Order 98-003: Summary
DATE: February 12, 1998
PUBLIC BODY: Alberta Family and Social Services
FOIP REQUEST: A request was received by Family and Social Services (F&SS) for access to the applicant's personal information in the applicant's child welfare and foster care records. Because the request involved a large volume of records (about 2100 pages), F&SS had assisted the applicant in narrowing the request. F&SS disclosed all of the records it found that were responsive to the applicant's revised request, subject to some severing. However, the applicant was not given two "Review of Child's Progress" reports that the applicant was confident existed. The applicant asked the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the adequacy of the search.
ISSUES: The applicant submitted that F&SS had not conducted an adequate search for records that the applicant was certain existed, and therefore had not met its duty to assist the applicant, as required by the FOIP Act (section 9). The applicant also suggested that F&SS may have intentionally destroyed the reports to avoid embarrassment. F&SS submitted that it had conducted an adequate search but had not found the two reports. F&SS also submitted that it was unlikely the two reports were destroyed under its records retention schedule, which requires that such records be kept for 100 years from the date the file is closed, and that the two reports may never have existed.
DECISION AND REASONS:
- The Commissioner found that F&SS conducted an adequate search for the two reports. He accepted that F&SS had searched for records responsive to the applicant's request according to the procedure it had been using to locate records for the past 12 or 13 years. The Commissioner also accepted that F&SS had retrieved the records responsive to the applicant's request, gone through them page by page, twice, and had not located the reports.
The Commissioner concluded that an adequate search had been conducted but asked F&SS to go back and review any other information that might be relevant and provide that information to the applicant.
SECTOR: Government - Departments