Telecom - Commission Letter addressed to Stan Thompson (Northwestel Inc.)

Ottawa, 12 February 2021

Our reference: 1011-NOC2019-0191


Mr. Stan Thompson
Chief Financial Officer & Vice-President
Northwestel Inc.
3rd Floor
301 Lambert Street
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 4Y4

RE:  Broadband Fund - Community Engagement Report – Request for Disclosure

Dear Mr. Thompson:

On 8 December 2020, Northwestel Inc. (Northwestel) filed its Community Engagement Report (the Report), in response to the funding condition set out in Telecom Decisions 2020-257, 2020-258, 2020-259, and 2020-260, requiring Northwestel to submit:

[a] report detailing the results of community engagement, namely the meetings with the identified communities that were committed to in the application. Specifically, the report must indicate with whom Northwestel met and when, any feedback that was received regarding the project, and demonstration of meaningful consideration of feedback received and the response provided.

The Report was filed in confidence pursuant to section 39 of the Telecommunications Act (the Act).  In response to a request from Commission staff, Northwestel filed an abridged version of the Report on 21 December 2021.  In support of its designation of confidentiality, Northwestel submitted that disclosure of personally identifiable information or information that could be used to derive the identity of the respondent or community could breach the privacy of individual participants and/or affect future negotiations with certain communities or participants and is accordingly appropriately designated as confidential in accordance with section 39(1)(b) and/or (c) of the Act. It submitted that other information, such as specific network rollout information, must not be disclosed as it is competitively sensitive, the disclosure of which could result in material financial loss and cause specific harm. 

In its submission dated 21 January 2021 filed in response to Telecom Notice of Consultation CRTC 2020-367, the Council of Yukon First Nations (CYFN) requested that the Commission direct disclosure of the non-abridged version of the Report. CYFN submitted that disclosure of the full report of Northwestel’s consultation with First Nations is important to ensure that the Company’s obligation to consult has been fully met.

Given the breadth of Northwestel’s claims of confidentiality, and noting CYFN’s request for disclosure of the full report, Commission staff asks that Northwestel file within 5 days, a submission demonstrating why the Report should not be placed on the public record or alternatively, why each portion of the unabridged report concerning a particular community should not be disclosed to the community in question.  Specifically, Northwestel is asked to justify how each redacted portion of the Report constitutes confidential information within the meaning of section 39 of the Act; identify the specific direct harm that is likely to result from disclosure of that specific information; and indicate why this harm outweighs the public interest in disclosure of this information. 


Original signed by

Chris Seidl
Executive Director
Telecommunications Sector

c.c:      Ian Baggley, CRTC,
Chris Roy, CRTC,
Kevin Pickell, CRTC,
Suneil Kanjeekal, CRTC,
Simon Wozny, CRTC,
Eliana Castellanos, Council of Yukon First Nations,
Lisa Badenhorst, Council of Yukon First Nations,

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