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ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PRIVACY - Protection of privacy - Personal information

Monday, June 29, 2020 @ 9:41 AM  


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Appeal by the College from a decision of an applications judge ordering the appellant to provide the respondent with the name of a human resources officer who signed a vacation leave payment authorization. The respondent submitted an access to information request to the appellant relating to a vacation leave payout given to the interim president and vice-president academic of a college being operated by the appellant in Qatar. Although providing services to the college in Qatar, the interim president’s contract of employment was with the appellant. The respondent sought documents that showed the total hours or days that the interim president was paid in arriving at the calculated payout amount together with the names and signatures of the college personnel who approved the vacation leave payout. The appellant provided the relevant document containing the names of two of the three persons who signed the payment authorization but redacted the third name, the person designated as the human resources officer, claiming the identity of this person was personal information within the meaning of s. 30(1) of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Because the person was not an employee of the appellant, but a local hire employed by Qatar, though working within the appellant in Qatar, the provisions of the Act permitting disclosure of personal information relating to employees were not applicable. The appellant conceded that the other two persons who signed the document were employees of the appellant and hence their names were disclosed. The judge concluded that the human resources officer was to be regarded as an employee of the appellant within the meaning of ss. 2(e) and 30(2)(f) of the Act. The judge rejected the appellant’s evidence that it and the Qatar college were separate legal entities and that the comprehensive agreement between the appellant and Qatar was not reflective of the true relationship between the appellant and the Qatar campus.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. The applications judge did not err in determining that the humanresources officer in Qatar was an employee of appellant within the meaning of s. 2(e) of the Act. While the judge should not have concluded that the definition potentially encompassed even more than the ordinary or traditional meaning of an employee together with a person retained under a contract to perform services for a public body, he was justified in concluding from the words used that the definition was intended to be broad and did extend beyond traditional understandings of what an employee was. It would not be inconsistent with the purpose of the legislation to include within the concept of employee persons performing services for the public body, regardless of with whom their formal contract was, if those persons, in the performance of their functions, were regarded as part of the institutional structure of the public body with regard to the services they performed in carrying out the mandate of the public body.

College of the North Atlantic v. McBreairty, [2020] N.J. No. 109, Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal, J.D. Green, C.W. White and M.F. Harrington, June 3, 2020. Digest No. TLD-June292020001