Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

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March 6, 2003

The RCMP Commissioner was ordered to disclose a list of RCMP members' historical postings, their status and date; the list of ranks and the dates they achieved those ranks; their years of service; and their anniversary dates of service. These are all elements that relate to the general characteristics associated with the position or functions of an RCMP member. They do not reveal anything about their competence or divulge any personal opinion given outside the course of employment -- rather, they provide information relevant to understanding the functions they perform.

This case explores the scope of government employees' "personal information" that can be released under the Privacy Act. The list of examples provided in s. 3(j) is not exhaustive and certainly does not limit the application of the introductory paragraph to the current position held by an employee or to the last position occupied by an employee now retired. Nevertheless, s. 3(j) does have a specified scope, as the information must be related to the position or functions held by a federal employee. This will exclude information relating, for example, to the competence and characteristics of the employee. Section 3(j) should apply only when the information requested is sufficiently related to the general characteristics associated with the positions or functions held by an officer or employee of a federal institution. It is both artificial and unhelpful to attempt to distinguish between "information about a person" and "information about the position or functions." Section 3(j) applies when the information -- which is always linked to the individual -- is directly related to the general characteristics associated with the position or functions held by an employee, without the objective or subjective nature of that information being determinative.

See: Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)

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