your committee. I will also leave him with the references to my own publications in case you may be interested.

I hope you are not too confused by all these statistics and by the comparison of so many systems. I hope you will not be like the student -- I was invited to be co-director of a conference of the Canadian Federation of Students one year, and we decided to have an evaluation at the end of the conference. We were questioning students about what they thought of it, and one young woman said: "When I came here I was confused. I'm still confused, but I am confused at a much higher level."

I hope that you will be confused at a much higher level. Thank you very much, and I hope there will still be time for questions.

The Chair: Thank you, professor. There is about 10 minutes for questions.

Mr Sterling: With regard to the Australian legislation, is it more liberal in its provisions? Are the exemptions narrower so that more information gets out?

Mr Rowat: It is surprising how the countries have copied each other with these exemptions, but I think the outstanding feature of the Australian and New Zealand ones is that they provide for public interest. In most of their exemptions, instead of exempting by class of document, they will say, "It can be released for an overriding public interest." That has been been a liberalizing influence, I think, on the exemptions.

Mr Sterling: How often has that happened in Austria, in either the case --

Mr Rowat: The administrative appeals tribunal, especially at the federal level and in Victoria, has been rather generous in its interpretation of the public interest clause and so they had made use of that to issue orders to release information.

Mr Sterling: There has not been a public interest release of information in Ontario, has there? Not that I am aware of.

Mr Rowat: Maybe not. I do not know.

Mr Sterling: I do not think anybody who has appealed on that basis has won an appeal to date.

I see some negatives. I think the public interest test in Ontario is very, very narrow, and I think the former commissioner interpreted that to mean he did not have much room to deal with the public interest test.

Mr Rowat: Yes, that is one impression I had.

Mr Sterling: I wonder whether or not the reason we are not at 10,000 requests in Ontario is because people are not getting any real information. That is my reading of the act. I think it is a shield. I do not think it is a freedom of information act.

I was the minister who was responsible for this from 1981 to 1985, and the greatest fear of my cabinet colleagues was that there would be a great flood of information that went out. I now find that their fears were totally without foundation. I think the Ontario act, administratively, works wonderfully.

Mr Rowat: Yes.

Mr Sterling: I think that Sid Linden, as our first Information and Privacy Commissioner, did an absolutely wonderful job in setting it up. He has written good, reasoned decisions in a short period of time. Therefore, the law is perfectly clear now that you cannot get anything, so consequently people are going to stop.

I used the act maybe 40 times in the first three years. I gave up because basically you do not get anything that is not in a printed public document. The bottom line of the whole act, in my view, is that the freedom of information part of it is really a farce.

Mr Rowat: One of the impressions I have -- it is an argument against having a single commissioner with the power to make binding decisions, I suppose -- is that he has a tendency, I would say, to play it safe by being a little conservative in his interpretations because he knows that this is going to be the law. Whereas in some of the jurisdictions in Australia and New Zealand there is provision for a ministerial veto, there is no such thing here. So Linden knew that his decisions were going to become the law of the land, so to speak, whereas an Ombudsman just makes a recommendation that can be overturned and he or she can afford to be a little more liberal in their interpretations, I think.

But then the counterargument is the one I have already given. You get much quicker interpretations of the law because you get far more binding decisions, whereas the Federal Court I think heard about 12 cases in the first few years under the federal law.

Mr Sterling: Where is the ministerial veto, in New Zealand as well as Australia, or just in New Zealand?

Mr Rowat: I have forgotten. I cannot name them, but there is provision for a ministerial veto in New South Wales, I know, and that is relatively recent law. I remember that while I was there the Prime Minister exercised his veto, although he had made a promise that he would not do so, and there was quite a furore about that. There is that out, as far as the government is concerned I suppose, in the jurisdictions in Australia.

Mr Daigeler: Just as an aside, I would like to indicate to you, Professor Rowat, that I am familiar with your work on the Ombudsman because I have a personal friend from Switzerland who did graduate work with you in the mid-1970s by the name of Werner Schmid.

Mr Rowat: Werner Schmid. Of course, I remember. I visited him in Switzerland.

Mr Daigeler: Zurich. He has got a good place there, by the way.

Mr Rowat: He turned out to be a banker, did he not?

Mr Daigeler: Yes. That is right. If you are in Zurich and in Switzerland you should be a banker.

Mr Rowat: That just shows you what can happen to political scientists, I guess.

