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Request Access to Information
Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the FOIPP Act, a PDF), you may ask for access to any record, including your own personal information, in the custody or under the control of a public body. You may also ask for your own personal health information under the Health Information Act (the HIA, a PDF) in the custody or under the control of a custodian. These rights of access to information are subject to limited and specific exceptions under each of the Acts.
What is a 'public body' or a 'custodian'?
Schedule 1 (PDF) of the General Regulations of the FOIPP Act lists all of the public bodies. In general, public bodies are:
- provincial government departments;
- provincial boards, commissions, or agencies;
- provincial crown corporations;
- provincial school boards;
- a few post-secondary educational institutions (UPEI, Holland College, and Collège de l'Île); and,
- a few municipalities (Charlottetown, Summerside, Stratford, and Cornwall).
There is no master list of custodians, but in general, they possess personal health information for care or treatment. Examples are doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, and nursing homes.
How do I make a request for access to information?
If you are making a request under the FOIPP Act, the FOIPP Act requires access requests be in writing, but permits you to make a request orally if you cannot read or write in English or French. You may complete an application to Public Bodies online or in paper form (PDF), then send it to a FOIPP coordinator.
The HIA allows a custodian to accept an oral request for access but a written one is recommended to document your request. If the custodian is Health PEI, Health PEI has a form and general information on their website Health Privacy and Information Access.
In either case, the forms are not required, but if you do not use the forms, please include a statement that you are making the request pursuant to the applicable Act. This should alert the recipient that it is a formal request and is subject to the timelines and other duties under the applicable law, and subject to review by the Commissioner.
You may ask to examine the records in person or ask for a copy of the records you are requesting.
When filling out your application, keep in mind that your request needs to be clear and complete in order for the public body or custodian to respond properly.
How much does it cost?
There is a $5.00 application fee to request access to general records under the FOIPP Act. There is no application fee to request your own personal information, or your own personal health information.
There may be additional fees associated with the processing of your access request. If a public body or custodian intends to charge fees, they will provide a fee estimate to you before your request is processed. The maximum amounts of fees are set out in schedules to the two sets of regulations here:
- Schedule 2 of the Regulations under the FOIPP Act (page 13 of the PDF), and
- Schedule of the Regulations under the HIA (page 9 of the PDF)
You may ask the public body or custodian to waive the fees in certain circumstances, for example if you are unable to afford to pay the fees.
How long does it take?
In general, a public body or custodian must respond to your request within 30 days. They may extend the time for responding to a request for up to an additional 30 days, but they must tell you the reason for the extension, when you may expect a response, and that you have a right to request a review by the Commissioner. For example, the public body or custodian may need to consult with another person or organization before they make their decision about whether any of the exceptions to disclosure apply.
What kind of response will I get?
If the public body or custodian does not have the records that you requested, they will let you know and they may transfer your request to the appropriate public body or custodian.
The public body or custodian will consider your request and will make one of the following decisions:
- provide the records;
- provide the records with some information withheld, or severed (portions may be whited out or blacked out); or
- not provide the records
If the custodian or public body provides the records, they will advise where, when and how you will be able to view the records, or when they will provide them to you.
If the public body or custodian decides to withhold some or all of the records, they should also explain why, and provide the name and contact information of someone who can answer your questions.
What if I don't receive a response to my request, or I'm unsatisfied with the decision?
If you have waited 30 days since submitting your request and have received no response, it is assumed the public body has refused access. You may request (in writing) that the Commissioner conduct a review.