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Freedom of Information

Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information
Expertise / Practices / Privacy & Data Protection / Freedom of Information

The federal Access to Information Act and corresponding provincial freedom of information legislation provide a right of access to information held by government institutions, subject to certain exceptions. The same provincial legislation and the federal Privacy Act protect personal information collected by certain public-sector organizations. Private-sector privacy legislation across Canada also provides rights of access to individuals’ own personal information.
Blakes privacy lawyers represent requesters, third parties that have provided confidential information to government, and municipal, provincial and federal government institutions. We advise on a full range of freedom of information and privacy protection issues, including rights of access and correction, exemptions from disclosure, and rules relating to the collection, retention, use, disclosure and disposal of personal information. 

Both commercial parties and public authorities come to Blakes for guidance on freedom of information legislation. Blakes lawyers frequently assist business clients when responding to access to information requests for documents related to their business that are in the government’s possession. Blakes also represents both media and corporate clients requesting information from the government and in access to information litigation. Our litigators have argued many of the leading access to information cases, handled investigations and appeals before the federal and provincial Information and Privacy Commissioners, and represented clients at all levels of courts in Canada, including the Supreme Court of Canada and the federal and provincial courts of appeal. Clients also seek our advice in drafting and interpreting contractual provisions concerned with the application of freedom of information legislation and on the potential implications of providing confidential information to government.
Blakes lawyers also offer clients guidance on compliance matters involving the application of privacy and data protection legislation and responses to privacy-related complaints.  

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Recent Experience
  • The applicant in successfully challenging the constitutionality of freedom of information legislation that limited access to tribunal records (Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd. v. Ontario).

  • The requester/respondent in appeals clarifying the scope of “personal information” under provincial freedom of information legislation and establishing access to names of doctors billing the public health-care plan (Boyle v. Ontario Medical Association et al.).

  • The appellant in the leading case establishing the scope of the exemption protecting confidential third-party commercial information from disclosure (Merck Frosst Canada Ltd. v. Canada (Health)).

  • The interveners in the decision defining when information is in the “control” of a government institution and, thus, subject to access rights (Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Minister of National Defence)).

  • Several interveners in the decision defining the scope of the public interest override (Ontario (Public Safety and Security) v. Criminal Lawyers’ Association).