Mr Daigeler: We were both at Carleton at the same time.

My question arises from a document that I just picked up here. I am not a regular member of the committee but I read with interest the comments by a historian who is complaining that the Archives of Ontario, because of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, is not making information available that otherwise would have been available. Apparently there is a 75-year time line now being put on documents to be looked into. Have you come across that at all in Australia? What are they doing to allow researchers --

Mr Rowat: No. I do not know about Australia, but I can say something about the federal level. I think the custom is -- and I do not know whether it is true; it is probably true in Ontario -- that even though documents are transferred to the archives they remain under the control of the originating department until this period is up. That may be a problem. It is the department that decides rather than the archives.

Mr Daigeler: I am simply going by this document here. The researcher says it is the archives that has put in that rule, apparently, in the act. Mr Sterling probably knows more about it. An agreement could be made with the archives to provide the documentation but apparently the present regulations are so strict that they cannot provide the names, and the names are all crossed out.

Mr Rowat: That is right. For personal privacy it did restrict the archives.

Mr Daigeler: The researcher says it is almost impossible to go after further information. She is saying she is doing some studies into the early 1930s. I am just wondering whether that matter also arose and whether they found a solution that you are aware of.


Mr Rowat: I did not inquire into that, because that would be primarily a privacy aspect. I was not asking too many questions about privacy, only their integration with the general law. May I ask a question of Mr Sterling that arose out of his comments?

The Chair: Maybe we will just do the party rotation here and then I can come back. Mr Cooper.

Mr Cooper: Professor Rowat, I would like to thank you for appearing here today and giving us an overview of some of the other jurisdictions and their freedom of information. One thing you brought up, it seems you are advocating the Australian system where they have the internal review. Is it Australia?

Mr Rowat: No. I am sold on the administrative appeals tribunal but I am not so sure about the internal review, because it is a formal procedure and they charge money for it at the federal level and in New South Wales.

Mr Cooper: Oh, it is not like you are advocating it.

Mr Rowat: You see, Victoria has quite a different system. It has very low fees and it is very generous in its interpretation. I talked to the head of the FOI unit in the Attorney General's department and she said: "I think it's appalling that they're charging a fee for internal review. It should be a citizen's right to have his decision reviewed at a higher level within a department or agency." I think I agree with that. I am not sold on that. But it does seem to reduce the number of appeals that go through the formal procedure, which is costly, you see. That is one advantage of it I suppose.

Mr Cooper: You were saying about 5% to 20% of the cases are appealed and 50% are overturned. One of the things we have been discussing is that if the regulations were better enforced or better understood, right at the release of information, it would cut down on the number of appeals. Do you think that is possible?

Mr Rowat: Yes. One thing they told me they suspect happens under the internal appeal system is that if junior freedom of information officers, what we would call co-ordinators in this country, are doubtful, they will say no, because they know it can be appealed to a higher level within their own department. So this woman in Victoria was saying, "Why doesn't that officer consult a higher level to begin with and give a proper decision to begin with?" There is no reason why they could not do that.

Mr Cooper: So if a proper understanding of the regulations at the bottom was in place, the act would probably be better.

Mr Rowat: Or refer it to a higher level informally before the decision is made.

The Chair: Do you wish to ask Mr Sterling a question?

Mr Rowat: You were mentioning that you had made use of the freedom of information law. I noticed that there is a very good article by a man named Hazell -- I do not know whether you ran into his name or not -- who was from Britain. I think he was in the Prime Minister's office or some central agency.

He was sent to Australia, New Zealand and Canada to make a comparative study. He produced an article -- and I can leave the reference to it with your clerk -- which was an excellent comparison. It appeared about a year and a half to two years ago. He mentioned that the opposition in Ontario made very good use of the freedom of information act. I am just curious to know how many members of Parliament make use of the act and do they make use of it on the government side as well.

Mr Sterling: I do not think we make very much use of it any more, because we are better off asking for a request for information outside the act than inside the act, the reason being that the immediate reaction of a minister is to immediately stall for 30 days and then ask for an extension for another stall.

Mr Rowat: So an informal approach gets better results. That is your point.

Mr Sterling: That is right. I have not tried it under this government, quite frankly, but I found under the former Liberal government, basically it was used as a shield to get out timely information. By the time information is 60 days old it is no good to me. In a political atmosphere you have to have information usually within two or three days.

