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Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
January 31, 2011

The Information and Privacy Commissioner Comments on the Release of the Review
of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act by
Commissioner John Cummings, Q.C.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Ed Ring was pleased to see that the first statutory review of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) has now been completed, culminating in the release of a report on January 26 by Review Commissioner John Cummings, Q.C.

“I am very pleased by the comprehensive nature of this review,” said Commissioner Ring. “Mr. Cummings was charged with reviewing a complex piece of legislation, and the comments throughout his report as well as the recommendations themselves demonstrate a well-considered and insightful end product.”

Commissioner Ring further indicated that he is pleased that a number of Mr. Cummings recommendations mirror those proposed by the Commissioner’s Office itself. “I am very hopeful that Minister Collins will examine these recommendations with a view to amending the ATIPPA at the earliest opportunity, so that the people of the Province can benefit from a number of the positive changes proposed,” he said. Commissioner Ring’s submission to the ATIPPA review can be found here //www.oipc.nl.ca/pdf/OIPC_ATIPPA_Final_Review_Submission.pdf 

Commissioner Ring indicated that he does not plan to issue a detailed response to the review at this time, however he intends to highlight a few concerns to Minister Collins for consideration prior to any final decisions being made about amending the Act.

“I look forward to some fruitful dialogue with the Minister and his officials as they move closer to crafting amendments to the ATIPPA. Although we expect to win some and lose some in a review such as this, there will likely be a few items we will want to emphasize and focus on in further discussions with the department. One of these relates to a matter which is currently the subject of an appeal by my Office to the provincial Court of Appeal relating to the ability of this Office to review records for which there has been a claim of solicitor-client privilege. Currently, I am the only Commissioner of an access to information statute in Canada with no ability to review such records, as determined by a recent ruling at the Trial Division. Without that ability, the accountability and transparency promised by the ATIPPA must be considered inferior to that which is enjoyed by Canadians in other jurisdictions. I believe that solicitor-client privilege is a right which can be balanced with the twin principles of transparency and accountability, as all three are essential underpinnings of our democracy.”

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Media contact:
Ed Ring
Information and Privacy Commissioner

2011 01 31                                                        10:05 a.m.

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