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”).

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 Help Desk at sa.accessandprivacy@gov.ab.ca

or call 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.

Request General Information

A request for general information 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.

1.     Find out of 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.

 Make a Request for General Information to Government of Alberta Departments Online

(NOTE: This is for Requests for General Information and to the departments of the Government of Alberta only)

2.     To make a general information FOIP request, fill out a Request to Access Information form  OR write your request in a letter:

a.     If using the form, make sure you check the box for “general information”. If you write a letter, be sure to specify your request is for general information.

b.    Describe the information or records you want, with as much detail as possible.

Include enough detail so the right records can be found (like file number, dates or date ranges, agency or institution names, program or services names, report names, record type, etc.).

3.     Send your request and the $25 fee to the FOIP office of the Public Body you believe has the information. For a continuing request, please contact the FOIP Office to discuss the request and any associated costs.

a.     Include the $25 initial fee to start your request for general information. Your request will not be opened until the public body receives this fee. Cheques and money orders are payable to the public body. For provincial departments, these should be made payable to the Government of Alberta.

b.    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.

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

Fees are subject to change, so do not pay more than the 50% deposit until processing is complete.

c.     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.

4.     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.

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 when the office reopens for business.

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.

Request Your Own Personal Information

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

The Health Information Act (HIA) governs the collection, use and disclosure of a person’s health information.

If you want to access your own 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.

To Make a FOIP Request:

1.     Find out of 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 FOIP request, fill out a FOIP Request for Personal Information Form OR write your request in a letter:

a.     If using the form, make sure you check the box for “personal information”.

b.    Describe the information or records you want, with as much detail as possible.

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.

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

If you request 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, see the instructions in the next section below.

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.

3.     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 keep costs down, 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.

4.     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 when the office reopens for business.

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.

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.

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.

To Make a FOIP Request:

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

a.     If using the form, make sure you check the box for “personal information”.

b.    Describe the information or records you want, with as much detail as possible.

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.

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

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

i.    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.

ii.    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.

iii.    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.

2.     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 keep costs down, 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.

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

4.     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.

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.

Correct 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.