You are here

Access to Information

First, decide on the information you wish to apply for. Then determine which provincial or municipal body likely has the information you seek.
Provincial Records
A list of provincial government departments, boards and agencies can be found in the government directory.
Local Records
Local public bodies such as hospitals, universities and school boards covered by the FOIPOP Act may have their own catalogues of records available at their offices. Click here for the contact information of the FOIPOP Administrators at district health authorities, school boards, and universities.
Municipal Records
Municipal bodies covered by the Municipal Government Act may also have their own catalogues of records available at their offices. The online municipal directory is helpful to find contact information. Municipal police agencies are also covered by this Act.
Requesting Information from a Public Body
In some cases, the information can be obtained by calling, writing or visiting the appropriate government organization. Certain information is routinely released through each department’s Routine Access Policy.
If the information you want is not available as a matter of routine, a formal application for access to information under one of the Acts may be necessary.
At this point, you can speak to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) Administrator for the public body. The FOIPOP Administrator may suggest an alternative information source or explain the application process.
For access to information requests, please click here for the public body FOIPOP Administrator contact lists.
The more specific, clear and complete your request is, the more quickly and accurately it can be answered.
The FOIPOP Administrator for each public body may help you complete an application form (Form 1). The Acts require that all requests:
  • be in writing;
  • specify the subject-matter of the record requested with sufficient particulars to be identified; and
  • be accompanied by any required fee (please contact the appropriate public body to inquire to whom a cheque should be made payable).

There is no charge for applications for your own personal information or correction of your personal information. However, there is a mandatory $5 application fee for access to general records (contact the public body to find out who the cheque should be made payable to). If the application is for access to general records, you may also be charged for:

  • the cost of staff time to locate and retrieve information;
  • the cost of staff time to prepare the records; and
  • photocopying, mailing, and if applicable, fax charges.

If a public body intends to charge a fee for records it must provide a fee estimate. Under the regulations to the Acts, a public body is entitled to charge $15.00 per half-hour of staff time and $0.20 for each photocopy. It also has the authority to waive a fee. You have the right to request a review by the Review Officer of a fee estimate by a public body.

Public Body Response times
The public body must respond to your request within 30 days. However, the response time may be extended for one of three reasons:

  • your request is not detailed enough to clearly identify the information you requested;
  • a large number of records is requested or must be searched and more time is needed to gather the documents; and
  • the department or agency must consult with a third party or another public body before it can decide whether to release the information.

If the response time is extended, the public body must tell you and explain why. It also must tell you when you can expect its full response. You have a right to request a review by the Review Office of the extension.

Response types
Typically, you will receive one of the following three responses to a request for access to information.

  • Your application has been granted in full. In this case, the public body has decided to release the information requested and you will receive a package containing the requested records.
  • Your application has been granted in part. In this case, the public body has decided to release part of the information requested and you will receive a package containing the records you requested, but with particular sections removed.
  • Your application has been denied. In this case, the public body has decided not to release any of the information requested.

In all three instances, you will receive a letter from the public body outlining its decision. If a public body refuses to release all or parts of records to you, it must tell you why. It must also tell you that you have the right to request a review of its decision by the Review Officer. You must request this review within 60 days of receiving the decision.

Also, if a public body does not have the records you requested, it will tell you and may 'transfer' or refer your request to the public body that does. The public body that receives the transferred request will then be responsible for processing your application.
No Response
If after 30 days you receive no response to a request for access to information, it is considered that the public body has denied access. At that point, you may request in writing that the Review Officer conduct a review of the public body's refusal.
Review Request
If you are not satisfied with the public body’s response to your access request, you may request a Review of the decision.