Access to Records

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ("the FOIP Act") provides access to records held by public bodies, including access to an individual’s own personal information, and allows individuals to request a correction of their own personal information held by a public body (a “FOIP request” or "Access Request").

Sometimes records are available by routine or proactive disclosure, without having to make a formal FOIP request. Contact the FOIP Office of the public body who you believe has the records to find out how best to access the information you want.

Information is also available at the Government of Alberta’s Open Government Portal which has open data, catalogue of publications, government laws and regulations, and other resources.

For general guidance about the FOIP Act, please contact the FOIP-PIPA HelpDesk atl 780-427-5848 (if you are within Alberta, dial 310-0000 and then 780-427-5848 to make the call toll-free). Please allow two (2) business days for a response. This number does not process requests or have access to records.

General Access Request

A general request is a written request for records but not a request for your own personal information. For example, you may ask for a type of record like correspondence, or information on a certain subject matter, or an identifiable item like a report on an specific subject. It is not a request for your own personal information.

1.     Find out if the information you want is available for routine or proactive disclosure before you make a FOIP request by asking the public body’s FOIP Office.

2.     To make a General Access Request, you may use any of the following options:

        a. Make a General Access Request to Government of Alberta (GoA) Departments (excluding Health*) online, through the FOIP Request Service. In order to deliver enhanced service and protect your privacy, you will need a MyAlberta Digital ID.  

*If your request is to the Department of Health only, please see the MyAlberta eServices page.

       (NOTE: This is for General Access Requests only (not personal requests) and to departments of the GoA only - credit card payment of the $25.00 fee is required)

        b. Use the paper form of the GoA Access Request form to submit a request to any department of the Alberta Government offline. If you are requesting the same records from more than one GoA department, you may complete this form once and identify all public bodies. Send a copy of the completed Access Request(s) with the $25.00 initial fee to each GoA department FOIP Office. Find a FOIP Office

        c. Use the Request to Access Information form  to submit a request to a public body that is not a department of the Alberta Government (E.g. agencies, boards, commissions, school boards, post-secondary institutions, health care bodies or municipal departments.) Send the completed request, initial fee and any other required documents to the public body FOIP Office, Find a FOIP Office

        d. You may write your request in a letter and submit the request to the public body with the $25.00 initial fee, via mail.

        e. For all options, clearly describe the records you are requesting in order to accurately identify the responsive records and minimize potential fees. Broad, complex requests take longer to process and increase the likelihood of large fees for service being assessed. Specify any reference or file number, dates, date ranges, agency or institution names, program or service names, reports names, record types etc.

3. For a continuing request, please contact the FOIP Office to discuss the request and any associated costs. FOIP office of the Public Body

4.  Additional fees: All fees are determined by the FOIP Act and Regulations. You may be required to pay a 50% deposit on fees if the total fee for processing the request is estimated to be greater than $150. Fees are subject to change, so do not pay more than the 50% deposit until processing is complete.

         a. Where fees are assessed, processing stops until you agree to pay and provide the deposit.

         b. Records are provided when the fees are paid in full. Final fees will be assessed when processing is complete. The FOIP Office will advise you of the balance owing. If the final total fees are less than the deposit you paid, you will be refunded the balance.

5.     To clarify your request or check its status, refer to any correspondence you may have received and contact the FOIP Office that is processing your request.

6.     What to Expect:

Public bodies receive requests during business hours only. Requests that are submitted to the public body outside of business hours are considered to be received on the next business day.

Public bodies have an initial time period of 30 calendar days to respond to a FOIP request, but may take additional time as may be allowed by the FOIP Act and/or the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

REMEMBER: A public body’s FOIP Office needs:

-       Your contact information

-       A clear and detailed description of the records or information you want

-       Any required fees

A FOIP Office processes your request when it receives all of the above during its business hours.

Personal Access Request (Your own personal information)

A personal request is a written request for records of a personal nature about you. Examples are child and family services files, adoption records, etc.

To Make a FOIP Request:

1.     Find out if the information you want is available for routine or proactive disclosure before you make a FOIP request by asking the public body’s FOIP Office.

2.     To make a Personal Access Request, use one of the following options:

        a. Make a Personal Access Request to Government of Alberta (GoA) Departments (excluding Health*) online, through the FOIP Request Service. In order to deliver this enhanced service and protect your privacy, you will need a MyAlberta Digital ID.   

