The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requires that the Ontario government protect the personal information of individuals, and sets out a process whereby people and institutions can request access to government-held information. Under FIPPA, an individual’s personal information can only be disclosed with their consent or where that information does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy. Along with most government agencies and ministries, FIPPA applies to administrative tribunals in Ontario, including the Human Rights Tribunal, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Landlord and Tenant Board.
The Toronto Star Newspaper is relying on the freedom of expression guarantee contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to challenge the application of FIPPA to fourteen tribunals in Ontario, including the three mentioned above. The Star’s argument is that the freedom of expression and freedom of the press requires that the public have access to administrative tribunal records as the default. At issue is the protection of the privacy of personal medical records of low-income and marginalized persons (including social assistance recipients) who access various administrative tribunals such as the Social Benefits Tribunal, the Human Rights Tribunal and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, and the chilling effect that public access to information could have on their ability and willingness to access their legal rights before these tribunals.
ISAC, ARCH and HALCO were granted intervener status as a coalition in this case, and ISAC took the lead in preparing the coalition’s factum, which can be found here: CV - 17569061 - ARCH HALCO ISAC - Interveners Factum - Toronto Star V AG.
The hearing will be held on April 4-6, 2018 at the Superior Court of Justice, 130 Queen Street West, Courtroom 6, commencing at 10 am.
ISAC will be presenting oral argument for the coalition.