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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 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 exclues specific types of records because they are already available to the public.


4.  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 give people the right to view information the government holds about them and to request corrections of that information.

Public Bodies have Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy co-ordinators who 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.

5. 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.


6.  How does it all work?

To make a request for information under FOIPP, a person 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 request your own personal information.

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

The Commissioner is appointed by the Legislative Assembly. People who want an independent review of a decision regarding the release of government records or use of their personal information may ask the Commissioner to investigate. The Request for Review form is used to apply for a review of a decision. There is no fee to file a Request 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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