Today’s article should be of interest to anyone who applies the mandatory third party exemption in section 17(1) of FIPPA (or its equivalent in section 10(1) of MFIPPA) to purchase agreements, service agreements, and supporting documents such as the records of discussions surrounding decisions to purchase products and/or services.
The Divisional Court of Ontario recently unanimously affirmed a decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPCO) describing how the mandatory third party exemption in section 17(1) of FIPPA applies to information supplied by a vendor during the procurement process and to the resulting service agreement itself.
[A]n unidentified individual has filed an FOI request with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) for the following information:
“List of all Ontario businesses with a Farm Business Registration. If possible I would like their FBR number as well, but at the very least, I just need the names of the businesses that are registered.”
The affected person process is one of the most important and visible ways that FIPPA and MFIPPA balance the public’s right of access against the rights of individuals and organizations to prevent the disclosure of their personal and confidential information. Other names for the process include the “notice to affected person” process, “third party notice” process, the “affected third party” process, and the “affected third person” process.
In Ontario, both the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) contain special provisions regarding labour and employment information which often have the effect of giving institutions the option (or in some cases, an obligation) to refuse to disclose such information to requestors.