But I’m the Applicant – how can my submission help?
So, you have requested a review of an access to information request under The Freedom of Information of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP), or The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA). The IPC has opened the file and sent you an email notifying you of the review. However, in the notification email YOU have been invited to make a submission on the matters at hand. You might be thinking to yourself why would I prepare a submission? I want to assure you that there is no onus on the applicant to make a submission – however, it can be helpful.
First of all, what is a submission? In a nutshell, for an applicant, a submission gives you the ability to counter the position taken by the local authority, government institution or trustee if you disagree with the decision they made regarding your access to information request. The IPC has developed the resource A Guide to Submissions – Increasing your chances of success (Guide to Submissions – created September 2020). This resource includes tips for applicants on how to create a submission. In this resource, the IPC has outlined what you may wish to prepare your submission on – depending upon the scope of the review. This includes:
- An applicant disagrees with the exemption(s) claimed to the record.
- An applicant is not satisfied that a reasonable fee was estimated.
- An applicant believes that all or part of the fee should be waived.
- A head (of the local authority or government institution) or trustee failed to respond to the access to information request within the required time.
- An applicant requests a correction of personal information or personal health information and the correction is not made.
- An applicant does not believe that a sufficient search was conducted.
When preparing a submission, if you have any evidence to support your arguments, that can be a great help for the IPC through a course of a review. For example, if the scope of the review includes your belief that an adequate search for records was not conducted and you have evidence of that, provide the evidence as an attachment with your submission. A situation where you may have evidence that an adequate search was not conducted is where you have been provided a copy of an email as part of the response, but the attachment to the email has not been included with the response. For more information about evidence, please see the IPC blog What is evidence in a review?
Pages 25 to 27 of the Guide to Submissions includes a template for an applicant they may wish to use for preparing a submission. However, as an analyst I have received very helpful submissions also in the form of an email – it really doesn’t have to be fancy.
If you would like some additional guidance on what the IPC is looking for in your particular review, contact the analyst who has been assigned the file – you will find that information in the notification email advising you of the review or investigation. If you are not sure who the analyst is, please contact our general inquiry line at 306-787-8350.