Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner
News Release: IPC affirms government authority to refuse access to records containing Cabinet confidence and policy advice
Tue, Jan 22, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 22, 2019
IPC affirms government authority to refuse access to records containing Cabinet confidence and policy advice
WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) has completed an Inquiry into a complaint that the Department of Community Services was wrong to refuse access to some information requested by an applicant. Diane McLeod-McKay found that the Department was correct in refusing access to some portions of government records, because they contained matters of Cabinet confidence and advice from government staff.
In November 2017, the applicant asked the Department of Community Services for records regarding the work performance or behaviour of the applicant in interactions with four Community Services staff. Later that month, the Department provided all the relevant records to the applicant, which included emails and draft communications plans. However, it had redacted some portions of the records, based on sections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act). These sections provide exceptions that authorize public bodies to refuse access to information revealing matters of Cabinet confidence, advice developed by or for a public body or minister, or consultations/deliberations relating to a government decision or policy.
In her Inquiry Report, McLeod-McKay cited portions of a Supreme Court of Canada decision, which said that Cabinet confidence is essential to good government. The court decision went on to say that “those charged with the heavy responsibility of making government decisions must be free to discuss all aspects of the problems that come before them and to express all manner of views, without fear that what they read, say or act on will later be subject to public scrutiny.”
McLeod-McKay did find that the department should share the names of the employees in the government records, because the names are not covered by the exceptions in the ATIPP Act.
In making this finding, the IPC said that it is generally not an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy to disclose employee names which appear in records as a result of carrying out their employment responsibilities.
The Department accepted the IPC’s recommendations.
View the full Inquiry Report for additional information.
Diane McLeod-McKay, B.A., J.D.
Information and Privacy Commissioner