*If your request is to the Department of Health only, please see the MyAlberta eServices page.

        b. Use paper form of the GoA Access Request Form to submit a request to any department of the Alberta Government offline. If you are requesting the same records from more than one GoA department, you may complete this form once and identify all public bodies. Send a copy of the completed request and any other required documents to the public body FOIP Office, Find a FOIP Office.

        c. Use the Request to Access Information form to submit a request to a public body that is not a department of the Alberta Government (E.g. agencies, boards, commissions, school boards, post-secondary institutions, healthcare bodies or municipal departments). Send the completed form and any other required documents to the public body FOIP Office, Find a FOIP Office.

       d. You may write your request in a letter and submit the request to the public body with any other required documents, via mail.

3.     When requesting records please ensure:

          a. If using one of the request forms, make sure you check the box for "Personal Request/Information". If you write a letter, be sure to specify your request is a Personal Request.

          b. Clearly describe the records you are requesting in order to accurately identify the responsive records and minimize potential fees. Broad, complex requests take longer to process and increase the likelihood of large fees for service being assessed.

          c. Include enough detail so the right records can be found like file numbers, full legal names, aliases, maiden names, identifiers and identification numbers, dates of birth, dates or date ranges, program or service names, agency or institution names, location of records, etc.

          d. Any reference or file number, dates or date ranges, agency or institution names, program or service names, report names or record type etc.

IMPORTANT: FOIP Offices must protect all personal information from inappropriate access.

If you request records containing personal information, please show you have a right to access it, and provide appropriate documentation:

-       If you request your own personal information, you may be asked to provide proof of identity, like a driver’s license. To protect this information, please contact the FOIP Office of the public body you believe has the information you are requesting before you provide the proof.

-       If you request someone else’s personal information, go to the section below: "Personal Access Request (Someone else's Personal Information)".

If you have any questions about what is required for accessing another person’s personal information, directly call the FOIP Office of the Public Body you believe has the information.

4.     Send your request to the FOIP Office of the Public Body that you believe has the information.

            a. There is no fee to start a request for your own personal information, but if the cost of photocopying is more than $10 (40 pages), you will be notified.

To minimize potential fees, only request the records that you want. For example, you may eliminate exact duplicates when possible, eliminate draft documents, or eliminate email records which are duplicated in the final/longest email string when possible.

            b. Records are provided when the fees are paid in full. Final fees will be assessed and may be adjusted when the processing is complete. The FOIP Office will advise you of the balance owing.

5.     To clarify your request or check its status, contact the FOIP Office that is processing your request.

6.     What to Expect:

Public bodies receive requests during business hours only. Requests that are submitted to the public body outside of business hours are considered to be received on the next business day.

Public bodies have an initial time period of 30 calendar days to respond to a FOIP request, but may take additional time as may be allowed by the FOIP Act and/or the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

REMEMBER: A public body’s FOIP Office needs:

-       Your contact information (and it may need proof of your identity)

-       A clear and detailed description of the records or information you want

-       Any required fees

-       Any authorization that may be necessary

A FOIP Office processes your request when it receives all of the above during its business hours.

The Health Information Act (HIA) governs the collection, use and disclosure of a person’s health information.
You can make a request for your own health information online, through the Alberta Netcare EHR website. Alternatively, you may contact the Health Information Act Help Desk at hiahelpdesk@gov.ab.ca or 780-427-8089
  (or toll free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000 then 780-427-8089) to discuss your request.

 

Personal Access Request (Someone else's personal information)

A request for someone else’s personal information is a written request for records of a personal nature about another person, not you. Examples are child and family services files, adoption records, etc.

1. To Make a Personal Access Request, use one of the following options:

        a. Make a Personal Access Request to Government of Alberta (GoA) Departments (excluding Health*) online, through the FOIP Request Service. In order to deliver this enhanced service and protect your privacy, you will need a MyAlberta Digital ID.

*If your request is to the Department of Health only, please see the MyAlberta eServices page: FOIP - Personal Access Requests.

       b. Use the paper form of the GoA Access Request Form to submit a request to any department of the Alberta Government. If you are requesting the same records from more than one GoA department, you may complete this form once and identify all public bodies. Send a copy of the completed request and any other required documents to the public body FOIP Office, Find a FOIP Office.

       c. Use the Request to Access Information form to submit a request to a public body that is not a department of the Alberta Government, (E.g. agencies, boards, commissions, school boards, post-secondary institutions, healthcare bodies or municipal departments). Send the completed request, and any other required documents to the public body FOIP Office, Find a FOIP Office.

       d. You may write your request in a letter and submit the request to the public body with any other required documents, via mail.

