Canadian Supreme Court Backs Ontario Commissioner

2 May 2014

The Supreme Court of Canada April 24 upheld an 2009 order by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian instructing the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to disclose statistical information on the first three characters of Ontario postal codes (FSAs) and the number of registered sex offenders living in each FSA. 

The unanimous decision states, “As an expert in privacy rights, as well as in access to information requests, the Commissioner’s decisions deserve deference.”

“What this means is that a ‘trust me’ model will no longer suffice: institutions must now demonstrate a reasonable expectation of probable (not possible) harm, which must be based on something other than a mere belief,” said Cavoukian.

Cavoukian commented, “It is truly unfortunate how many years and resources have been wasted on this pursuit.”  

She said the ruling strengthens her findings in a report “Crossing the Line: The Indiscriminate Disclosure of Attempted Suicide Information to U.S. Border Officials via CPIC,” that recommends that Ontario police services cease the routine disclosure of suicide-related information.

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