Mr Rowat: There is the same problem with newspaper reporters, of course, and I have always been surprised --

Mr Sterling: Even if I can identify the specific document and I know it is sitting on the minister's desk, I will not get it for at least 60 days. Consequently the opposition parties have basically given up. We may use it as a political ploy, but that would be the only use of the freedom of information act for opposition members now.

Mr Rowat: Are there not occasions on which it would be useful? I am always surprised at how much use the newspapers make of it, even though they may get this stalling tactic and it may take them days to get the results. I guess a good investigative reporter is not worried about getting the news out the next day.

Mr Sterling: No. The other thing I started to run into under our act with the former Liberal government was that it started to send me bills for thousands of dollars for information that I would get as an MPP, even though my job in being elected as a member of the Ontario Legislature was to object and find out information about what was going on.

The Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen, for an interesting exchange. I wish to draw members' attention to a brief that is in their packages today from the chief archivist of Ontario. It deals with the subject that you brought up today.

The first paragraph, the bottom half of it, states, "Considering the experience to date of the Archives of Ontario in administering the legislation, and the difficulties encountered by its public users in gaining access to archival records, we believe that some amendments to this act are esssential to make it workable in an historical research setting." So they also obviously have some concerns and maybe it would be worth the committee's while reading this brief and taking it into consideration when it is time to make some deliberations on the report.

Again, professor, thank you for coming along here this afternoon and making your presentation. I will make sure that the information you are leaving with the committee is distributed to committee members for their consideration.

Mr Rowat: Here is the documentation I was going to leave with you. Should I leave it with you?

The Chair: Leave it with the clerk of the committee.


The Chair: The next group of witnesses are from the city of Toronto.

Mr Levine: I am not sure I am a group.

The Chair: I understand. State your name and position with the city.

Mr Levine: My name is Greg Levine. I am the research solicitor of the legal department of the city of Toronto.

The Chair: You have up to a half-hour to make your presentation. It would be nice if you could leave some time for members to ask questions, if it is possible. I understand Barbara Caplan from the city clerk's department is here today as well.

Mr Levine: She is. I would like to thank the Chair and members of the committee for the opportunity to appear before the committee to present a submission to the Legislature that was adopted by city council in two stages on May 27, 1991, and October 7, 1991.

In the submission contained in clause 85 of executive committee report number 24, you will find the main submission which incorporates a previous report, that is clause 58 of executive committee report number 12, which is at the end of that submission. There are two pieces of paper. The first one is the main submission and the second is an addendum.

The city of Toronto has now operated under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1989, for nine months. That experience has raised general questions about the operation of that act and the functions of the Information and Privacy Commissioner which are equally applicable to the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987. Hence, comment at this time seems appropriate.

Moreover, because the province has demonstrated a desire to keep both acts coincident and in fact has made them virtually identical, it is likely that changes in one will have an impact on the other. That possibility also encourages comment at this time by the city.

This submission makes 17 recommendations concerning the powers and duties of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, definitions in the act, the precise meaning and effect of certain sections, and the collection of fees. Really, these are just a beginning in terms of the need for correction to these acts. We do not see them as clear as has been expressed in comments that I have heard today at this committee.

The first set of things I would like to talk about are the powers and duties of the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Section 59 of the provincial act, or section 46 of the municipal equivalent, conveys various powers on the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Especially important are clauses 59(a), (b) and (c) which deal with protection of privacy generally. I will deal with each of those in turn.


Section 59 of the provincial act, or section 46 as the municipal equivalent, conveys various powers on the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Especially important are clauses 59(a), (b) and (c), which deal with protection of privacy generally. I will deal with each of those in turn.

The first deals with the power of the commissioner to comment on privacy protection. Clause 59(a) allows the Information and Privacy Commissioner to comment on privacy protection with respect to proposed government programs. The act does not contain a mechanism for an institution to seek comment. It also does not require the commissioner to comment.

If there is truly a desire to enhance privacy protection in proposed legislative schemes and government programs, surely institutions should have a right of comment and the commissioner should be obligated to reply. This would provide for rational planning and would avoid needless confrontation with respect to privacy issues.

Essentially, the comment of the Information and Privacy Commissioner would be analogous to a tax ruling or advice given in respect of conflict of interest. There are clearly precedents for such a process. For example, section 14 of the Members' Conflict of Interest Act, 1988 allows members to seek comment on conflict-of-interest questions.

