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Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 21-05

The applicant sought access to a Child Welfare Services file about his own child. The Department of Community Services (Department) provided the applicant with a package of responsive records. The applicant believed that the package received from the Department was missing four items. The Commissioner finds that the Department conducted an adequate search as required by s. 7(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act after conducting a second search, identifying the business areas searched, the individuals who conducted the search and providing an explanation for why the records did not exist. However, because the Department's file room was under overhaul for over three years, the Commissioner recommends that the Department complete the file room's overhaul within one year of the date of this review report. Read more...


NEWS RELEASE

For immediate release

April 12, 2021

Privacy Commissioner initiates investigation into potential breach of inmate privacy by an employee of the Department of Justice's Correctional Services

HALIFAX - Information and Privacy Commissioner Tricia Ralph has launched an investigation following a news report alleging that an employee of the Department of Justice's Correctional Services recorded a video of an inmate and shared it to a social media platform along with comments that included the sensitive personal information of the inmate. Read more...


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 21-04

The applicant requested video footage from the Department of Justice (Department) of an incident he was involved in while he was an inmate at a correctional facility. The Department withheld the footage in full, citing s. 15(1)(i) and (k) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) (harm to law enforcement). The Department also claimed additional exemptions based on the images contained within some of the video files. Any images that showed correctional facility staff or other public body staff were withheld on the basis of s. 15(1)(e) of FOIPOP. Any images that showed other inmates were withheld pursuant to s. 20(3)(b) of FOIPOP (personal information).

The Department made a decision to withhold the footage in full, contrary to the fundamental rule that records requested must be disclosed unless a specific and limited exemption applies. The Commissioner finds that the Department was not authorized to withhold the footage in full. The Commissioner also finds that the Department was not authorized to withhold the images of correctional facility staff pursuant to s. 15(1)(e). The Commissioner finds that the Department was authorized to withhold images of other inmates pursuant to s. 20(3)(b). Finally, the Commissioner finds that the Department met its duty to assist the applicant by conducting an adequate search for the requested records. The Commissioner recommends the Department disclose the video footage to the applicant severing only the images of other inmates. Read more...


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 21-03

The applicant made a request to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) under Part XX of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) for records relating to CBRM employment contracts, detailed employee expenses and CBRM dealings with other organizations related to the Port of Sydney. The CBRM issued a fee estimate. The applicant requested a review of the fee estimate as well as the CBRM's refusal to waive it. 

The Commissioner finds that the CBRM has not met its duty to assist and has not calculated the fee estimate fairly and accurately. The Commissioner recommends that the CBRM waive the fee in its entirety. Read more...


Information and Privacy Commissioner releases Review Report 21-02

NSCAD University (NSCAD) did not issue decisions in response to two access to information requests to the applicant within the legislated time period required by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP). The applicant appealed to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (OIPC). The cause of the delay appears to initially have been because NSCAD did not have processes in place to receive mail due to the impacts of COVID-19 on its operations. Once it received the access to information requests, NSCAD provided no rationale for why it did not respond to the applicant within the statutory time frame. The Commissioner finds that NSCAD is in violation of s. 7 of FOIPOP and recommends that the decisions be issued within 30 days and appropriate processes be put in place to respond to its access to information obligations. Read more...


Amended procedure for access to information reviews - effective January 1, 2021

Effective January 1, 2021, the OIPC is implementing an amended procedure for reviews where information has been withheld pursuant to an exemption under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP), Part XX of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) or the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA). The procedure applies only to reviews where information has been withheld in part or in full under an exemption. It does not apply to time extensions, deemed refusals, fees, transfers, search or privacy complaint reviews.

The new procedure can be found here: Guide to Review Process. All parties should ensure they understand the amended procedure for any new reviews they are a party to, starting on January 1, 2021. Any file from the backlog that is assigned to an investigator starting January 1, 2021 will be processed using this amended procedure.

The major change in the amended procedure is that representations will be required at the outset of the investigation stage. This is changed from the current practice where representations could be provided during any stage of the process, with the final and most typically used time being upon notification of formal review. There will now only be one opportunity to provide representations at the outset of the process, unless a party is asked for further information from the investigator or the Commissioner at a later stage. Parties should plan to meet their respective burdens during their one opportunity to provide representations.


The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia supports the International Conference of Information Commissioners' (ICIC) public statements concerning public bodies' obligations regarding access to information requests during a global pandemic. Read the full statements below:


Nova Scotia's Information and Privacy Commissioner's statement on COVID-19

Nova Scotia's access and privacy laws are designed to protect people's privacy but also to share information where public bodies determine that compelling circumstances exist that affect anyone's health or safety.  Read more...


New/Updated Publications Now Available

Connaissez vos droits - Comment faire une demande efficace d'accès à l'information

Guide du processus d'examen en cas de non-communication partielle ou totale de l'information en vertu d'une exemption

Know Your Rights: Withheld (or Severed) Information

Know Your Rights: How to Make a Privacy Complaint

Guide to Review Process

Consultation Request Guidelines (for public bodies, municipalities and health custodians)

Consultation Request Form (for public bodies, municipalities and health custodians)