Dear OFA members,
We, as the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), understand your frustration and sincerely share your concerns regarding the freedom-of-information (FOI) decision made by Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The three general farm organizations (OFA, Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario and the National Farmers Union – Ontario) intend to continue working together to advocate on behalf of our members to protect the disclosure of farm business names from OMAFRA’s records.
We understand the urgency of the situation. Earlier today, OFA submitted our intention to file a formal appeal of the FOI decision made by OMAFRA on behalf of our membership. To view a copy of the appeal submission, please click on the following link: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/ofa-submits-intention-to-appeal-foi-decision.
An appeal has also been submitted through my personal account. Any appeal will immediately halt the process and release of information to the requestor. We encourage all of our members to submit an appeal application and reinforce the potential harm the release of this information could have on the health and safety of our farm operations. Please note a copy of the decision notice issued by OMAFRA must be attached to the appeal form. You can find the notice on OFA’s website here: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/omafra-notice-of-decision-regarding-foi-request.
Instructions for properly completing the appeal form are included in the addendum (at the end) of this letter. Click on the following link to fill out the appeal form: https://www.ipc.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Resources/appfrm-e-online.pdf.
To be clear, OMAFRA strictly intends to release a list of farm business names to the individual who submitted the FOI request. In the notice of decision, we were advised that your FBR number, contact information and address will not be released.
These names are being released under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
We also want to take the opportunity to reassure our members that the release of information does not pertain to OFA’s membership database. OFA is not the entity disclosing the information. The request was submitted to OMAFRA and they have made the ultimate decision to release the farm business name portion of the record for Farm Business Registrants in Ontario.
OMAFRA has chosen to withhold the FBR number information and only release the farm business name portion. Only in the case of 15 farm businesses will the farm business name and FBR number be disclosed, as per consent provided by those farms to OMAFRA.
For clarity, as an organization OFA is not subject to freedom-of-information requests, only government agencies are subject to FOI legislation.
We have also compiled a timeline of OFA activities throughout the FOI request. The timeline includes communication with members, correspondence with OMAFRA, submitting our own freedom-of-information request, publication of a joint news release etc. To read a detailed timeline of activities, visit https://ofa.on.ca/resources/timeline-of-ofa-activities-throughout-foi-request.
We assure you that we will continue working hard on your behalf to strongly oppose the release of this information. We understand the serious risk this poses to the health, safety and security of our farms, families and businesses.
How to File an Appeal
Instructions for completing the appeal form are as follows, using the headings on the form.
Click on the following link to fill out the appeal form: https://www.ipc.on.ca/wp-content/uploads/Resources/appfrm-e-online.pdf.
Please note a copy of the decision notice issued by OMAFRA must be attached to the appeal form. You can find the notice here: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/omafra-notice-of-decision-regarding-foi-request.
- List the name of individual or farm organization, and contact information
- Email Address: do not include
Please select one of the following:
- check box #4 “I received a notice that the institution intends to disclose a record/personal information that may relate to me.”
- Representative is a: check agent
- Surname and given name – leave blank
- Name of Company, Association or Organization: List OFA, and contact information, including email address
When populating the form with contact information for OFA, please insert the following:
Contact name: Cathy Lennon
Title: General Manager
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
- List “Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs”
- Insert #20-05 as the Institution File Number
Consent to Provide a Copy of Documentation to the Institution
- check second box – do not consent
- leave blank
Details of Appeal
- Check “Third Party” (2ndto last option)
Resolution of Appeal
- Describe how you feel this appeal could be resolved: IPC order denying FOI Request #20-05
Subject line for email: Attention: Registrar
Email should state: Please find attached an appeal of OMAFRA Decision in FOI Request #20-05, issued August 10, 2020.
There is no fee for filing this appeal.
The appeal must be sent by no later than September 9, 2020.