Municipal Freedom of Information and Privacy Act
Ontario, Chapter M.56

PART I -- FREEDOM OF INFORMATION


ACCESS TO RECORDS

Right of access
4. (1) Every person has a right of access to a record or a part of a record in the custody or under the control of an institution unless the record or part falls within one of the exemptions under sections 6 to 15 .
Severability of record
(2) Where an institution receives a request for access to a record that contains information that falls within one of the exemptions under sections 6 to 15 , the head shall disclose as much of the record as can reasonably be severed without disclosing the information that falls under one of the exemptions. [R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, s. 4.]

Obligation to disclose
5. (1) Despite any other provision of this Act, a head shall, as soon as practicable, disclose any record to the public or persons affected if the head has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that it is in the public interest to do so and that the record reveals a grave environmental, health or safety hazard to the public.
Notice
(2) Before disclosing a record under subsection (1), the head shall cause notice to be given to any person to whom the information in the record relates, if it is practicable to do so.
Contents of notice
(3) The notice shall contain,
(a) a statement that the head intends to release a record or a part of a record that may affect the interests of the person;
(b) a description of the contents of the record or part that relate to the person; and
(c) a statement that if the person makes representations forthwith to the head as to why the record or part should not be disclosed, those representations will be considered by the head.
Representations
(4) A person who is given notice under subsection (2) may make representations forthwith to the head concerning why the record or part should not be disclosed. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.5.]

EXEMPTIONS

Draft by-laws, etc.
6. (1) A head may refuse to disclose a record,
(a) that contains a draft of a by-law or a draft of a private bill; or
(b) that reveals the substance of deliberations of a meeting of a council, board, commission or other body or a committee of one of them if a statute authorizes holding that meeting in the absence of the public.
Exception
(2) Despite subsection (1), a head shall not refuse under subsection (1) to disclose a record if,
(a) in the case of a record under clause (1)(a), the draft has been considered in a meeting open to the public;
(b) in the case of a record under clause (1)(b), the subject-matter of the deliberations has been considered in a meeting open to the public; or
(c) the record is more than twenty years old. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.6.]

Advice or recommendations
7. (1) A head may refuse to disclose a record if the disclosure would reveal advice or recommendations of an officer or employee of an institution or a consultant retained by an institution.
Exception
(2) Despite subsection (1), a head shall not refuse under subsection (1) to disclose a record that contains,
(a) factual material;
(b) a statistical survey;
(c) a report by a valuator;
(d) an environmental impact statement or similar record;
(e) a report or study on the performance or efficiency of an institution;
(f) a feasibility study or other technical study, including a cost estimate, relating to a policy or project of an institution;
(g) a report containing the results of field research undertaken before the formulation of a policy proposal;
(h) a final plan or proposal to change a program of an institution, or for the establishment of a new program, including a budgetary estimate for the program;
(i) a report of a committee or similar body within an institution, which has been established for the purpose of preparing a report on a particular topic;
(j) a report of a body which is attached to an institution and which has been established for the purpose of undertaking inquiries and making reports or recommendations to the institution;
(k) the reasons for a final decision, order or ruling of an officer or an employee of the institution made during or at the conclusion of the exercise of discretionary power conferred by or under an enactment or scheme administered by the institution.
Idem
(3) Despite subsection (1), a head shall not refuse under subsection (1) to disclose a record if the record is more than twenty years old. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.7.]

