OMAFRA reaches FOI decision

OMAFRA reaches FOI decision
Aug 11, 2020

The Ministry will release names of businesses with a Farm Business Registration (FBR), but withhold the FBR numbers

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

OMAFRA has reached a decision regarding the Freedom of Information (FOI) request from an unnamed party.

The request asked for Farm Business Registration (FBR) numbers, names of businesses, and contact information for those farms in the province with an FBR from March 1, 2019 to Feb. 28, 2020. 

OMAFRA “has decided to withhold the FBR number information and release the business name portion of the record,” stated an August 11 letter from Lee-Ann Walker, assistant deputy minister in the research and corporate services division of the ministry. Farmers who contacted OMAFRA about the FOI request received this letter.

In total, 15 producers in the province consented to the full release of their information, the letter stated. OMAFRA will release FBR numbers for those farms.

Many farm business owners had reached out to the Ministry about the FOI request with concerns about privacy and the release of personal information.

Under the Act, “information has to first be ‘personal information’ before the applicable exemption, section 21 – Personal privacy, can be considered,” said the letter.

“The Act further states that personal information does not include business identifying information, namely ‘the name, title, contact information or designation of an individual that identifies the individual in a business, professional or official capacity’ and further clarifies in section 2(4) that business identifying information ‘applies even if an individual carries out business, professional or official responsibilities from their home or dwelling, and the contact information for the individual relates to that dwelling.’”

For this reason, despite concerns from the industry, the personal privacy exemption cannot be considered for this FOI request, the letter said.

Farmers can request to appeal the decision until Sept. 9, 2020 here.

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