Guidance Note No. 1: Transparency and Confidentiality: A Guidance Note for Participants in the Review Process of the Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor
Accessible, Effective, Independent, Predictable, Responsive, Transparent
The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor
Government of Canada
Views expressed herein are those of the Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor
Errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the Office
Transparency and Confidentiality: A Guidance Note for Participants in the Review Process
The Government of Canada's Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor is committed to Transparency as one of its key guiding principles. But we recognize that the confidentiality of information participants share with us is also very important. So, although we strive to ensure transparency in our process, we take seriously the need to protect the confidentiality of sensitive information people might share with us.
Because the Office is part of the Government of Canada, certain laws apply to our treatment of information.
The Office of the Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor is part of the Government of Canada and is therefore subject to two laws - the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (just as with all other Government of Canada offices that you may have dealings with). As such, all records collected or created by our Office could be the subject of requests under the two laws.
This Guidance Note helps potential participants in the Review Process identify how these laws might affect them.
Any Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or any person or corporation present in Canada has a right to request information that is contained in Government of Canada records. That means that an individual or corporation in Canada can make a request to the Government of Canada and receive information on the topic of the request from Government of Canada files, including the Office's files.
Any Canadian citizen, permanent resident or any person present in Canada has a right to access personal information about him or her held by the Government of Canada subject to limited and specific exemptions. You do not have the right to obtain the personal information of others.
The Office is subject to access to information and privacy laws: Can you keep information confidential?
Copies of documents held by the Office can be requested by any member of the public under the access to information and privacy laws. But records are not always released to the public. The information requested may qualify for exemption and/or exclusion under the two laws. For example, the following information is normally protected from disclosure to the public:
- "Personal information" is normally protected from disclosure to the public, such as:
- an individual's home address, date of birth, religion, race, and ethnic origin
- financial, medical, criminal or employment history
- the personal opinions and views of individuals (unless they are public servants)
- Information that may, if released, threaten the safety of individuals is normally protected from disclosure to the public
- Confidential third party commercial information is normally protected from disclosure to the public
In the early stages of the Review Process, you will never be asked for, nor should you volunteer to provide, any confidential information. We cannot accept anonymous requests for review, but you can ask us to keep your name and personal information confidential from the public. That means we will not post it on our website or use it in public documents.
During later stages of the Review Process, parties may agree to share information, including personal information and sensitive commercial information, with each other and the Office. They may wish that this information not be shared with any other parties. Not all information collected by the Office is released to the public under the access to information and privacy laws. You will be given more guidance on this well before you are asked to share potentially confidential information.
What information will I be asked to share during the Review Process?
There are two kinds of information that people typically have concerns about sharing: (1) their personal information, and (2) their sensitive commercial information. During the initial stages of the Review Process, no confidential information is shared with the Office. Only publicly available information should be shared in your initial submission, and in any follow up conversations or information exchanges.
However, later on in the process, it may be helpful for the participants to share confidential information with the Office and with each other, to engage in a productive dialogue. The type of information you might wish to share, and how this will be done, will be clearly defined before you are asked to share anything. You will have the opportunity to fully understand how this information sharing might affect you, and voluntarily decide whether you wish to proceed with the sharing.
Will my personal information remain confidential, or could it be released to the public?
Personal information, such as your address, date of birth, gender, someone else's views and opinions about you, financial information and employment history, is not typically subject to public disclosure under an access to information request. This personal information is normally protected from disclosure to the public and only shared or disclosed with your consent in accordance with the privacy law (certain exclusions apply; please contact us for more information).
Will my sensitive commercial information remain confidential, or could it be released to the public?
An access to information request could include requests for confidential (third party) commercial information. If such a request is received and the records were created by your business, consultation with your business will be undertaken. Your business will have the opportunity to make representations as to why the information should not be released to the public. Normally, information that a business consistently treats as confidential will not be released to the public.
No confidential information should be shared during the early stages of the Review Process and you will be given the opportunity to better understand how the sharing of confidential information may affect you well before you are asked to share any information.
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