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Manitoba Ombudsman releases six FIPPA investigation reports to acknowledge Right to Know Week 2015

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Sep 30, 2015

In recognition of national Right to Know Week, September 28 to October 2, Manitoba Ombudsman has posted six new investigation reports under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) on its website. Right to Know raises awareness of a person’s democratic right of access to government-held information and promotes the benefits of open, accessible, and transparent government.

“We selected these six access-related reports for a purpose,” said Manitoba Ombudsman Charlene Paquin. “Each report raises different issues that were encountered by applicants in the course of making their FIPPA requests. The outcome of these cases – how these issues were handled – will be of interest to any person wanting to access government records and to public bodies that must respond to these requests.”

The six FIPPA investigation reports include:

Case 2014-0040:  An individual submitted an application to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation requesting access to construction progress reports. Initially, the department refused access in full to the records on the basis that the disclosure would be harmful to third party business interests and harmful to legal proceedings. As a result of our investigation, the public body issued a revised response to the individual enclosing the requested records with minimal information redacted. In addition, the public body also relied on exceptions in FIPPA to withhold personal information about individuals on the basis that disclosure would be an unreasonable invasion of privacy. We found that the remaining withheld information was subject to the cited exceptions.    

Case 2014-0409: An individual requested access to financial estimates and statements for each provincial park district for the years 1999/2000 through 2014/2015. Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship responded to the individual, granting access to some of the information requested and advised that other information was either not available in the format requested or not available at all. The complainant believed that the department was required to prepare and maintain such information pursuant to The Provincial Parks Act and that the information should be available, regardless of format. We partly supported the complaint.

Case 2014-0560: In response to an access request under FIPPA, the Pembina Trails School Division created a financial statement for the individual. The individual was not satisfied with the document and, believing that there was more information responsive to her request, filed a complaint of refusal of access with our office. Our review determined that the school division had complied with her request and provided the relevant information.

Case 2015-0019: An individual requested records from Manitoba Justice regarding the place of birth of a deceased person whose estate had transferred to the Manitoba government. Manitoba Justice refused to confirm or deny the existence of records regarding the place of birth of the deceased, specifically the name of the city in which the deceased was born. We found that the department was authorized to make this decision and that it did not act unreasonably in exercising its discretion to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of records.        

Case 2015-0041: An individual requested access to a copy of an agreement including any tariff schedules between the Manitoba government and the Manitoba Chiropractors Association (MCA). Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors consulted with the MCA about the request and initially refused access in full. In the course of our investigation, the department provided partial access to the agreement, severing some information that it believed would be harmful to a third party’s business interests. We found that one of the claimed exceptions did apply. (After this investigation concluded, the Manitoba government amended the Chiropractic Services Insurance Regulation, making the amount of the benefit for insured chiropractic services publicly available.)

Case 2015-0045: An individual requested access to a copy of Winnipeg School Division By-law No. 1018 as well as any other documentation relating to the establishment and adjudication of the Disability Income Plan for Officers and Employees (Other Than Teachers) of the Winnipeg School Division. The school division provided a copy of By-law No. 1018 but did not initially provide the other items requested or provide information as to how they may be obtained. We partly supported the complaint.

FIPPA investigation reports can be found at:

https://www.ombudsman.mb.ca/documents_and_files/investigation-reports.html

Manitoba Ombudsman is the access and privacy oversight office for The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and The Personal Health Information Act (PHIA).