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Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP)

Access and Privacy Services Office


Common Questions and Answers

1. What is the purpose of the Act?

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has two purposes:

  • To make government more open and accountable to the citizens of Prince Edward Island.
  • To insure that the personal information held by government is protected.

 

2. When did the Act come into effect?

The Act was proclaimed on November 1, 2002.

3. What will it cover?

The Act covers the records of all departments, agencies, boards, commission and crown corporations of the provincial government, referred to as public bodies. School Boards came under the Act on November 8, 20003. You can see a complete list of the public bodies under the Act as of November 2003.

4. What is a record?

A records 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, past, present and future. However, does not include software or any mechanisms that produce records.

5. Which records does the Act not apply to?

The Act excludes specific types of records. This means they cannot be accessed. Some of these records are not covered under the Act because they can already be accessed by the public.

6. 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 - each application is reviewed to make sure the release of the information is in compliance with the Act. Some information is exempt from release. Each case is reviewed to determine if the information can be released in whole, in part or not at all.

The Freedom of Information provision also gives people the right to view information the government holds about them and to request corrections of that information, if warranted.

7. Who decides whether information will be released?

Public Bodies have assigned Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy co-ordinators. After receiving a FOIPP request, the coordinator is responsible for retrieving and analyzing the records. Working with the head of the public body, the coordinator will apply mandatory and discretionary exemptions. When the document is released, part of the information may be severed because it cannot be disclosed under law.

The final decision about what information will be released rests with the head of the public body as defined under the Act.

8. 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 collecting 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.

     

9. How does it all work?

To make a request for information under FOIPP, the citizen fills out an application [157KB PDF file] (en français [162KB PDF file]) and sends it to the public body responsible for the records. 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 view your own personal information.

10. Does this change how information is released now?

No. All bodies should continue with their regular practices of releasing information; unless prohibited under the Act.

11. What is the role of the Information and Privacy Commissioner?

The Commissioner is appointed by the Legislative Assembly. Citizens who want an independent review of a decision regarding the release of government records or use of their personal information may appeal to the Commissioner for a ruling. The Request for Review form would be the tool citizens would use in applying to this office for a review of a decision. There is no fee to file an Application for Review with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Forms

Request to Access Information

*Printable version of this form [76 KB PDF File]

Request for Review

*Printable version of this form [254 KB PDF File]

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