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Access to information

Access to information and privacy

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) provides an individual with the right to access information under the custody and control of an institution, including one's own personal information (Section I - MFIPPA). There are certain limitations that may exclude records from being accessible: the records may be exempt, confidentiality provisions may apply or the request may be considered frivolous or vexatious.

Individuals wishing to access municipal government records should begin by contacting the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 to be linked to the City department that has the information. The appropriate departmental staff will then determine if the request should be submitted formally under the Act or if the information will be provided under business as usual. The City of Ottawa’s Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Plan is also a great place to start. This is an extensive list of records available as business as usual that can be obtained directly from the department. Open Data Ottawa may also contain the information you are seeking.

It is important to note that the rules governing access and privacy under MFIPPA apply to both formal and informal requests for information.

Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination Plans

One of the key principles of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) is that “information should be available to the public”. In an effort to engage citizens and demonstrate accountability and transparency, the City proactively provides the public with access to the information that matters most to them. The practice of Routine Disclosure and Active Dissemination is a cost-effective and client-friendly way of providing information to the public. The overarching principle in this Policy is to advance the view that information held by the City of Ottawa should be made available to the public, and any exceptions to this principle should be limited and specific.

Learn what records are provided directly by City Departments.

Access and correction form

Download your copy of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act Access/Correction Form [ PDF – 155 KB ].


See a list of fees for information requests.


Learn about your right to appeal a request for information.

Frequently asked questions

See common questions about the MFIPPA, including information about the submission process.

Submitting a request for information

Provides access to records held by the City of Ottawa in compliance with applicable law. 

Learn More

Right to appeal a decision

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows individuals to appeal decisions about access to records made by municipal institutions. You can appeal any decision made by the head of an institution. The appeal must be filed within thirty (30) calendar days after the notice of the decision is given by the municipality for any of the following reasons:

  • A decision to extend the time limit for responding to a request
  • A refusal to grant access to a record on the grounds that the record does not exist
  • A refusal to grant access to a record on the grounds that the record is exempt from disclosure
  • Granting access to only part of a record
  • A refusal to confirm or deny the existence of a record that deals with law enforcement or would, if disclosed, be an unjustified invasion of personal privacy
  • Granting a request for access to a record or part that may contain information where the disclosure may be an unjustified invasion of personal privacy
  • A deemed refusal to grant access to records
  • A refusal to make a correction to personal information
  • The amount of a fee charged
  • A refusal to waive a fee or a refusal to allow the requester to examine the original record

The written notice of appeal should be directed to:

Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
M4W 1A8

In the event that a requester wishes to launch an appeal, the Information and Privacy Commissioner's Office must be provided with a copy of the request, the file number, a copy of the municipality's decision letter and the appeal fee. There is a $25 appeal fee for general information requests and a $10.00 appeal fee for personal information requests. All fees should be in the form of either a cheque or a money order made payable to the Minister of Finance.


What are the principles or intent of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act?

There are five basic principles of this legislation aimed to provide an individual with an appropriate balance between access to government information and protection of the individual’s personal information. These principles are:

  • You, the “public”, have a right of access to records held by the City
  • The City must protect your personal privacy and follow rules and guidelines in collecting, using and disclosing, to others, your personal information
  • It is your right to see your personal information held by the City about yourself
  • You have the right to request corrections to your personal information that is held by the City. However, opinion’s cannot be changed or removed
  • You have the right to an independent review of decisions made by the City. This independent review is conducted by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario’s office.

Do I have to make a MFIPPA request to obtain information from the City?

No. The City of Ottawa routinely releases information without a formal MFIPPA request provided the information:

  • Is not subject to exemption from disclosure
  • Is for a reasonable number of records
  • Does not contains personal information about other individuals

What is personal information?

Personal information is recorded information on an identifiable individual including:

  • The individual’s name, home address or home telephone number
  • The individual’s race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religious or political beliefs or associations
  • The individual’s age, sex, marital status or family status
  • An identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual
  • The individual’s fingerprints, blood type or inheritable characteristics
  • Information about the individual’s health and health care history, including information about a physical or mental disability
  • Information about the individual’s educational, financial, employment or criminal history, including criminal records where a pardon has been given
  • Anyone else’s opinions about the individual
  • The individual’s personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else.

If I make a MFIPPA request, will I get all of the information I requested?

You will receive all information that is releasable under MFIPPA. Some information may not be released if an exception to release exists in the Act. When an exemption to disclosure exists, you will be informed under which section of the Act the information is exempt.

