The Public Service Staffing Tribunal (PSST) is an independent quasi-judicial tribunal that operates in most respects like a court. It is required by law to decide cases impartially and must send information received in a complaint to all parties. It must apply legal principles and consider evidence in making its determinations. The mandate of the Tribunal is such that its decisions can impact the whole public service and Canadians in general.
Given the nature of the work of the PSST, it is bound by the open court principle which is protected by the Constitution. It guarantees the publicís right to know how justice is administered and allows the public access to decisions rendered by administrative tribunals. The principle of open court is deeply connected to transparency and the public trust in the systems that are in place to adjudicate rights and duties of parties.
The PSST has hearings that the public can attend and posts the full texts of its decisions on its website as well as summaries of those decisions. The PSST minimizes, as much as possible, the inclusion of private or personal information in the decision making process, so long as it can also protect the principle of the open court.
In publishing and posting its decisions, the PSST follows the statement of the Heads of Federal Administrative Tribunals Forum endorsed by the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals and the principles found in the Protocol for the Use of Personal Information in Judgments approved by the Canadian Judicial Council on the use of personal information in decisions. These documents provide a set of principles to ensure a consistent approach to the inclusion of personal information in decisions. They also provide guidance to administrative tribunals on posting decisions on their websites.
Privacy and the open court principle
The Tribunal recognizes that it is important to balance the principle of open court with the right to privacy.
Web site:††Given major advances in electronic technology, the Tribunal has taken active steps to balance privacy and the open court principle. The steps taken are designed to prevent Internet searching of full-text versions of decisions posted on its website. This has involved using the ďweb†robot†exclusion†protocol,Ē which is recognized by Internet search engines (e.g., Google and Yahoo). What this means is that the only decision-related information on the PSST website that is indexed by Internet search engines is found in decision summaries and the texts of the PSSTís annual reports. As a result, an Internet search of a personís full name mentioned in a decision will not find any information from the full-text versions of decisions posted on the PSST website. The Tribunal considers this a positive measure. It cannot guarantee that the technological measures taken will always be respected or free of mistakes or malfunctions. Should you have concerns, please address your questions to email@example.com.
Hearings and Tribunal discretion:††In exceptional circumstances, the PSST can depart from the open court principle during a hearing and can take certain measures in hearings to exclude sensitive information. The Tribunal may determine that it is appropriate to grant requests to maintain the confidentiality of specific evidence. It may determine that it should tailor its decisions to accommodate the protection of an individualís privacy. This can include holding a hearing in private, sealing exhibits containing sensitive personal information, or protecting the identities of witnesses or third parties.
PSST Complaint files:††Files of staffing complaints contain correspondence exchanged between the parties. These are available to the public for consultation at the PSSTís premises with appropriate notice. However, information -- such as an individualís home address and phone number -- is not available for consultation and is depersonalized prior to access.
Exhibits:††Exhibits filed at a hearing are available to the public for consultation at the PSSTís premises with appropriate notice, once the decision on the merits of the case has been rendered or the PSST has closed its case file. However, exhibits that have been ordered sealed are not available for consultation.