Case Report – Divisional Court addresses meaning of “correctional record” in FIPPA

On December 8th, the Divisional Court affirmed the IPC/Ontario’s interpretation of “correctional record” as a record pertaining to sentenced inmates, not remanded inmates.

The Court held that the IPC was reasonable to assign “correctional” its ordinary meaning in the section 42(e) exemption for correctional records containing information supplied in confidence. It held this interpretation was within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes in light of (1) the express language giving “correctional” an expanded meaning in other Ontario statutes, (2) other language in FIPPA that addresses an alleged risk posed by the ordinary meaning construction and (3) the openness-favoring purpose of FIPPA.

This is confined in its significance to the interpretation of section 42(e) and is otherwise a standard of review and statutory interpretation case. The Court did make the following notable comment on how to construe exemptions in freedom of information legislation: “[The call for a purposive analysis] does not mean that a strict interpretation by itself with respect to exemptions in privacy statutes [sic] endows the interpretation with reasonableness.”

Ontario (Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services) v. Ontario (Information and Privacy Commissioner), [2009] O.J. No. 5455 (S.C.J.) (QL).

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