There are two types of exemptions;

  1. Mandatory which, if applicable, the City can not release information related to these exemptions without violating the Act
  2. Discretionary exemptions to which the City may apply its discretion to the information when deciding whether or not to release

Is there a cost to make a formal MFIPPA request?

When submitting a request you must pay an initial application fee of $5.00. A request requiring this fee will not be processed until the fee is received. The fee may be received in the form of cash or cheque made out to the “City of Ottawa”.

Are there additional fees charged after the initial fee?

A personal request will have a fee assessed for photocopies if the cost of the copies requested exceeds $5.00. The charge for photocopies is $0.20 per page. Computer Programming fees are $15.00 per ¼ hour to develop a program to retrieve information. Disks/CD’s are $10.00 each.

For other requests, fees are charged as follows:

Search Time: $7.50 per ¼ hour required to search and retrieve the records
Record Preparation: $7.50 per ¼ hour required to prepare records for release
Photocopying: $0.20 per page
Computer Programming: $15.00 per ¼ hour to develop program to retrieve information
Disks/CD: $10.00 for each

You will be given an estimated fee if anticipated fees are $25.00 or more. If the estimate of fees to be paid is $100.00 or more, you will be required to pay a 50% deposit. Please note that the fee charges are prescribed by Section 45 of the MFIPPA and section 6 of the Regulations and Guidelines for Municipalities and Local Boards. All monies are payable by cash, money order or certified cheque. If you are paying at a Client Service Centre, interact, Visa and Mastercard are also accepted.

What if I don’t enclose the $5 initial application fee required for submitting an MFIPPA request?

Your request will be opened, but processing will not begin until the initial fee has been received by the Access to Information and Privacy office. The ATIP office will inform you in writing that the request is on hold and awaiting the fee.

Do I have to give the City my personal information?

To obtain services from the City of Ottawa, you may have to provide your personal information to the City. However, the City can collect only the personal information that is needed to provide the service

Does the City have to tell me for what purpose they will use my personal information?


When personal information is collected from an individual, notice should be given about what use is made of their personal information, the authority for collecting this information and the name and contact information of the employee who can answer additional questions a person may have on this collection. Also, the information is to be collected directly from the individual in most circumstances but there are a few exceptions to this in the Act.

What can I do if the City breaches my privacy?

If you feel that the City of Ottawa has breached your privacy, you have the right to request an investigation into the matter by the City ATIP office and, if not satisfied with the result of the investigation, you may request the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario to investigate the potential breach.

What is meant by the “duty to assist”?

Employees of the City of Ottawa, including the ATIP office, must make every “reasonable” effort to help applicants and to respond to each applicant openly, accurately and completely subject to the restrictions and exemptions of MFIPPA.

What is clarification of request?

If it is unclear what records are being required, the ATIP office will contact the applicant for more details on the information being requested as a part of “duty to assist”. This clarification enables more accurate and complete processing of a request.

Do I have to tell the City why I want the information?


However, under certain circumstances, it may be helpful to provide the reason, as it would enable the City to process your request more efficiently.

What is the role of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario?

Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, who is appointed by the Provincial Legislature, oversees all aspects of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for all public bodies affected by the Act including the City of Ottawa. The Office of the Commissioner is the independent body that reviews the application of the legislation including:

  • Conducting reviews of decisions made by the City of Ottawa under MFIPPA, at the request of an applicant or affected third party;
  • Conducting investigations into complaints regarding privacy breaches, to ensure compliance with provisions of MFIPPA and compliance with rules relating to the destruction of records;
  • Making Orders as a result of investigations, reviews and inquiries; and
  • Informing the public about the Act.

How to Make a MFIPPA Request

How to complete a MFIPPA request using the Municipal Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Access form provided by the City of Ottawa:

  1. Enter your name, address and phone number;
    1. If applicable enter company name
    2. Fax and e-mail are optional
  2. Indicate if you are requesting general or personal information;
    1. enclose initial fee of $5.00
    2. indicate if you would like to examine the records or receive a copy of the records
  3. Give as much detail as possible, describe the records you would like to access, the business unit (department) of the City of Ottawa that you believe holds the records and include the time period for the records.
  4. Please sign, date and send your request to the ATIP Office with fees

You may also submit your request in a letter provided it is in writing, stating that you are requesting the information under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Please mail your request to:

Access to Information and Privacy Office
City of Ottawa
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON
K1P 1J1
Tel: 613-580-2424, ext. 21898

Or hand deliver to:

Any Client Service Centre within the City of Ottawa (please check hours of operation).