FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
Access to Information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Many documents in the custody and control of the Township of Scugog are public documents and are subject to routine disclosure to the general public - photocopying and search charges may apply. However, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act requires that municipalities protect the privacy of an individual's personal information existing in government records. The Act also gives individuals the right to request their own personal information. Information with respect to the operations of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is available at www.accessandprivacy.gov.on.ca.Access and Privacy Office - Ministry of Government Services
How to Access Information in the Custody and Control of the Municipality
Persons wishing to access any records in the custody and control of the Municipality are encouraged to first contact the municipality to determine if the request is available through routine disclosure or if the request requires a formal written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This Act provides a formal, regulated procedure for reviewing access requests and identifies a number of mandatory and discretionary exemptions to the types of records that may be accessed by the general public. It also provides the Township with a systematic way to track resources. The Act also provides for the appeal of any access decision made by the municipality. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario administers such appeals.
In the Township of Scugog, the Clerk has been delegated the responsibility for the day to day administration of the Act. In other words, the Clerk is responsible for:
- Meeting time limits and notification requirements of the Act;
- Making decisions about the disclosure of information and records and responding to access requests;
- Considering representations from third parties who may be affected by the release of records;
- Determining the method of disclosing records;
- Calculating and collecting fees;
- Responding to requests for correction of personal information;
- Defending decisions made under the Act as a result of an appeal.
Requests pertaining to accessing the general records of the municipality under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act should be directed to:
Township of Scugog
181 Perry Street
PORT PERRY, Ontario
Attention: Township Clerk
In accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, a person seeking access to a record shall:
- Make a written request to the municipality using the Request Form;
- Provide sufficient information and detail to enable the municipality to identify and locate the appropriate record(s); and
- Pay the prescribed fee at the time of making the request. At present the fee is $5.00.
Information and Privacy Commission of Ontario
Please note that additional costs may be associated with the preparation of records. Estimates will be provided if anticipated fees are $25.00 or more.
For more information regarding the Act, please contact:
The Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
2 Bloor Street East
What Happens When you Submit a Form?
- The Municipal Clerk contacts the Department that would have the records you have requested, asking them to locate the records and forward them for view.
- The Clerk then reviews the records to determine whether they contain any confidential information as outlined in the Act.
- Confidential information is referred to in the Act as exemptions from the public's right of access to information.
- A letter is prepared advising which of the requested records you are permitted to access. In many cases, the letter will grant access in full, in which case you will either receive a copy of the records with the letter or, if there are fees applicable to your request, a fee estimate. Fees must be paid before you can receive a copy of the records.
- In other cases, the letter will grant access in part and will state the exemption used to deny access to some of the records.
- The copy of the records you receive will be blacked out to indicate the information which has been denied. In some cases, access will be denied in full, and you will be advised which exemption under the Act has been applied. If access is denied, you will be advised how to appeal the Clerk's decision.
- The Township must respond to your request within 30 days of receiving your request with the $5.00 application fee. In exceptional cases, where your request is for a large number of records, requires an extensive search, or consultation with an external third party, the time limit can be extended however, you will be advised of any time extension that may be required.
Freedom of Information does not include the right to require the municipality to provide answers to specific questions, only to a right of access to an existing document on which information has been recorded. The municipality is under no legal obligation to provide detailed responses to questions from members of the public. Requests received in the form of questions will not be processed as Freedom of Information requests. Questions of this nature should be sent to the appropriate Department for response. Responses to questions or routine requests by the public are the responsibility of the various departments in the organization.
The municipality is not obliged to create a record in response to a request, except in limited circumstances where the record can reasonably be created from an existing computer system. Your right under the Act is to information contained in a record existing at the time of the request.
Mandatory Exemptions under the Act
Mandatory exemptions require the municipality to deny access to a record. This list includes:
- Information received in confidence from another government
- Financial or commercial information supplied in confidence where providing the information could harm the interests of another party
- Personal information about individuals other than yourself, if the disclosure would constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy
Discretionary Exemptions under the Act
Discretionary Exemptions allow the municipality to decide whether it should deny access to the requested record. They include:
- Draft by-laws and records of closed meetings of Council or its committees
- Advice or recommendations of an employee or consultant
- By-law enforcement matters
- Release of information that could harm the financial or other interests of the municipality
- Information under solicitor-client privilege, such as legal advice
- Information which could endanger the health and safety of an individual
- Information already available to the pubic through another means, or soon to be published.
Certain records are not available through freedom of information. These include:
- Records placed in the Township Archives by a private individual or organization
- Employment related matters
If you are not satisfied with the access decision by the municipality, you can appeal the decision in writing to the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario. The municipality has 30 calendar days from the date of receipt to respond to your request. If you haven't received a decision letter and 30 days have passed, you can appeal this too.
The Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario is appointed by the Ontario Legislative Assembly. The Commissioner makes impartial decisions under MFIPPA.
To appeal a decision made by the municipality you must, within 30 calendar days of receiving the decision, write to the Commissioner's office indicating you are appealing the municipality's decision.
Your letter should include a copy of your original request for information and a copy of the municipality's decision letter. Forward your request for an appeal together with the appropriate fee to the Commissioner's office at the address stated above.
If you are appealing a request for access to your personal information or a correction to your personal information, the mandatory appeal fee is $10.00.
If you are appealing a request for access to general records, the mandatory appeal fee is $25.00.
The appeal fee must accompany your request to appeal and may be paid by cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance.
QUESTIONS? PLEASE VIEW THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS