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Blog

Demystifying Access to Information Rights

September 5, 2023 - Lisa Long, Intake Officer

What rights do members of the public have when it comes to access to information? The right to access information in government records is established at the federal and provincial level.

Federally, the Access to Information Act is overseen by the Information Commissioner of Canada. For more on this, please visit the Information Commissioner of Canada’s website.  The provinces/territories also have access to information legislation. For more on this, check out the Summary of privacy laws in Canada on the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s website.  In Saskatchewan, we have three Acts that give you access to information rights:  The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP) and The Health Information Protection Act (HIPA).

In Saskatchewan, your access to information rights include:

A right of access to records

Under FOIP and LA FOIP, anyone has the right to request access to any record in the possession and control of a government institution or local authority. Information in the records of public bodies defaults to being accessible to the public. That said, the legislation also outlines some limited and specific exemptions to the right of access – these are situations when the head of a public body may or must withhold access to some or all of the information.

Under HIPA, an individual has the right to request access to their own personal health information under the custody or control of a trustee. HIPA does not provide a right of access to policy or process information in the holdings of trustees. Like FOIP and LA FOIP, the default is that you have a right to access your own personal health information – if the trustee withholds your personal health information, they must be able to justify their decision by pointing to specific sections of HIPA.

A right to request an amendment or correction to your own information

If, upon receiving access to your own information, you feel there is an error or omission in the records, all three acts give you the right to request correction or amendment. The right of correction only extends to factual information; generally, it does not apply to subjective opinions noted in the records.

A right to request a review from the IPC

If an individual is not satisfied with the public body or trustee’s response to their access request or request for correction within legislated timelines, they have a right to request that our office review the matter. The IPC will determine whether the public body/trustee responded to the request appropriately under the applicable legislation. If we find that they did not, we will, in most cases, issue a public report with recommendations based on our findings.

If you have questions about your access rights under the Saskatchewan legislation, contact our office – we would be happy to help!

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