It is therefore recommended that:

Clause 59(a) of the provincial act and clause 46(a) of the municipal version be amended such that institutions may seek comment on the privacy protection implications of proposed legislation and programs, and that the Information and Privacy Commissioner be obligated to respond to institutional requests for comment.

The second major issue deals with cessation of collection orders and the alleged investigation powers of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Clause 59(b), and 46(b) in the municipal equivalent, has been used in conjunction with clause 4(a) of the provincial act to justify investigations by the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner takes the view that he has the authority to conduct privacy investigations. He argues that this power is implied given the mandate of the agency, and the case law supports the implied power because it is a practical necessity to have such power to fulfil the mandate, although I note that he or a representative has appeared before this committee and asked for explicit power to investigate.

The city of Toronto does not accept this view. It is respectfully submitted that the function of the privacy commission is as an administrative tribunal which resolves disputes related to access to information and governmental collection of information. Its primary function is to act as a dispute resolution board in which disputing parties are heard. The method of hearing may be different than other administrative tribunals, but it has an analogous function.

Secondarily, the commissioner may offer advice on privacy protection, public education programs and the like. An investigation function seems both unnecessary and incongruent with the hearing function of the commissioner; however, if it is decided that an investigation function is deemed necessary, that it be given to another body which stands in an arm's-length relationship to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. There are analogues for this in the US, particularly over conflict-of-interest matters.

Having said that, the thrust of the act really indicates that the commissioner has hearing functions respecting appeals regarding access and complaints about privacy. Clause 59(b) is surely directed towards a complaints process related to collection of personal information. The complaint process should be clearly stated as is the access procedure. As well, the form of hearing should be specified.

It is recommended, therefore, that clause 59(b) of the provincial act and 46(b) of the municipal equivalent be amended to include a complaints process respecting collection of personal information, which includes defined time limits for initiating complaints, and that those subsections be amended to specify the hearing process after which the commissioner may make orders. As it is now, it is too general and it is not clear what it means.

Finally, in terms of the commissioner's power, we would like to comment on the power to authorize indirect collection of personal information.

Clause 59(c) of the provincial act and 46(c) of the municipal equivalent allow the commissioner to authorize indirect collection of personal information. The subsection does not provide a method for institutions to ask for authorization, although it implies that such requests will be made. It also does not require the Information and Privacy Commissioner to respond. Those subsections therefore should be amended to indicate clearly that institutions may apply in writing for such authorization, and the commissioner must respond in writing to such requests.

The second general area I would like to talk about is various definitions. Many terms in this act remain ambiguous or undefined. I would just like to talk about five terms, although when you pick up the act almost any word can be controversial. I would like to talk about five generally: "access," "collection," "legal authority," "public record" and "routine inspection."

"Access" is used throughout the act but it is not a defined term. Intuitively it is a right to see -- or "approach," if you will -- records. It is really about availability and should be defined as such. There is a problem in the act when you read the right to have a copy and the right of pre-existing access, which is embedded in these acts -- section 30 of the provincial act or section 23 of the municipal equivalent conveys a right of copying subject to certain restrictions to anyone who obtains access. But the right is not synonymous with access, although interpretations that I have heard have in fact treated them as such.

This is really important in light of what is called the pre-existing right of access, which is in subsection 63(2) of the provincial act and subsection 50(2) of the municipal act. This right allows access to records which do not include personal information which were available to the public by "statute, custom or practice." In the past in many municipal institutions, many records have been made available for inspection without a right of copy. If access is now seen to include copying, it will preclude the operation of the pre-existing right of access. Therefore we would suggest defining "access" as "the right to see records," but which "does not include the right to copy records."

The second major term that I think should be defined is "collection." Collection of personal information is a major issue in both these acts, but it is not defined. To collect means "to assemble, accumulate or bring together." It is an active state. To be sure, institutions initiate the gathering of much personal information. However, institutions often receive information that they have not sought out. Beyond this, collection by an institution should not be confused with collections by individuals who are employed by the institution. The institution should not be held accountable for collection of information which it has not authorized. "Collection," therefore, should be defined as follows: "assembling, accumulation or bringing together" of information, "but does not include such action by employees of an institution where such action has not been authorized by the institution."

The term "legal authority" also has not been defined. You have to state what the legal authority is for collection of personal information when you provide notice of it. What is it? We suggest making it clear that it is not only statutory authority but is "authority given by statute, bylaw, regulation or the common law."

