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Wrapping Up Right to Know Week 2019

In case you missed Right to Know Week or want to re-live the intrigue, you can watch the engaging panel discussion here: Democracy in Action: The Future of Your Right to Know

See how the provincial government's published access to information numbers are trending over time: NS Access to Information Trends

Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 19-08

The applicant sought information relating to suicide or mental health episodes on two local bridges over a ten year period.  Halifax Harbour Bridges refused to disclose any information in response to the request because it claimed disclosure of the information could threaten the safety or mental or physical health of vulnerable individuals.  The Commissioner determines that the evidence supports withholding certain specific details about individual incidents.  However, some withheld information could be disclosed without creating a reasonable expectation of harm.  The Commissioner recommends that Halifax Harbour Bridges disclose statistical information that describes the public body's responses to incidents on the bridges.  Read more...

Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 19-07

Nova Scotia's access to information law is intended to both protect personal privacy and promote transparency and accountability.  The law includes rules on how to evaluate the balance between these two interests.  With respect to performance-based payments to municipal employees, the law makes clear that the balance falls in favour of accountability and transparency.  The public has the right to know the amount of bonuses paid to individuals even though the disclosure reveals personal information of those individual employees.  In this case, the Halifax Regional Municipality ignored an essential provision of the Municipal Government Act - s. 480(4).  The Commissioner finds that s. 480(4) of the Act applies and so disclosure of performance-based payments to municipal employees would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of any third party's personal privacy under the law.  The Commissioner therefore recommends that Halifax Regional Municipality disclose the amount of yearly bonuses paid to non-union employees.  Read more...

Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 19-06

The applicant has been waiting almost five years for an open, accurate and complete response to his access to information request.  The responses he received thus far have convinced the applicant that the Department of Energy and Mines is actively hiding information and is using the access to information process not to promote transparency but rather to thwart his right to know.  The Commissioner finds that the Department's responses so far have included excessive fees, numerous unauthorized time delays, over-severing unsupported by any evidence and a failure to process clearly responsive documents.  The Commissioner recommends that the Department reprocess the entire access to information request with few if any allowable exemptions.  The Commissioner further recommends that the Department refund the applicant's fee.  Read more...


For immediate release

June 5, 2019

25 Years of Access and Privacy Service - Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner releases 2018-2019 Annual Report

HALIFAX - Today, Catherine Tully, Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner, released her annual report for 2018-2019.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.  With the rapid development of technology and its capacity to process enormous volumes of information, particularly personal information, a watchdog for access to information and privacy rights has never been more necessary.  Read more...

​Link to: OIPC 2018-2019 Annual Report

Editorial by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia

Citizen Surveillance, Street Checks and the Right to Privacy

Time to Celebrate! ​Did you know that 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the OIPC providing impartial oversight of our access and privacy laws?  Over the last 25 years, our office has been committed to ensuring that you are able to exercise your right to access government information and that your right to privacy is protected.  These rights are recognized throughout the world as being essential to democracy!  Throughout the year we will be celebrating our silver anniversary by:

  • ​Sharing stories of Nova Scotians who have experienced firsthand how freedom of information laws contribute to a more democratic society.
  • Publishing duty to assist guidelines for public bodies and municipalities on topics such as communication with applicants, searching for records, calculating and waiving fees, writing decisions and more!  

Stay tuned for these exciting updates and more by checking out our          25th Anniversary page or signing up to our mailing list.  We can't wait to celebrate with you all!

Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Upholds Commissioner's Decision

In a decision released January 11, 2019, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal determined that a decision by the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding the scope of her jurisdiction was reasonable.  The appeal centered around whether or not the Commissioner has jurisdiction to hear an appeal where the applicant seeks answers to questions rather than access to records.  The Commissioner determined that she does not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal where there is no request for access to records at issue.

The Court of Appeal states, "...the Commissioner's interpretation of the applicable provisions of the MGA was reasonable.  Indeed, I am satisfied it was the only reasonable interpretation."  A copy of the Court of Appeal decision is available here.  A copy of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court decision which also upheld the Commissioner's decision is available here.  

News Release

For Immediate Release

January 15, 2019

Privacy Commissioner's investigation determines that a serious failure of due diligence led to Freedom of Information Access website privacy breaches

HALIFAX - Information and Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully issued her investigation report today into a series of privacy breaches that plagued the Freedom of Information Access (FOIA) website in the spring of 2018.  The Commissioner determines that the immediate cause of the privacy breaches was a design flaw in the FOIA website. The flaw was created by a well-known and foreseeable vulnerability that was not detected by the Department of Internal Services (Department) prior to launching the FOIA website.  Ultimately, the privacy breaches were preventable and were caused by a serious failure of due diligence in the deployment of a new technology tool.  Read more...

IR19-01 Update on Recommendation Implementation - August 13, 2019

Investigation Report IR19-01

Letter to Premier and Ministers of Justice & Municipal Affairs - Modernization of Acts

Questions Nova Scotians May Want to Ask

Response to Review Report 18-05

Review Report 18-05 indicated we would publish the Department's response to the recommendations made by the Commissioner.  The response is available here.

Letter from Department of Health and Wellness

Canada's Access to Information and Privacy Guardians Call for Privacy Regulation and Oversight of Political Parties

Regina, SK, September 17, 2018​ - In a joint resolution, Canada's Information and Privacy Ombudspersons and Commissioners have called on governments to pass legislation requiring political parties to comply with globally recognized privacy principles, to provide Canadians with access to the personal information they hold about them, and to provide for independent oversight to verify and enforce privacy compliance.                   Read more... / Communiqué

Joint Resolution: Securing Trust and Privacy in Canada's Electoral Process / Assurer la confiance et la confidentialité dans le processus électoral du Canada

Responses to Investigation Reports IR18-01 and IR18-02

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia has received responses to the recommendations made in investigation reports IR18-01 and IR18-02 from the Department of Health and Wellness and Sobeys National Pharmacy Group.  A summary of those responses and copies of the letters received are provided below.

IR18-01 Update on Recommendation Implementation - August 1, 2019

IR18-02 Update on Recommendation Implementation - June 10, 2019 

DHW Response to IR18-01 updated October 31, 2018

Letter from Department of Health and Wellness

Letter from Sobeys National Pharmacy Group

New/Updated Publications Now Available

Know Your Rights Glossary: Review Request Terms

Guidelines - PHIA Disclosures to Researchers (s. 57)

PHIA Disclosure to Researcher Notification Form (s. 57)

Reporting Breaches Guide - s. 70 of Personal Health Information Act

Breach Notification Form to Report Under s. 70 of Personal Health Information Act

Duty to Assist #4 - How to Calculate Fees

Duty to Assist #3 - Third Party Notice 

Duty to Assist #2 - Conducting an Adequate Search

Duty to Assist #1 - Communication with Applicants

Personal Health Information Act - Privacy Impact Assessment Template