Law enforcement
8. (1) A head may refuse to disclose a record if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to,
(a) interfere with a law enforcement matter;
(b) interfere with an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding or from which a law enforcement proceeding is likely to result;
(c) reveal investigative techniques and procedures currently in use or likely to be used in law enforcement;
(d) disclose the identity of a confidential source of information in respect of a law enforcement matter, or disclose information furnished only by the confidential source;
(e) endanger the life or physical safety of a law enforcement officer or any other person;
(f) deprive a person of the right to a fair trial or impartial adjudication;
(g) interfere with the gathering of or reveal law enforcement intelligence information respecting organizations or persons;
(h) reveal a record which has been confiscated from a person by a peace officer in accordance with an Act or regulation;
(i) endanger the security of a building or the security of a vehicle carrying items, or of a system or procedure established for the protection of items, for which protection is reasonably required;
(j) facilitate the escape from custody of a person who is under lawful detention;
(k) jeopardize the security of a centre for lawful detention; or
(l) facilitate the commission of an unlawful act or hamper the control of crime.
Idem
(2) A head may refuse to disclose a record,
(a) that is a report prepared in the course of law enforcement, inspections or investigations by an agency which has the function of enforcing and regulating compliance with a law;
(b) that is a law enforcement record if the disclosure would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament;
(c) that is a law enforcement record if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to expose the author of the record or any person who has been quoted or paraphrased in the record to civil liability; or
(d) that contains information about the history, supervision or release of a person under the control or supervision of a correctional authority.
Refusal to confirm or deny existence of record
(3) A head may refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a record to which subsection (1) or (2) applies.
Exception
(4) Despite clause (2)(a), a head shall disclose a record that is a report prepared in the course of routine inspections by an agency that is authorized to enforce and regulate compliance with a particular statute of Ontario.
Idem
(5) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to a record on the degree of success achieved in a law enforcement program including statistical analyses unless disclosure of such a record may prejudice, interfere with or adversely affect any of the matters referred to in those subsections. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.8.]

Relations with governments
9. (1) A head shall refuse to disclose a record if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to reveal information the institution has received in confidence from,
(a) the Government of Canada;
(b) the Government of Ontario or the government of a province or territory in Canada;
(c) the government of a foreign country or state;
(d) an agency of a government referred to in clause (a), (b) or (c); or
(e) an international organization of states or a body of such an organization.
Idem
(2) A head shall disclose a record to which subsection (1) applies if the government, agency or organization from which the information was received consents to the disclosure. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.9.]

Third party information
10. (1) A head shall refuse to disclose a record that reveals a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence implicitly or explicitly, if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to,
(a) prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization;
(b) result in similar information no longer being supplied to the institution where it is in the public interest that similar information continue to be so supplied;
(c) result in undue loss or gain to any person, group, committee or financial institution or agency; or
(d) reveal information supplied to or the report of a conciliation officer, mediator, labour relations officer or other person appointed to resolve a labour relations dispute.
Consent to disclosure
(2) A head may disclose a record described in subsection (1) if the person to whom the information relates consents to the disclosure. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.10.]

Economic and other interests
11. A head may refuse to disclose a record that contains,
(a) trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to an institution and has monetary value or potential monetary value;
(b) information obtained through research by an employee of an institution if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to deprive the employee of priority of publication;
(c) information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests of an institution or the competitive position of an institution;
(d) information whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the financial interests of an institution;
(e) positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of an institution;
(f) plans relating to the management of personnel or the administration of an institution that have not yet been put into operation or made public;
(g) information including the proposed plans, policies or projects of an institution if the disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in premature disclosure of a pending policy decision or undue financial benefit or loss to a person;
(h) questions that are to be used in an examination or test for an educational purpose;
(i) submissions under the Municipal Boundary Negotiations Act, by a party municipality or other body before the matter to which the submissions relate is resolved under that Act. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.11.]

Solicitor-client privilege
12. A head may refuse to disclose a record that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or that was prepared by or for counsel employed or retained by an institution for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation of or for use in litigation. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.12.]

Danger to safety or health
13. A head may refuse to disclose a record whose disclosure could reasonably be expected to seriously threaten the safety or health of an individual. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.13.]