The fourth definition is "public record." This is not actually a term used in the act, but we suggest it be added to the act. Section 37 of the provincial act and section 27 of the municipal equivalent indicate that the provisions respecting protection of privacy do not apply if the information "is maintained for the purpose of creating a record that is available to the general public." So an exemption for what might be termed "public record" does not specify how one is to determine if something is a public record. We suggest that that "public record" should be defined as "a record designated as public pursuant to statute, bylaw, resolution or regulation."

Finally, in the definitions we would like to discuss at this time is the definition of "routine inspection." The law enforcement exemption in both acts indicates that institutions must disclose reports "prepared in the course of routine inspections," but nowhere is a routine inspection defined. It is not exactly obvious what a routine inspection is. Is it routine if it is a regular inspection carried out at a specified time or time period? Is it routine if it is the usual requirement of an application process? Is it routine if it is the required response to complaints? We recommend defining "routine inspection" as "an inspection carried out at regular time intervals," but which "does not include inspections carried out pursuant to applications or complaints."


The next general sections I would like to deal with are sections that require clarification or change. One of these is the personal privacy exemption. There are two elements here we would like to talk about. One is the research element, which there was some discussion of by the previous speaker. The other is the meaning of public scrutiny.

Section 21 of the provincial act, or 14 of the municipal equivalent, deals with personal privacy. The intent of the section is to ensure that the information pertaining to identifiable individuals is not disclosed to anyone other than those individuals, except in certain circumstances. Clause 21(1)(e), or 14(1)(e), presents a very curious exception. It states, and I will read the first part of it:

"(1) A head shall refuse to disclose personal information to any person other than the individual to whom the information relates except,

"(e) for a research purpose, if,

"(i) the disclosure is consistent with the conditions or reasonable expectations of disclosure under which the personal information was provided, collected or obtained."

We submit that, with the exception of some contemporary data banks, the conditions in subclause 21(1)(e)(i) are impossible to meet. With personal information held in archives, it is seldom clear what were the conditions or reasonable expectations of disclosure under which the personal information was provided, collected or obtained. It is possible to ascertain in some cases. It is impossible in most. The logic of this section is such that it will allow disclosure if the information was acquired in a confidential fashion. The rest of the section is to allow researchers to have access, so long as they do not disclose the individual identifiers.

The logical outcome of this section is for the institution to treat all the information that it does not definitely know to have been for public consumption as confidential and to have researchers enter into research agreements. The effect on certain types of history may well be devastating. Political biography is a good example. This may in turn lead to a limiting of the ability of people to scrutinize government action.

Some have argued that this section really does not matter much, as it can be read to allow access to government materials because people would expect that such materials would end up in a publicly accessible archives. This position is surely untenable and does not reflect the wording of the act. If you took that position, you would not bother with research agreements; you would just release the information.

It is therefore recommended that this clause be clarified and that the clarification take place in consultation with professional history and social science associations.

The other part of this section we wanted to discuss was public scrutiny. Public scrutiny of government is one justification for allowing disclosure of personal information in clause 21(2)(a). The level or kind of public scrutiny is not elaborated. Which activities and which personal information should be opened in this regard should be codified. That is what we recommend. We recommend that institutions and the public be asked to make submissions with respect to that codification.

The other general area in terms of personal privacy is the public interest test. Section 23 of the provincial act forces disclosure where a compelling public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the purpose of the exemption. I realize there have been orders on this, but this really should be clarified. The problem is similar to that respecting public scrutiny. What will be seen as compelling? What will decide what is the public interest? There should be a definition achieved through a public consultation.

The last area I would like to talk about is fees. It is last but not least. Section 57 of the provincial act allows an institution to collect minimal fees. Section 45 of the municipal act requires collection of such fees. Neither allows collection of fees for analysis of requests which, of course, is the major cost. Both allow for specification of fee structure by regulation. This means a lack of flexibility in the setting of fees between institutions. The institutions should be allowed some discretion and so our last recommendation is that those sections be amended to allow institutions flexibility in setting of fees for processing applications.

That is it. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you. Any questions from members?

Mr Cooper: I would like to make a comment. I would like to thank you for this presentation. It is one of the more concise and specific presentations we have had.

The Chair: Thank you for coming this afternoon and making your presentation. You have given us something to go on here when it is our time to look at making recommendations to the Legislature. As you know, we have to table the report with recommendations on or before, I think, December 12, so we will make sure that both yourself and anyone who made a presentation here during these hearings will get a copy of that report.


