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How to Make an Access Request

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act), you may ask for access to any record, including your own personal information, in the custody or under the control of a public body.  The access rights under the Health Information Act (HIA) and Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) are limited to your own health or personal information. The right to access any record is subject to limited exceptions under each of the Acts.

You may not need to use Alberta’s access laws to obtain the information you are seeking.  Some information/records are routinely disclosed and there may be other access procedures established.  However, the OIPC has no authority to review a response or failure to respond to an informal access request (that is, a request made outside of the Acts).

To make a formal request for access under the Acts:

  1. You must submit your access request directly to the public body, custodian or organization that you believe has custody or control of the records you are seeking.
  2. Under the FOIP Act and PIPA, your access request must be in writing. HIA allows a custodian to accept an oral request for access but a written request is recommended to document your request.

    It is also recommended that you retain a copy of a written access request made under any of the Acts, as the OIPC may ask you to produce the copy in its review process.

    If your ability to read or write English is limited or you have a physical condition that impairs your ability to make a written request, the FOIP Act allows you to make the request orally. PIPA allows an organization to provide alternate means for requesting access if you are unable to make a written request.
  3. You may ask for a copy of the record(s) or ask to examine the record(s).
  4. Your request must provide enough detail to enable the public body, custodian or organization to identify the information/records you are asking for. 
  5. It is also recommended that your request state that the request is made pursuant to the Acts.  This ensures that all parties are clear that this is a formal access request and that the OIPC has authority to review any response or failure to respond to your access request.
  6. There may be fees associated with the processing of your access request. If fees are to be charged, a fee estimate must be provided to you before your request is processed.  You may ask the OIPC to review whether the fees have been calculated correctly.
  7. You may ask the public body, custodian or organization to waive the fees.  If your fee waiver request is denied, you may ask the OIPC to review that decision.
  8. Public bodies and custodians have 30 days to respond to your request while organizations have 45 days to respond to your request.  However, the time limits for response may be extended in certain circumstances.  You may ask the OIPC to review a failure to respond within the timeframe or an extension taken by a public body, custodian or organization.

Access Requests to the OIPC

The OIPC is subject to the FOIP Act except for records that are excluded under section 4(1)(d).

Section 4(1)(d) excludes records that are created by or for or in the custody or under the control of an officer of the legislature and relates to the exercise of that officer's functions under an Act of Alberta.

An access to information request to the OIPC must be in writing and must provide enough detail to enable OIPC to identify the record.

Note:  OIPC does not accept requests via email.