Access to Information Process

The following steps are applicable to both the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).

Process

  1. The Information, Privacy and Records Coordinator logs your request and contacts the City department that has custody of the records you have requested, asking them to locate the records and send the Information, Privacy and Records Coordinator a copy for review.
  2. The Information, Privacy and Records Coordinator reviews the records to determine whether they contain any confidential information as outlined in the Acts. Confidential information is referred to in the Acts as exemptions from the public’s right of access to information.
  3. A letter is prepared for the signature of the City Clerk, advising which of the requested records you are permitted to access. In many cases, the letter will grant access in full, in which case you will either receive a copy of the records with the letter or, if there are fees applicable to your request, a fee estimate.

Fees must be paid before you can receive a copy of the records.

In other cases, the letter will grant access in part, and will state the exemption used to deny access to some of the records.

  1. The copy of the records you receive may contain severed portions indicating access to some information has been denied. In some cases access will be denied in full, and you will be advised which exemption has been applied. If access is denied you will be advised how to appeal the City’s decision.
  2. The City must respond to your request within 30 days of receiving your request with the $5 application fee. In exceptional cases, where your request is for a large number of records and requires and extensive search or consultation with an external third party, the time limit can be extended. You will be advised in writing of any time extension applied to your request.

Access to Information does not include the right to require the City to provide answers to specific questions or generate new records, only to a right of access to an existing document on which information has been recorded.

Requests received in the form of questions will not be processed as Access to Information requests. Questions should be directed to the appropriate City department for response. Responses by departments to questions or routine requests from the public are the responsibility of the individual department.

MFIPPA Exemptions

Mandatory exemptions

Mandatory exemptions require the City to deny access to a record. The list includes:

  • Information received in confidence from another government;
  • Financial or commercial information supplied in confidence where providing the information could harm the interests of another party;
  • Personal information about individuals other than yourself, if the disclosure; would constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy.

Discretionary exemptions

Discretionary exemptions provide the City with discretion when deciding whether access should be denied. They include:

  • Draft by-laws and records of closed meetings of Council or its committees;\
  • Advice or recommendations of an employee or consultant;
  • Law enforcement matters;
  • Release of the information could harm the financial or other interests of the City;
  • Information under solicitor-client privilege, such as legal advice;
  • Information which could endanger the health and safety of an individual
  • Information already available to the public through other means, or information soon to be published.

Certain records are not available through the Access to Information process, including:

  • Records placed in the City Archives by a private individual or organization;
  • Employment related matters.

Appeals

The City has 30 calendar days from date of receipt to respond to your request. If 30 calendar days have passed and you haven’t received a decision letter, or if you are not satisfied with the access decision made by the City, you can appeal in writing to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is an independent oversight body appointed by the Ontario Legislative Assembly. The Commissioner makes impartial decisions under MFIPPA.

To appeal an access decision made by the City you must, within 30 calendar days of receiving the decision, write to the Commissioner’s office indicating you are appealing the City’s decision. Your letter should include the following:

  1. Your name, address and telephone number;
  2. The government organization’s name and the file number;
  3. A copy of the government organization’s decision;
  4. A copy of the request; and
  5. A brief explanation of the basis for the appeal.

The appeal fee must accompany your appeal in the form of cheque or money order addressed to the “Minister of Finance”. Appeal fees are as follows:

  • Personal Requests – $10
  • General Requests – $25

The Commissioner’s office is located at:

2 Bloor St E
Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8
416-326-3333
http://www.ipc.on.ca

Contact information

For more information, or to address any questions or concerns, please contact:

Access, Privacy and Records Specialist
City of Guelph, City Hall
1 Carden St
Guelph, ON N1H 3A1
519-822-1260 extension 2349
privacy@guelph.ca

 

Last Updated: November 28, 2013. Broken links or incorrect information? Let us know!