Enhancing Efficiencies: Updates to The Rules of Procedure
Our pursuit of continuous improvement has recently focused on the procedures we follow to process reviews and investigations related to access to information requests and privacy complaints. This included a careful examination of the impact of issuing a draft report and sharing an index of records. We also considered our rules about how and when public bodies can claim that information is subject to discretionary exemptions. Our goal is to ensure that we provide services in an effective, efficient and fair manner – we aim to improve customer service for the public, public bodies and trustees.
To support these goals, on September 1, 2022, updated Rules of Procedure applicable to reviews and investigations under 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) come into effect. The updated Rules of Procedure can be found here. Under these new rules, our office will no longer provide draft reports to public bodies/trustees to review.
Analysts will contact public bodies/trustees before a report is issued if they have any questions or require any clarification regarding the factual circumstances of the review or investigation. In some limited circumstances, our office may exercise discretion to provide excerpts or an entire draft report to public bodies/trustees and invite them to comment on any factual errors before issuing a final report.
Other important changes to the Rules of Procedure include revisions to the Index of Records Form A. This form has been simplified with an emphasis on sequential page numbering and sequential severance numbering. Our office will only share the Index of Records with an applicant or complainant with the consent of the public body or trustee.
Finally, we are also making changes to how and when public bodies can raise discretionary exemptions. For some time, our office has permitted public bodies to claim that other discretionary exemptions apply after they have issued their response pursuant to section 7 of FOIP and LA FOIP. Effective September 1, 2022, we will no longer permit public bodies to claim any new or additional discretionary exemptions following the release of their section 7 responses, except in rare circumstance. We will always consider mandatory exemptions whenever raised.
Similar restrictions will be in place for trustees responding to access to information requests under HIPA. Once a trustee provides a response to an access to information request under section 36 of HIPA, it will not be entitled to claim any additional discretionary exemptions, absent exceptional circumstances.
For further information about the new process, please see the Commissioner’s blog post titled Continuous Improvement at Our Retreat. If you have any questions about the updated Rules of Procedure and how these changes may impact your organization, contact our office at 306-787-8350.