Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

The Yukon government has opposed granting any of the requests filed by the Ombudsman to the Yukon Supreme Court last month.

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and Information and Privacy Commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case.

McLeod-McKay’s petition requests a declaration that the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to investigate authorities may require access to unredacted documents in the possession of the Yukon government.

It also requests declaration that the Ombudsman has jurisdiction to question authorities under investigation without communicating through lawyers. It also requests a recovery of costs.

The Yukon government filed a response to the petition on Jan. 18. The response opposes granting all of the relief set out.

The petition stems from a father’s complaint to the Ombudsman in November 2019, alleging that the territorial government’s family and children’s services branch failed to notify him about a risk of violence associated with the mother’s partner.

An investigator assigned to the complaint attempted over several months to retrieve documentation from the Yukon government regarding the case.

On Dec. 18, 2019, a lawyer representing the government informed the Ombudsman’s office that the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) prohibits the disclosure of identifying documents without a court order. It said that records needed to be reviewed and redacted to comply with the CFSA.

At the end of December 2019, the requested documents still weren’t made available. The investigator requested an interview to ask some basic questions about the file, to determine whether there were grounds to the father’s complaint and if the requested documents were ultimately required. That request was denied, the petition says.

A month later, the investigator was informed that the requested documents were still being reviewed by government officials. The Ombudsman’s office was promised a formal response after the review had been completed.

On Jan. 31, 2020, the investigator expressed concern that 75 days had passed since the complaint was made. The Ombudsman had intended to pursue an informal case resolution process, which has a deadline of 90 days.

On Feb. 10, the Ombudsman was informed that the Yukon government did not find the discretion to release the documentation without the consent of the persons involved. It continued that consent would be granted if the Ombudsman “narrowed the scope” of the complaint and prepared a requisition to the Supreme Court.

On March 3, McLeod-McKay wrote to Stephen Samis, deputy minister of health and social services. She said the government’s stance was disputing the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and expressed her opinion that the CFSA provisions don’t block access to the requested documents.

The Ombudsman also sent a Notice to Produce Records with a requested deadline of March 18, 2020.

On March 17, the Ombudsman received a response from a government lawyer requesting that all further correspondence go through legal counsel. They further stated that they wouldn’t be releasing the documents without a court order.

“Without the requested documents, the Ombudsman remained unable to investigate the Complaint and thus continued to be unable to comply with her statutory mandate,” the petition says.

The Ombudsman sent out a second Notice to Produce Records on May 5. The Yukon government said, again, that the documents wouldn’t be released without a court order.

A final attempt was made through direct correspondence to Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost. The Ombudsman was again instructed to direct all correspondence to legal counsel.

In her Dec. 11 petition, McLeod-McKay noted that the complaint was still outstanding more than a year after it was made.

The Ombudsman’s office declined request for comment on Jan. 25, advising it would wait for the petition to traverse the court process.

The Yukon government did not respond to request for comment by deadline, but traditionally doesn’t comment on issues before the courts.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com

Access to InformationYukon courtsYukon government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read