This letter constitutes my Order in your appeal of the decision of the Ministry of Natural Resources (the "institution"), to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a record requested under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987, as amended (the "Act"). On January 5, 1990, the undersigned was appointed Assistant Commissioner and received a delegation of the power to conduct inquiries and make Orders under the Act.
On June 27, 1989, you wrote to the institution requesting access to:
Hunting licence check of [a named individual], [a named address]. Verify if above had an antlerless deer permit valid for wildlife management unit number 63, for the year 1988.
On July 17, 1989, the institution responded to your request by indicating that the existence of the requested record could not be confirmed or denied, pursuant to subsection 21(5) of the Act.
You subsequently wrote to this office to appeal the institution's decision. Notice of Appeal was given to you and to the institution on November 10, 1989.
As you know, when your appeal was received, an Appeals Officer was assigned to investigate the circumstances of the appeal and to attempt to mediate a settlement. The institution contacted the person named in your request (the "affected person") and he expressed the view that disclosure to you of information as to whether or not he had an antlerless deer permit would constitute an unjustified invasion of his personal privacy.
As settlement of the appeal could not be effected, notice that an inquiry was being conducted to review the decision of the head was sent to you (the "appellant"), to the affected person, and to the institution. All parties were invited to make representations. The institution has provided written representations and I have considered those representations in making this Order. Neither you nor the affected person made representations.
Before beginning my discussion of the specific issues arising in the appeal, I think it would be useful to outline the purposes of the Act as set out in section 1. Subsection 1(a) provides a right of access to information under the control of institutions in accordance with the principles that information should be available to the public and that necessary exemptions from the right of access should be limited and specific. Subsection 1(b) sets out the counter-balancing privacy protection purpose of the Act. This provides that the Act should protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by institutions, and should provide individuals with a right of access to their own personal information.
Further, section 53 of the Act provides that the burden of proof that a record, or a part thereof, falls within one of the specified exemptions in the Act lies with the head of the institution.