Access to information

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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). In accordance with MFIPPA, a formal request for information can be submitted to obtain records from the municipality. There are certain limitations that may exclude records from being disclosed, such as: the records may be exempt from disclosure under the Act, another institution may have a greater interest in the records, or the request may be considered frivolous or vexatious.

Individuals wishing to access municipal government records should begin by contacting the City of Ottawa's Client Service Centre at 3-1-1 to be linked with the City department that has the information. Departmental staff will determine if the request should be submitted formally under the Act or if the information can be provided as 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, but not exhaustive, list of records available as business as usual that can be obtained directly from the department. Open Data Ottawa or the City of Ottawa Archives may also have 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.

Right to appeal a decision

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act allows individuals to appeal decisions made by municipal institutions about access to records. 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 mailed to:

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

If 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 assigned to the request, a copy of the municipality's decision letter and the appeal fee.

Fees: A $25 appeal fee for general information requests and a $10.00 appeal fee for personal information requests applies and must be submitted with the appeal. All fees should be in the form of either a cheque or a money order made payable to the Minister of Finance.