The Chair: The next witness is from the Parents Empowering Parents. The chairman is Brenda Ryan. You have up to a half hour to make your presentation.

Mrs Ryan: My name is Brenda Ryan and I am the chairman of Parents Empowering Parents. We had the opportunity to speak to the committee in the early part of this year -- February, I believe -- so today I will be very brief.

When we made our original presentation we were unfamiliar with the protocol. Primarily what we did was present many questions without attempting to give any ideas around solutions. Today I will be very brief, and I think we may have some wonderful simplistic food for thought.

But before I give you that information I would like to go back one step, about three weeks ago, and give you an idea of the type of situation that we are dealing with, for those members who were not here when I spoke last.

I had a telephone call from a mother in Barrie, Ontario who had a child who was very ill, who physically had had numerous medical-surgical problems and had developed a mental health problem, probably as a result of trauma from surgery. This young lady needed treatment. The mother was attacked by the child, and the child was placed in a hospital, appropriately so. The hospital contacted the mother and had apparently decided that the appropriate step to take was to have the child placed in a foster home. This is a child who has had nine brain aneurysms, a stroke, 56 operations -- I have no idea what the prognosis of this child is -- and the child welfare agency had decided the appropriate step for this 13-year-old child was to take her away from her mother and place her in a foster home.

There were two members of Queen's Park whom I contacted to assist the mother and, quite frankly, I am absolutely thrilled that those members responded immediately and contacted the agencies involved and, I believe, the hospital or physician. Within 24 hours, the child welfare agency had suddenly changed its mind. We do not know why it happened, but it did.

The interesting point is, if the mother had not become politically active, that child would be abandoned in a foster home, possibly with a family -- as well meaning as it is -- which would have absolutely no information or idea on how to deal with a child with a brain shunt, who had psychiatric problems and who had had a stroke.

What we as an organization would very much appreciate this government doing is twofold. First, we strongly recommend that a commission be established to travel throughout the province to evaluate child-serving agencies, whether it is a child counselling agency for mental health, a child welfare agency, an educational agency or facility, or a health care centre.


The only legislation we are aware of regarding the freedom of information of children and the protection of privacy falls under the Child and Family Services Act, section 8, which I believe has never been enforced. It has never been acknowledged. As a layperson I can look at the legislation and see it written there, but it does not mean anything because it has not been accepted.

Our concern is that, generally speaking, the child welfare agencies and -- I have to be very careful; I use these words very carefully -- the service providers to people under the age of 16 in any area seem to be in an absolute and complete area of immunity to any sort of evaluation or justification. There is no committee to evaluate their service or their documentation style. There is no provincial watchdog or agency to address it.

Our organization would like to see a committee that would consist of two legal experts who have dealt with child-related issues. We would like to see this committee also have a minimum of one psychiatrist and one psychologist. We would like this committee to have two members of the social work field, hopefully with a master's degree or a PhD level in family systems -- not family blaming, not family assessing, but family systems: how does a family work, how does a family grieve and how does a family deal with a child with a difficult problem? Lastly, we would like to see this committee consist of at least two members of the community at large who have had exposure through a volunteer basis or a community basis dealing with and supporting or helping families.

I think if we were to have such a committee, and at the same time protected the privacy of children by deleting or whiting out their names, this committee could look around the province and evaluate what is happening to our children. We have a horrendous situation.

The five Ws have to be answered. Who is calling in these child welfare agencies? When are they calling them in? Why are they calling them in? What is being done? There is another W; I have forgotten which one it is. It will stimulate your thought for a while.

The point is, we have to go in with an open mind, not to attack anyone, to first of all acknowledge the areas where there has been superb treatment for some of these children. There have been some areas where families have had wonderful success in helping their children. We may not be able to document or come forward and give presentations in the usual format because, unlike any other agencies, we are not allowed to read or review the documents that are written on our children.

Children between the ages of 12 and 15 are in a unique area as well. The agencies are allowed to make absolute overriding decisions on their counselling or services and are not obligated to share this information with any other person. The concern we have as an organization is that we are not sure what is being documented, what is being understood and what is being misunderstood about our children. The only way we will be able to find that out is by having the services for children reviewed. They have to open up the files, not necessarily to the families, but they have to open up the files to someone to justify that the protection of privacy and freedom of information and dignity is given to children in Ontario.

