FOIPP Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the Act?
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has five purposes:
1. To allow people to request access to government records.
2. To control how government collects and uses personal information.
3. To allow people to request their personal information from government.
4. To allow people to request corrections to the personal information.
5. To allow people to seek independent review of decisions by government about access and privacy.
What does it cover?
The Act covers the records of all departments, agencies, boards, including school boards, commissions and crown corporations of the provincial government, referred to as public bodies. You can see a list of the public bodies under the Act.
What is a record?
A record is "a record of information in any form and includes: books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, notes, images, audiovisual recordings, x-rays and papers and any other information that is written, photographed, recorded or stored in any manner."
The Act applies to records of government but does not include software or any mechanisms that produce records.
The Act excludes specific types of records because they are already available to the public.
What is meant by "Freedom of Information?"
Freedom of Information gives people the right to request access to the records of government.
A request does not guarantee access. Some information is protected and under the Act cannot be released. Each case is reviewed to determine what information can be released.
Freedom of Information also gives people the right to view information the government holds about them and to request corrections of that information.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy co-ordinators analyze records and apply mandatory and discretionary exemptions. The final decision about what information will be released rests with the head of the public body as defined under the Act.
What about Protection of Privacy?
The Act provides guidelines for the use of personal information by government. There are several important provisions:
- Public bodies can collect and use personal information only for purposes authorized under an Act; for law enforcement purposes or for operating programs or activities.
- The Act requires that people be informed about the authorization for collection of information and how that information will be used at the time the information is collected.
- Generally, the Act states that information must be collected directly from the individual to whom it relates.
- The Act allows the use of information for a consistent purpose - that is, consistent with the purpose for which it was originally collected.
- An individual may be asked to give consent for their information to be used for other purposes.
How does it all work?
To make a request for information under FOIPP, a person fills out an application and sends it to the Access and Privacy Services Office. This department will review the application and determine, guided by the Act, whether the record can be released in whole, in part or not at all. Generally, public bodies will have 30 days to respond to the request. Applicants will be charged a five dollar fee to apply. Other fees may apply. There is no fee to request your own personal information.
What is the role of the Information and Privacy Commissioner?
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is an independent officer of the Legislative Assembly appointed by the Legislature for a term of five years. The Commissioner may be removed only by a vote of the Legislature.
The Commissioner will accept appeals, known as Requests for Review, from applicants or third parties who are not satisfied with the response they receive from a public body as a result of an access to information request made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.