Ontario/IPC affirms fee estimate for retrieval of e-mails from backup

On July 12th, the IPC/Ontario affirmed a $5,490 fee estimate for a request that would entail retrieving e-mails from backup tapes.

Our provincial FOI legislation allows institutions to recover 100% of the “costs, including computer costs, that [an] institution incurs in locating, retrieving, processing and copying [a] record if those costs are specified in an invoice that the institution has received.” In this matter, the IPC held that a quote constitutes an “invoice” for the purpose of this allowance. It upheld the institution’s sizable fee estimate while noting that the nature of the request – aimed at gaining access to deleted e-mails – required the institution to use an external vendor.

E-FOI made the legal news this week after United States District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin issued a decision with strong statements against the adequacy of self-collection under American FOI law. In Ontario at least, paper production strikes a convenient balance that the user pay presumption in our FOI law and decisions like this one seem to keep in place.

Toronto Community Housing Corporation (Re), 2012 CanLII 40549 (ON IPC).