I really do not have a lot more to say today. Since we presented our first statement back in February we have heard over and over and over again, almost on a weekly basis, of families in terrible situations dealing with this crisis. I do not want to repeat the same sort of sad, soppy stories that I told seven months ago, but I absolutely plead with you to please do something to evaluate what is happening, what is endangering the lives of our kids. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much indeed. It was another powerful presentation today, the same as in February. We will open up the floor to questions.

Mr Owens: I do have some familiarity with the story you related to the committee earlier. I think it is instructive for the committee to hear again part of the story you came to us with at your first appearance. I do not think it is a sad or a soppy story. I think there are some very good points that need to be made with respect to your two children, one of whom is now deceased, and the issue of when you finally were able to get your hands on some form of records, what exactly it was that you found contained within those records.

Mrs Ryan: I would be delighted. My eldest daughter became involved with child welfare agencies on June 24, 1979, when my child was literally ripped away from home. I actually was unable to have any information regarding any documentation or even a sense of what the child welfare agencies thought, felt, perceived, knew until September 1989, at which time I had approached the children's aid society on numerous occasions and asked them to review the file to find out what had been written and documented about my oldest child.

In September 1989, I read a few things in the document. Number one, there has been and there is a confession of sexual abuse which has never gone to court because my child was never well enough to testify. I also found out that this agency had known that this person had confessed and had not done anything, had not had the courtesy to take this issue to court to seek justice for a young lady.

I also discovered that my poor child was so disturbed that during the time she was involved with the child welfare agency, she had gone through not one, not two, but three abortions. This child was 15 years old. What kind of child has to have three abortions at 15? My daughter was very, very, very ill.

My youngest child was also very ill. I could not get service for her. I could not understand why I was not even being heard. Our family physician and a youth counselling service in our community were involved and very supportive. They attempted to have this child placed temporarily for protection herself in a child welfare facility until we could get her in psychiatric treatment, which she desperately needed. Not only did I not get that, but I was challenged and threatened that if I tried to do anything but obey them, I would be taken to court and found an unfit mother, at which time I suggested very strongly that they not hesitate for one moment, but that we would do it immediately.

I almost lost my second child. My second child was very ill for quite a number of years and eventually had to go out of province to get very intensive long-term treatment. I would like to finish my comment, Mr Owens, by saying that my daughter is back home. She is extremely healthy. She is an 87% average, I found out, as of today, and this is a child that prior going into treatment could not even learn. It is not an unusual story. These things are happening every day.


Mr Daigeler: I take it that your main concern is to carry out a review of the operation of the child care agencies in this province. Is that your main concern?

Mrs Ryan: That would be my secondary goal. My first goal is to amend the legislation so that the books can be opened when necessary. I do not think we need any more reviews. I think that virtually every member, if I was to have an opportunity to interview them, would have had a horror story in their own constituency.

Mr Daigeler: So you feel that you do not have proper access to the information that you would like to have access to.

Mrs Ryan: There is not a doubt in my mind that children in Ontario may not necessarily have the protection that we as an adult population feel they have, that what is happening to them when they are involved with a child care agency may not actually be in the best interest of that child, because every person --

Mr Daigeler: If I can go back to my question, you are saying you do not have access to information you think you should have access to. Is that the point?

Mrs Ryan: I know that not only I but no other family has access to the information.

Mr Daigeler: And you think you should.

Mrs Ryan: I know we should. I am sorry, but I am a fanatic about this. I have thought about it for 11 years. I now know and I now feel that my obligation to the children of Ontario is to be here before you today.

Mr Frankford: It is obviously a complex story. I was a family physician before I got into this, and I was wondering whether you have thought about or would advocate some sort of client-held record, a comprehensive file that would go with the individual, if it is a child, and be transferred around and also be open to the family.

Mrs Ryan: Oh, absolutely. I think it is a horrendous situation that the family physicians are involved with. Our organization of parents and children has heard almost unanimously from general practitioners of their frustration, the fact that as caring professionals involved with the whole family they will call a child welfare agency to seek assistance or support or answers and they are not always able to get them. I do not know of any general practitioner who is able to have a child welfare agency open a file so that the physician could deal with the child. Correct me if I am wrong. Do you know about that?

Mr Frankford: I certainly do not think one has any right of access, in my experience. If there is, it is well hidden.