Personal privacy
14. (1) A head shall refuse to disclose personal information to any person other than the individual to whom the information relates except,
(a) upon the prior written request or consent of the individual, if the record is one to which the individual is entitled to have access;
(b) in compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual, if upon disclosure notification thereof is mailed to the last known address of the individual to whom the information relates;
(c) personal information collected and maintained specifically for the purpose of creating a record available to the general public;
(d) under an Act of Ontario or Canada that expressly authorizes the disclosure;
(e) for a research purpose if,
(i) the disclosure is consistent with the conditions or reasonable expectations of disclosure under which the personal information was provided, collected or obtained,
(ii) the research purpose for which the disclosure is to be made cannot be reasonably accomplished unless the information is provided in individually identifiable form, and
(iii) the person who is to receive the record has agreed to comply with the conditions relating to security and confidentiality prescribed by the regulations; or
(f) if the disclosure does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy.
Criteria re invasion of privacy
(2) A head, in determining whether a disclosure of personal information constitutes an unjustified invasion of personal privacy, shall consider all the relevant circumstances, including whether,
(a) the disclosure is desirable for the purpose of subjecting the activities of the institution to public scrutiny;
(b) access to the personal information may promote public health and safety;
(c) access to the personal information will promote informed choice in the purchase of goods and services;
(d) the personal information is relevant to a fair determination of rights affecting the person who made the request;
(e) the individual to whom the information relates will be exposed unfairly to pecuniary or other harm;
(f) the personal information is highly sensitive;
(g) the personal information is unlikely to be accurate or reliable;
(h) the personal information has been supplied by the individual to whom the information relates in confidence; and
(i) the disclosure may unfairly damage the reputation of any person referred to in the record.
Presumed invasion of privacy
(3) A disclosure of personal information is presumed to constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy if the personal information,
(a) relates to a medical, psychiatric or psychological history, diagnosis, condition, treatment or evaluation;
(b) was compiled and is identifiable as part of an investigation into a possible violation of law, except to the extent that disclosure is necessary to prosecute the violation or to continue the investigation;
(c) relates to eligibility for social service or welfare benefits or to the determination of benefit levels;
(d) relates to employment or educational history;
(e) was obtained on a tax return or gathered for the purpose of collecting a tax;
(f) describes an individual's finances, income, assets, liabilities, net worth, bank balances, financial history or activities, or creditworthiness;
(g) consists of personal recommendations or evaluations, character references or personnel evaluations; or
(h) indicates the individual's racial or ethnic origin, sexual orientation or religious or political beliefs or associations.
Limitation
(4) Despite subsection (3), a disclosure does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy if it,
(a) discloses the classification, salary range and benefits, or employment responsibilities of an individual who is or was an officer or employee of an institution; or
(b) discloses financial or other details of a contract for personal services between an individual and an institution.
Refusal to confirm or deny existence of record
(5) A head may refuse to confirm or deny the existence of a record if disclosure of the record would constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.14.]

Information soon to be published
15. A head may refuse to disclose a record if,
(a) the record or the information contained in the record has been published or is currently available to the public; or
(b) the head believes on reasonable grounds that the record or the information contained in the record will be published by an institution within ninety days after the request is made or within such further period of time as may be necessary for printing or translating the material for the purpose of printing it. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.15.]

Exemptions not to apply
16. An exemption from disclosure of a record under sections 7 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 13 and 14 does not apply if a compelling public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the purpose of the exemption. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.16.]

ACCESS PROCEDURE

Request
17. (1) A person seeking access to a record shall make a request for access in writing to the institution that the person believes has custody or control of the record and shall provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee of the institution, upon a reasonable effort, to identify the record.
Sufficiency of detail
(2) If the request does not sufficiently describe the record sought, the institution shall inform the applicant of the defect and shall offer assistance in reformulating the request so as to comply with subsection (1). [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.17.]

