Ontario Medical Association, et al. v. Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, et al.
(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)
Access to information - Exemption - Access to information — Exemptions — Statutory interpretation — Administrative law —Reporter made access to information request to Ministry of Health seeking names of top 100 physician billers, amounts billed and physicians’ specializations — Whether a physician’s name and Ontario Health Insurance Program billing information together should be considered “personal information” under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31, ss. 2(1), 21.
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The respondent Theresa Boyle, a Toronto Star reporter, made an access to information request to the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. F.31 (“FIPPA”). Ms. Boyle sought access to the names of the top 100 physician billers to the Ontario Health Insurance Program for the 2008 to 2012 fiscal years and a breakdown of the physicians’ medical specialties and dollar amounts billed. The Ministry acceded to the request in part but did not disclose the names and some specializations of the physicians. Ms. Boyle appealed the decision of the Minister to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (“IPCO”).
The IPCO adjudicator tasked with the inquiry and adjudication held that the information requested was not “personal information” within the meaning of s. 2(1) of the FIPPA and that the privacy exemption at s. 21(1) did not apply. The adjudicator therefore ordered that the records be disclosed in full. The Ontario Medical Association and two groups of physicians sought judicial reviews of the IPCO adjudicator’s decision. The Ontario Divisional Court determined that the adjudicator’s decision was reasonable and dismissed the applications for judicial review. The Ontario Court of Appeal dismissed the applicants’ appeals.
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