On requesting information under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act


Who can make a request under the Access to Information Act or Privacy Act?

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual present in Canada can make a request under the Access to Information Act or Privacy Act. Individuals who are neither of the above can ask a representative, who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, to make a request on their behalf, provided there is written consent.

How do I make a request under the Access to Information Act or Privacy Act?

To make a formal request, you may complete one of the following forms:

You may also submit a letter, as long as it indicates under which Act the request is being made and the request must include sufficient detail to enable an employee, with a reasonable effort, to identify the records that are being requested. For example, you should include:

  • your contact information (phone number and email address)
  • the timeframe required (e.g. January 1st, 2008 to March 31st, 2009)
  • the titles of the documents required (if available)
  • the complaint file number (if applicable)

Send the completed form and $5.00 application fee (for access to information requests only) to:

Access to Information and Privacy Division
Canadian Human Rights Commission
344 Slater Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1E1

Note: You may also send the completed form by e-mail. However, the application fee for access to information requests must be sent by regular mail or messenger. 

What is the timeframe for responding to access to information or privacy requests?

For requests made pursuant to the Access to Information Act, the Commission has 30 days to respond. However, this period may be extended for a reasonable period of time if the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution.

A time extension may also be granted if consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot be completed within the original time limit. If the required time extension is greater than 30 days, the head of the institution is required under subsection 9(2) of the Act to inform the Information Commissioner of the extension. The requestor will also be given notice of the extension, within 30 days after the request is received, including the length of the extension. The notice shall contain a statement that the individual has the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner about the extension.

In the case of formal requests made pursuant to the Privacy Act, the Department also has 30 days to respond. This period may be extended for a maximum of 30 days if meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution, or if consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot be completed within the original time limit. The period may also be extended for a reasonable period of time if additional time is necessary for translation purposes or for the purposes of converting the personal information into an alternative format. The requestor will be given notice of the extension, within 30 days after the request is received, including the length of the extension. The notice shall contain a statement that the individual has the right to make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner about the extension.

Will my access to information or privacy request be processed faster if I submit it through a representative?

If you choose to hire a representative, your application will not be given special attention, nor can you expect faster processing. The Government of Canada treats everyone equally, whether they use the services of a representative or not.

What is the fee for an access to information request?

Each request filed under the Access to Information Act requires a $5.00 application fee. A requester can either pay by cheque or money order made payable to the Receiver General of Canada. 

Additional fees may be applied when processing a request if photocopying, computer processing or further research is required. (The first five hours of research are included). For more information on applicable fees, refer to section 11 of the Access to Information Act.

What is the fee for a privacy request?

There are no fees under the Privacy Act.

Can requesters obtain personal information on people other than themselves?

To obtain the personal information belonging to someone else, you must submit their written consent authorizing you to receive their personal information. The signed consent must be a written declaration indicating the name of the person giving the consent and to whom the consent is being given.

Can I obtain all the information the government has about me by submitting a request to the Commission?

The Access to Information Act and Privacy Act only permit us to release information that is under our control. If you need information from a different federal department, such as Status of Women Canada, you will need to contact them directly. Please refer to the list of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators.

I have received my information from your department and I am not satisfied with the results. What are my options?

It is the right for anyone who is requesting information from an ATIP office to file a complaint in relation to their request.

For Access to Information Act complaints please send correspondence to:

The Information Commissioner of Canada

30 Victoria Street

Gatineau, Quebec

K1A 1H3

For Privacy Act complaints please send correspondence to:

Privacy Commissioner of Canada

30 Victoria Street

Gatineau, Quebec

K1A 1H3

What are the principles for assisting applicants?

In processing your access request under the Access to Information Act, the Commission will:

  1. Process your request without regard to your identity.
  2. Offer reasonable assistance throughout the request process.
  3. Provide information on the Access to Information Act, including information on the processing of your request and your right to complain to the Information Commissioner of Canada.
  4. Inform you as appropriate and without undue delay when your request needs to be clarified.
  5. Make every reasonable effort to locate and retrieve the requested records under the control of the government institution.
  6. Apply limited and specific exemptions to the requested records.
  7. Provide accurate and complete responses.
  8. Provide timely access to the requested information.
  9. Provide records in the format and official language requested, as appropriate.
  10. Provide an appropriate location within the government institution to examine the requested information.

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