Definition
18. (1) In this section, "institution" includes an institution as defined in section 2 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act .
Request to be forwarded
(2) The head of an institution that receives a request for access to a record that the institution does not have in its custody or under its control shall make reasonable inquiries to determine whether another institution has custody or control of the record, and, if the head determines that another institution has custody or control of the record, the head shall within fifteen days after the request is received,
(a) forward the request to the other institution; and
(b) give written notice to the person who made the request that it has been forwarded to the other institution.
Transfer of request
(3) If an institution receives a request for access to a record and the head considers that another institution has a greater interest in the record, the head may transfer the request and, if necessary, the record to the other institution, within fifteen days after the request is received, in which case the head transferring the request shall give written notice of the transfer to the person who made the request.
Greater interest
(4) For the purpose of subsection (3), another institution has a greater interest in a record than the institution that receives the request for access if,
(a) the record was originally produced in or for the other institution; or
(b) in the case of a record not originally produced in or for an institution, the other institution was the first institution to receive the record or a copy of it.
When transferred request deemed made
(5) Where a request is forwarded or transferred under subsection (2) or (3), the request shall be deemed to have been made to the institution to which it is forwarded or transferred on the day the institution to which the request was originally made received it. [R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, s. 18.]

Notice by head
19. Where a person requests access to a record, the head of the institution to which the request is made or if a request is forwarded or transferred under section 18 , the head of the institution to which it is forwarded or transferred, shall, subject to sections 20 and 21 , within thirty days after the request is received,
(a) give written notice to the person who made the request as to whether or not access to the record or a part of it will be given; and
(b) if access is to be given, give the person who made the request access to the record or part, and if necessary for the purpose cause the record to be produced. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.19.]

Extension of time
20. (1) A head may extend the time limit set out in section 19 for a period of time that is reasonable in the circumstances, if,
(a) the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution; or
(b) consultations with a person outside the institution are necessary to comply with the request and cannot reasonably be completed within the time limit.
Notice of extension
(2) A head who extends the time limit under subsection (1) shall give the person who made the request written notice of the extension setting out,
(a) the length of the extension;
(b) the reason for the extension; and
(c) that the person who made the request may ask the Commissioner to review the extension. R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.20.]

Notice to affected person
21. (1) A head shall give written notice in accordance with subsection (2) to the person to whom the information relates before granting a request for access to a record,
(a) that the head has reason to believe might contain information referred to in subsection 10 (1) that affects the interest of a person other than the person requesting information; or
(b) that is personal information that the head has reason to believe might constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy for the purposes of clause 14(1)(f) .
Contents of notice
(2) The notice shall contain,
(a) a statement that the head intends to disclose a record or part of a record that may affect the interests of the person;
(b) a description of the contents of the record or part that relate to the person; and
(c) a statement that the person may, within twenty days after the notice is given, make representations to the head as to why the record or part should not be disclosed.
Time for notice
(3) The notice referred to in subsection (1) shall be given within thirty days after the request for access is received or, if there has been an extension of a time limit under subsection 20(1) , within that extended time limit.
Notice of delay
(4) A head who gives notice to a person under subsection (1) shall also give the person who made the request written notice of delay, setting out,
(a) that the disclosure of the record or part may affect the interests of another party;
(b) that the other party is being given an opportunity to make representations concerning disclosure; and
(c) that the head will within thirty days decide whether or not to disclose the record.
Representation re disclosure
(5) Where a notice is given under subsection (1), the person to whom the information relates may, within twenty days after the notice is given, make representations to the head as to why the record or part should not be disclosed.
Representation in writing
(6) Representations under subsection (5) shall be made in writing unless the head permits them to be made orally.
Decision re disclosure
(7) The head shall decide whether or not to disclose the record or part and give written notice of the decision to the person to whom the information relates and the person who made the request within thirty days after the notice under subsection (1) is given, but not before the earlier of,
(a) the day the response to the notice from the person to whom the information relates is received; or
(b) twenty-one days after the notice is given.
Notice of head's decision to disclose
(8) A head who decides to disclose a record or part under subsection (7) shall state in the notice that,
(a) the person to whom the information relates may appeal the decision to the Commissioner within thirty days after the notice is given; and
(b) the person who made the request will be given access to the record or part unless an appeal of the decision is commenced within thirty days after the notice is given.
Access to be given unless affected person appeals
(9) A head who decides under subsection (7) to disclose the record or part shall give the person who made the request access to the record or part within thirty days after notice is given under subsection (7), unless the person to whom the information relates asks the Commissioner to review the decision. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.21.]