2. When requesting records please ensure:

       a. If using one of the request forms, make sure you check the box for "Personal Request/Information". If you write a letter, be sure to specify your request is a personal request.

       b. Clearly describe the records you are requesting in order to accurately identify the responsive records and minimize potential fees. Broad, complex requests take longer to process and increase the likelihood of large fees for service being assessed.

       c. Include enough detail so the right records can be found like file numbers, full legal names, aliases, maiden names, identifiers and identification numbers, dates of birth, dates or date ranges, program or services names, agency or institution names, location of records, etc.

        d. Any reference or file number, dates or date ranges, agency or institution names, program or service names, report names or record type etc.

IMPORTANT: FOIP Offices must protect all personal information from inappropriate access.

3. To request personal information of someone else, please show you have a right to access it, and provide appropriate documentation:

a.    If you request personal information on behalf of another person, please provide proof of your authority to act on their behalf, e.g.: their signed consent, power of attorney, guardianship or trusteeship order, etc. To protect this information, please contact the FOIP Office of the public body before you provide the proof.

b.    If you want personal information that belongs to your minor child/children, you may be asked provide proof you have a right to access it, e.g.: a court order, access order, no contact order, parenting order, separation/divorce papers, etc. Minor children have a right to have their own personal information protected.

c.    If you request your own personal information, go the section above.

If you have any questions about what is required for accessing another person’s personal information, directly call the FOIP Office of the Public Body you believe has the information you want.

4.     Send your request to the FOIP Office of the Public Body that you believe has the information.

         a. There is no fee to start a request for personal information, but if the cost of photocopying is more than $10 (40 pages) you will be notified.

To minimize potential fees, only request the records that you want. For example, you may eliminate exact duplicates when possible, eliminate draft documents, or eliminate email records which are duplicated in the final/longest email string when possible.

         bRecords are provided when the fees are paid in full. Final fees will be assessed and may be adjusted when the processing is complete. The FOIP Office will advise you of the balance owing.

         c. To clarify your request or check its status, contact the FOIP Office that is processing your request.

5.     What to Expect:

Public bodies receive requests during business hours only. Requests that are submitted to the public body outside of business hours are considered to be received on the next business day.

Public bodies have an initial time period of 30 calendar days to respond to a FOIP request, but may take additional time as may be allowed by the FOIP Act and/or the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

REMEMBER: A public body’s FOIP Office needs:

-       Your contact information

-       A clear and detailed description of the records or information you want (and it may need proof you have the authority or right to access someone else’s personal information)

-       Any required fees

-       Any authorization that may be necessary

A FOIP Office processes your request when it receives all of the above during its business hours.

The Health Information Act (HIA) governs the collection, use and disclosure of a person’s health information.
If you want to access someone else’s health information, please contact the Health Information Act Help Desk at hiahelpdesk@gov.ab.ca or 780-427-8089 (or toll free in Alberta by dialing 310-0000 then 780-427-8089) to discuss your request.

Correction Request (Your own personal information)

A request to correct personal information is a written request to correct records of a personal nature about you when you think there has been an error or omission. Examples of where your personal information may be found are child and family services files, adoption records, etc.

You can often correct personal information without having to make a formal FOIP requestFind a FOIP Office to find out how best to request correction of the information in question.

1.     Fill out a FOIP Request to Correct Personal Information Form OR write your request in a letter:

a.     Describe the information you want changed and on what records the information appears.

b.    Include enough detail so the right records can be found (like dates or date ranges, agency or institution names, form names, etc.).

2.     Send your request to the FOIP office of the Public Body you believe has the information.

a.     You do not have to pay a fee to correct personal information.

3.     What to Expect:

Public bodies receive requests during business hours only. Requests that are submitted to the public body outside of business hours are considered to be received when the office reopens for business.

A public body must not correct an opinion, including a professional or expert opinion.

If a public body makes no correction as a result of a request for a correction under the FOIP Act, the public body must annotate or link the personal information within the record to show that the request was made and why the correction was not done, where it is relevant to do so.

Public bodies must respond within 30 calendar days of a receiving a request to correct personal information.

 

REMEMBER: A public body’s FOIP Office needs:

-       Your contact information

-       A clear and detailed description of the records or information you want to correct, and the correct information

-       Any required fees

-       Any authorization that may be necessary

A FOIP Office processes your request when it receives all of the above during its business hours.