Introducing the NEW Guide to FOIP!

December 18, 2019 - Alyx Larocque, Analyst

Attention all FOIP Coordinators! We have just launched a revised and improved version of the resource IPC Guide to Exemptions. The new version is titled IPC Guide to FOIP. This blog will provide a bit of history, why the revision was needed, and let you know the timeline for the new Guide.

In the spring of 2015, our office issued its first resource of this kind. The IPC Guide to Exemptions was born from a recognition that FOIP Coordinators needed more clarity from our office in terms of what was needed by our office when applying various exemptions under Part III of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP). The guide was part of a broader goal to make things more clear which included streamlining our reports and issuing The Rules of Procedure.

The earlier version of the IPC Guide to Exemptions provided tests and definitions that our office relied on when conducting reviews. Prior to this resource, tests and definitions could only be found by searching individual reports issued by the Commissioner. As time went on, additional tests, definitions and guidance were added to the resource such as determining possession or control, calculating a fee estimate and handling non-responsive records.

In 2019, it became clear that the IPC Guide to Exemptions had outgrown its original purpose of providing assistance with exemptions and needed a revamp. We began looking across the country at the guides in other jurisdictions. We decided to adopt Alberta’s model for its guide called FOIP Guidelines and Practices. Some of the benefits of moving to this model and revamping were:

  • it would have a dedicated page on our website that would be easy to navigate;
  • it would cover all Parts of FOIP and LA FOIP;
  • each Act would have its own guide;
  • rather than one giant guide covering each Act, there would be smaller chapters that would be easier to navigate; and
  • footnotes would be enhanced so base cases and source documents could be followed.

With a new vision in place, we went to work drafting the chapters. Yesterday, we posted Chapters 1 and 4 of the IPC Guide to FOIP. We plan to have Chapters 2 and 3 posted in January and February. Chapters 5 and 6 will follow in 2020.

Once all six chapters of the IPC Guide to FOIP are completed, we will be able to post similar chapters for the IPC Guide to LA FOIP. Until that is completed, local authorities can confidently rely on the guidance in the IPC Guide to FOIP as both Acts are substantially similar in many regards.

A couple of things to keep in mind when using the guide:

  1. It is a guide. Every matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis. It is not intended to be an exhaustive authority on the interpretation of FOIP or LA FOIP.
  2. We are open and appreciative of feedback and comments on ways that we can improve or change the IPC Guide to FOIP. Please contact us if there is something you think needs to be reconsidered or included.

You can now access Chapters 1 and 4 of the IPC Guide to FOIP on our website by using the drop down box under the “Resources” tab.

We hope you find it helpful!

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