Contents of notice of refusal
22. (1) Notice of refusal to give access to a record or part under section 19 shall set out,
(a) where there is no such record,
(i) that there is no such record, and
(ii) that the person who made the request may appeal to the Commissioner the question of whether such a record exists; or
(b) where there is such a record,
(i) the specific provision of this Act under which access is refused,
(ii) the reason the provision applies to the record,
(iii) the name and position of the person responsible for making the decision, and
(iv) that the person who made the request may appeal to the Commissioner for a review of the decision.
Idem
(2) A head who refuses to confirm or deny the existence of a record as provided in subsection 8(3) (law enforcement) or subsection 14(5) (unjustified invasion of personal privacy) shall state in the notice given under section 19 ,
(a) that the head refuses to confirm or deny the existence of the record;
(b) the provision of this Act on which the refusal is based;
(c) the name and office of the person responsible for making the decision; and
(d) that the person who made the request may appeal to the Commissioner for a review of the decision.
Idem
(3) A head who refuses to disclose a record or part under subsection 21(7) shall state in the notice given under subsection 21(7) ,
(a) the specific provision of this Act under which access is refused;
(b) the reason the provision named in clause (a) applies to the record;
(c) the name and office of the person responsible for making the decision to refuse access; and
(d) that the person who made the request may appeal to the Commissioner for a review of the decision.
Deemed refusal
(4) A head who fails to give the notice required under section 19 or subsection 21(7) concerning a record shall be deemed to have given notice of refusal to give access to the record on the last day of the period during which notice should have been given. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.22.]

Copy of record
23. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who is given access to a record or a part of a record under this Act shall be given a copy of the record or part unless it would not be reasonably practicable to reproduce it by reason of its length or nature, in which case the person shall be given an opportunity to examine the record or part.
Access to original record
(2) If a person requests the opportunity to examine a record or part and it is reasonably practicable to give the person that opportunity, the head shall allow the person to examine the record or part.
Copy of part
(3) A person who examines a record or a part and wishes to have portions of it copied shall be given a copy of those portions unless it would not be reasonably practicable to reproduce them by reason of their length or nature. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, s.23.]

INFORMATION TO BE PUBLISHED OR AVAILABLE

Publication of information re institutions
24. (1) The Minister shall cause to be published a compilation listing all institutions and, in respect of each institution, setting out,
(a) where a request for a record should be made; and
(b) the title of the head of the institution.
Idem
(2) The Minister shall cause the compilation to be published before the 1st day of January, 1992 and at least once every three years thereafter. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.24.]

Information available for inspection
25. (1) A head shall cause to be made available for inspection and copying by the public information containing,
(a) a description of the organization and responsibilities of the institution;
(b) a list of the general classes or types of records in the custody or control of the institution;
(c) the title, business telephone and business address of the head; and
(d) the address to which a request under this Act should be made.
Idem
(2) The head shall ensure that the information made available is amended as required to ensure its accuracy. [R.S.O. 1990, c.M.56, s.25.]

Annual report of head
26. (1) A head shall make an annual report, in accordance with subsection (2), to the Commissioner.
Contents of report
(2) A report made under subsection (1) shall specify,
(a) the number of requests under this Act for access to records made to the institution;
(b) the number of refusals by the head to disclose a record, the provisions of this Act under which disclosure was refused and the number of occasions on which each provision was invoked;
(c) the number of uses or purposes for which personal information is disclosed if the use or purpose is not included in the statements of uses and purposes set forth under clauses 34(1)(d) and (e) ;
(d) the amount of fees collected by the institution under section 45 ; and
(e) any other information indicating an effort by the institution to put into practice the purposes of this Act. [R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, s. 26.]

[ <== Contents ] [ Part II - Protection of Individual Privacy ==> ]