Access to information and protection of privacy

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About the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)

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, an “institution” under the Act. Exemptions from the right to access records are limited and specific.
  • 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, opinions 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.

The legislation also stipulates that an institution must provide the requester with the information and/or a decision regarding their request within 30 calendar days from the date a complete request is received. On occasion, an institution may extend the time for responding to a request for information, for example, if the request is for an extensive number of records and/or if an outside consultant needs to be contacted.

In keeping with the spirit of the legislation, the City of Ottawa is committed to providing individuals with the right of access to information in its custody and control including most operational records as well as records containing their own personal information, where applicable. This process is called "business as usual" and allows many records to be disclosed, without having to make a formal request under the Act. Only under limited circumstances does the City require an individual to make a formal MFIPPA request.

You may wish to view or download a complete copy of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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 appeals 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 the privacy provisions of MFIPPA; and
  • Informing the public about the Act.

The Access to Information and Privacy Office

In accordance with the City’s Privacy Policy, the City of Ottawa is committed to being open, accessible and transparent in its actions while safeguarding the privacy of individuals by protecting the personal information in the City’s custody or control. The City is required to handle information according to responsibilities and requirements set out under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and other applicable access and privacy legislation.

The City's Access to Information and Privacy Office is responsible for:

  • Responding to formal requests submitted under MFIPPA
  • Evaluating and providing direction to all City departments regarding informal ("business as usual") requests to enhance public access while ensuring that the confidentiality provisions of the Act are met
  • Ensuring personal information held by the City is only exchanged with, collected from or disclosed to authorized individuals and/or institutions in accordance with the Act and its regulations
  • Evaluating and undertaking privacy reviews of the City's programs and technologies to ensure that they meet statutory requirements regarding the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
  • Designing and delivering training programs and presentations on MFIPPA to City employees to ensure that employees are informed about the requirements of the Act
  • Providing ongoing updates on decisions of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario and how such decisions affect the corporation
  • Reviewing the development of forms, surveys and questionnaires to ensure that they include statutory authority for the collection of the personal information, the purpose for which the information will be used and a contact for the client.