Laurentian University not required to release privileged records to AG, Ontario court rules | The Canadian News

An insolvent university under investigation by Ontario’s auditor general does not need to hand over inside information as part of the investigation, the province’s high court ruled Wednesday.

But Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said she plans to appeal the decision, saying Laurentian University’s unwillingness to provide “unrestricted access” to emails is hampering the analysis she released last year after the Sudbury school , Ontario, applied for creditor protection.

Lysyk argued that the Auditor General’s Act requires that grant recipients, such as universities, must turn over all records, including those protected by attorney-client privilege, a reading of the law that Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz disagreed with. in agreement.

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“This argument cannot prosper as it requires reading into the statute something that is not expressly stated,” he wrote in his decision.

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Laurentian said the decision provides a “welcome clarification” to the law.

“Other than the limited issue of insider information, which the Court has now determined Laurentian is not required to provide, the university has cooperated with the auditor general’s investigation,” a statement from the school read.

But Lysyk said that is not the case.

The school has said his attorney must review all emails sent to the auditor general to make sure they don’t contain privileged information, Lysyk said in a telephone interview Wednesday, and is requiring his office to submit specific search terms for review in instead of sending them all. information.

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“This is not just inside information,” Lysyk said. “This is also non-privileged information.”

She said her office always gives agencies the right to review their audits before they are released, so if the school really wanted to cooperate with the investigation, it would send the emails and request that any privileged information be removed sooner. publication.

Ultimately, he said, he just wants to be able to do his job.

“It’s never about wanting to get information to negatively impact Laurentian or Sudbury,” he said. “It is about being able to carry out an audit without obstacles, which allows us to understand the university. Not being able to receive emails at a time when everything is electronic affects us receiving non-privileged information.”

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Laurentian has been under creditor protection for almost a year. School president Robert Hache said the school went bankrupt after a decade of financial stress due to a variety of problems, including the region’s declining population.

At the time, Hache said court proceedings under the federal Business Creditor Settlement Act would not affect the university’s day-to-day operations.

But in April, Laurentian eliminated more than 60 academic programs, most of them at the undergraduate level, citing “historically low enrollment.”

Meanwhile, the Ontario Confederation of University Professors’ Associations said more than 80 faculty members had lost their jobs as a result.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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