Order F2003-016: Summary
DATE: November 7, 2003
PUBLIC BODY: Alberta Justice
FOIP REQUEST: The applicant requested access to all records of Alberta Justice's investigation into the applicant's claims of harassment and unfair employment practices, as well as any records containing allegations that the applicant behaved inappropriately. Justice released 95 pages of records but severed or withheld 96 pages. These records consisted of Justice's investigation report, transcripts of interviews conducted by the investigative panel and Justice's response to a Human Rights complaint. The applicant asked the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review Justice's decision to withhold these records.
ISSUES: Justice submitted that the records could be withheld under the FOIP Act because disclosure would reveal advice given to Ministry officials (section 24(1)(a)) and consultations or deliberations involving officers or employees of the Ministry (section 24(1)(b)(i)). Justice also submitted that disclosure of the some of the records would be an unreasonable invasion of personal information of third parties (section 17(1)).
DECISION AND REASONS:
- Citing Order 96-006, the Adjudicator found that Justice correctly applied the exception to disclosure for advice to officials (section 24(1)(a)) to the investigation report. The report was prepared by an investigation panel to advise the Assistant Deputy Minister on how to handle the complaint. Justice properly exercised its discretion as it released most of the report and withheld only a small portion.
- The Adjudicator found that section 24(1)(a) did not apply to a summary of Justice's decision regarding the complaint. Referring to Order 96-012, the Adjudicator noted that the exception for advice to officials is meant to protect records created during the decision-making process, not information generated after the decision has been made.
- Citing Order 96-006, the Adjudicator found that section 24(1)(b)(i) applied to the records containing views and deliberations of employees of Justice about whether a suggested course of action to deal with the complaint was appropriate.
- The Adjudicator found that disclosure of the records of the interviews with Justice employees and the report based on these interviews would be an unreasonable invasion of the privacy of third parties (section 17). The names of third parties appeared with other personal information (section 17(4)(g)). That the third parties had been told the investigation report would be confidential was a relevant circumstance weighing against disclosure (section 17(5)(f)). The applicant's own personal information was so intertwined with the third-party information that it could not reasonably be severed.
Alberta Justice was ordered to release one page of records.
SECTOR: Government - Departments