Applicant unsucessfully applied for a judicial review of two reports of findings of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The Court determined that the applicant had a more appropriate remedy by applying to the Federal Court for a compliance order or award of damages.

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Privacy commissioner – Freedom of information and protection of privacy – Disclosure of records – Production of records – Judicial review – Jurisdiction of court – Remedies – Alternative remedies

Kniss v. Canada (Privacy Commissioner), [2013] F.C.J. No. 56, 2013 FC 31, Federal Court, January 15, 2013, Noël J.

The applicant, Trevor Kniss, applied for judicial review of a report of findings of the respondent, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) following a complaint made by the applicant pursuant to section 11 of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) against Telus Communications Company. The applicant also began a parallel proceeding applying for judicial review of another report of findings of the OPC after he had filed a complaint against Sheppell-FGI, an employee-assistance provider for Telus.

The applicant was an employee of Telus who was involved in a motor vehicle accident and required reassignment due to a chronic back condition. Telus made efforts to find the applicant a suitable position, but the applicant was dissatisfied with the position suggested by Telus, as it involved sitting at a desk which he believed would be detrimental to his health. The applicant then commenced consultations with Sheppell-FGI and subsequently went on disability leave. After the applicant was advised to report to work at his new position, he expressed dissatisfaction to a counsellor at Sheppell-FGI. That dissatisfaction, as well as the counsellor’s concerns, was eventually disclosed to Telus. Telus proceeded to make a number of requests to the applicant to attend meetings with corporate security, and later with a psychiatrist. The applicant did not attend the appointments and his employment was terminated. The applicant pursued a grievance which was dismissed.

The applicant filed a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta against the respondents alleging that the disclosure of personal information by Sheppell-FGI to Telus occurred without his consent and contained unfounded allegations, and that Telus did not verify the truthfulness of the information and illegally disclosed such information to other employees and medical practitioners without his consent. The applicant was referred to the OPC which considered the complaints unfounded and dismissed them.

The Court found that the applicant had a more appropriate remedy through s. 14 of PIPEDA which would have allowed the applicant to apply to the Federal Court seeking a compliance order or an award of damages. The Court therefore declined to exercise its jurisdiction to judicially review the OPC reports and dismissed both applications for judicial review.

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