U of T responds to the Information and Privacy Commissioner



    TORONTO, May 13 /CNW/ - The Information and Privacy Commissioner has
mis-stated the position taken by the University of Toronto in a recent case
involving records belonging to Victoria University, a separately controlled
and managed institution.
    The University of Toronto is fully committed to the principles of
openness and transparency set out in the Freedom of Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (the Act). Neither the President of the University of Toronto
nor the President of Victoria University has any objection to bringing
Victoria University under the Act. Rather, the issue at hand is that the
University of Toronto has no authority to access the records of a separate and
independent institution such as Victoria University. They are neither in its
custody nor its control. The University of Toronto is not the conduit to these
records.
    The records in question are records about the United Church archives. The
University of Toronto has nothing to do with the United Church archives and it
has never even seen the records. They were and are the exclusive
responsibility of Victoria University, which is - notwithstanding its
affiliation with the University of Toronto - separately governed and managed,
and has its own assets, employees and records.
    If the Government wishes the Act to cover Victoria University it can do
so simply by adding Victoria University to a list of covered institutions by
regulation to the legislation. The University repeatedly made this point to
the IPC in its submissions.
    Contrary to the Commissioner's views, the University of Toronto would be
derelict in its duty if it did not bring the legal issue in this case to the
courts for review. Judith Wolfson, Vice-President, University Relations: "In
following the Commissioner's Order, the University would have to make
decisions regarding records it has never seen, and that are within the
exclusive control of an independent entity. This outcome, quite apart from the
question of its legality, would lead to significant increases in costs, would
be inefficient, and would undermine the very principles that underlie the
Act."
    Ironically, the University of Toronto and the IPC agree on two
fundamental points:
    First, we agree with the principles of openness and transparency and that
the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act should cover Victoria
University.
    Second, we agree that litigation in this matter would be a waste of
resources. It is unfortunate that the IPC has created this impasse by issuing
and reissuing an Order that we cannot legally follow.
    The University is disappointed that the Commissioner has chosen to use
such inappropriate and inaccurate language to describe a legal position, taken
in good faith, and in the best interests of the University and the principles
underlying the legislation. Contrary to the Commissioner's suggestion, the
University of Toronto was never given the opportunity to engage in mediation,
and while we remain open to all efforts towards a resolution, we have been
left with no choice but to seek the assistance of the courts in reviewing a
fundamentally flawed decision.





For further information:

For further information: Laurie Stephens, Director of Media Relations
and Stakeholder Communications, (416) 978-2105, laurie.stephens@utoronto.ca

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