Mrs Ryan: This has been the information we have had from virtually every source. We have gone to every possible symposium and conference and organization we can go to. We have opened our minds, we have opened our hearts, we have opened our souls to these people, to everyone, on behalf of the children, and there is this invisible barrier that seems to be there. The frustration is that we know the family physicians are just as upset as the families when they care about a family and their hands are tied.

Mr Frankford: Have you had any dealings with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and asked them their opinion on what should be on records or on patient files?

Mrs Ryan: We, as an organization, have not contacted the College of Physicians and Surgeons to ask them, but I do believe the college has prepared submissions. As a matter of fact, the Ontario College of Family Physicians wrote an article regarding the death of my child and they used that as an example of the frustrations the general practitioners are dealing with. I was given a copy of that. I believe the Ontario Association of Professional Social Workers did the same thing. I am really pleased that my daughter was able to help the people who do care and I was glad that I was able to see those copies, to know that there are professionals and service providers who feel as frustrated as we do as family members.

Mr Owens: Just so the committee is clear on the point you are trying to make, supposing the situation you had described earlier had played itself out as it would have without the intervention of two members. That means the child in need of psychiatric care, not foster care, would have been taken from the home and the parents would have had no further access to the child, no further access to the records, no continuing participation in the child's care?

Mrs Ryan: That is absolutely correct. Furthermore, there is nothing we are aware of documented in any way that a child welfare agency would even have to justify to any agency or any organization why it made the decision it made. I heard something interesting and I have wondered about it. Apparently the method of funding and forecasting for several agencies changes from year to year. I was told that back in 1979 when my child was ripped away from my arms, and she was, the only way the child welfare agencies during that time period could get decent funding was by actually taking a child into care. That if they were providing service to a child living with the family there were limited resources, but if they actually took the child they then could get the money that they wanted.

I am not going to suggest that they did not make a decision except on what even they may have thought was in the child's best interest. I do not want to say that. But I find it odd to suggest that if you apply program A you get nothing and if you apply program B you get the money.

Mr Owens: One of the questions I put to you the last time you were here, when I probably struggled through it as I am going to struggle through it now, is that out of your testimony I talked to you about establishing some kind of a panel outside the CAS to perhaps vet requests for information on children in their care. You have now talked about a task force to establish the standards of record-keeping. I understand that to be the gist of your recommendation. What, then, would be the final outcome of this commission? Why would we do this? With a view to doing what?

Mrs Ryan: Human nature being what it is, I honestly feel that if there was a task force established that would be able to review the history of events throughout the province over, say, the last 10 years even -- let's say 11 years and make it a nice round number -- then I think what will happen is that service providers will sharpen the pencil and be much more careful what is documented and how it is documented presently.

In addition, I think the province will be exposed to an absolute mess of injustices that have occurred to children over the last several years. That does not necessarily mean we have to expose it to lay blame, because I do not think blame belongs in a system for improvement. It just does not work. But I think if we look at it and we see where the mistakes were, then we will know. I think the committee of experts is a short-term solution to review a critical situation.

The last and the most important element is that there has to be input from the youth themselves at this task force.

Mr Owens: Absolutely.

Mrs Ryan: You know, I have heard it said off the record many, many, many times by service providers that, "We do things with kids on a one on one because, heaven forbid, they are all going to get bad ideas from one another." That may be true, but, you know, there are a lot of kids in Ontario, young adolescents, who are not troubled kids, who are very strong-willed kids, who are positive thinkers.

The young people of today will be the politicians of tomorrow, heaven forbid, and the doctors of tomorrow and the social workers of tomorrow and the construction workers and the police officers of tomorrow. So if they are going to be that tomorrow, why do we not let them play at being intelligent and appropriate and give them the respect and dignity and listen to them now? Maybe they have something worthwhile to say. Maybe they can help us, Steve. Maybe we do not have to make all of these decisions ourselves. I think a youth forum is really good.

The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Ryan, for coming along here again this afternoon and making another extremely powerful presentation to this committee. Believe me, your presentations both today and in February have not gone unnoticed to the committee members.

Mrs Ryan made some very useful suggestions. I suggest to the committee that we forward the transcript of the proceedings here this afternoon, especially Mrs Ryan's suggestions, to the appropriate ministers. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mrs Ryan: Thank you very much for the opportunity, but more than just thanking on my behalf, on behalf of the children I thank you.

The Chair: Seeing no further business this afternoon, the committee stands adjourned until October 16 at 3:30.

The committee adjourned at 1742.