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Our government has become too responsive to trivial or ephemeral concerns, often at the expense of more important concerns or an erosion of our liberty, and it has made policy priorities more dependent on where TV journalists happen to point their cameras.... As a nation we have lost our sense of tragedy, a recognition that bad things happen to good people. A nation that expects the government to prevent churches from burning, to control the price of bread or gasoline, to secure every job, and to find some villain for every dramatic accident, risks an even larger loss of life and liberty. ~William A. Niskanen, "For a Less Responsive Government," Cato Policy Report, 1996

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PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES LEGAL FORMS ASK A LAWYER

[This Information was current as of 5/94]

THE FREEDOM OF INFO & PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT (the Act) gives the public the right to access any recorded info held by government ministries, Crown corps & other public bodies covered by the Act.

The Act balances the right of access with the legitimate need for confidentiality in limited & specific circumstances. Info may be withheld from access only if it falls under one of the exceptions specified in the Act. These specific exceptions include:

- Cabinet records
- Certain types of law enforcement info
- Personal info the release of which could unreasonably invade the privacy of another individual
- Certain business info supplied in confidence by a third party
- Info that could harm intergovernmental relations.

The Act gives individuals the right to access their personal info held by government, subject to limited & specific exemptions set out in the Act. The Act also protects this personal info from unauthorized disclosure to others. Individuals who have been given access to their personal info may request correction of the info if they believe it to be inaccurate.

The Act establishes an Info & Privacy Commissioner to provide an independent review of decisions on disclosure of info & the management of personal info.

THE DIRECTORY OF RECORDS

The Directory of Records (the Directory) is published to assist the public to access records or personal info held by government. The Directory includes the following info:

* Records in the custody or under control of public bodies in all physical formats (paper, microfilm, computer tape/disk, sound recordings, etc.) For each broad category of records listed in the Directory the following info is provided:

- Title: the full title of the records
- Classification # (in parentheses after the title): the file classification # of the records, if one has been assigned.
- Scope note: a note describing function, uses & content of records.

* Personal info banks in all physical formats. A personal info bank is a collection of personal info that is organized or retrievable by the name of an individual or by an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to an individual. For each personal info bank in the Directory, the following is provided:

- Title: the full title of the personal info bank.
- Classification # (in parentheses after the title): file classification # of the personal info bank, if one has been assigned.
- Location: the name of the branch, program or agency which the collection of info supports.
- Legal Authority: the statute, regulation, order in council, etc. that provides legal authority for the collection of info.
- Info Maintained: the types of personal info included in the info collection (e.g., name, address, birth date, employment history).
- Purpose: the principal purpose(s) for which the info is used.
- Users: the categories of individuals or the organizations that have access to the info, or to whom the info is disclosed.
- Individuals in the Bank: the categories of individuals about whom the info is maintained.
- Retention & Disposition (if established): the length of time that the records are held by the agency; & the disposition action taken on the records after that time.

* Manuals, instructions or guidelines used by public bodies to make decisions that affect the public.
* Major government publications available from public bodies.
* Legislation administered by a ministry.
* Public use records. These are collections of records which are organized with the expectation of public access.
* Retrieval mechanisms to support use by the public are normally in place & user fees may be charged for access. Public use records may be either general operational records or personal info banks.

For general public use records, the following info is provided:
- Title: the full title of the public use records.
- Classification # (in parentheses after the title): the file classificiation # of the records, if one has been assigned.
- Retrieved by: the access terms by which the info may be retrieved (e.g., company name, registration number).
- Access Procedures: the procedures for requesting access to the records, including the locations at which searches may be made, or the mailing address for written requests.

For public use records that are personal info banks, the following is provided:
- Title: the full title of the public use record.
- Classification # (in parentheses after the title): the file classification # of the records, if one has been assigned.
- Location: the name of the branch, program or agency which the collection of personal info supports.
- Legal Authority: the statute, regulation, order in council, or agreement which provides legal authority for the establishment of the collection of personal info.
- Info Maintained: the types of personal info included in the collection of info (e.g., name, address, vehicle registration, details of liens). - Purpose: the principal purpose(s) for which the info is used.
- Users: categories of individuals the organizations that have access to the info, or to whom the info is disclosed.
- Individuals in the Bank: the categories of individuals about whom the info is maintained.
- Retrieved by: the access terms by which the info may be retrieved (e.g., owner's name, vehicle registration #).
- Retention & Disposition: the length of time that the records are held by the public body; & disposition action taken on the records after that time.
- Access Procedures: the procedures for requesting access to the public records, including the locations at which searches may be made, or the mailing address for written requests.

HOW DIRECTORY INFO WAS COMPILED

While guidelines exist for the management of government records & info, it is the responsibility of each individual ministry to administer its own records management program. In providing operational records data for this Directory most ministries relied on the Ministry Records Officer to provide an inventory of records at the primary level.

In order to meet requirements of the Directory as stipulated in the Act, the Info & Privacy office of most organizations then added additional info.

The Info & Privacy Branch of the Ministry of Government Services provided computer software to collect Directory info in a uniform format for each organization. The actual data & records listed for each organization in this printed Directory were provided through the Info & Privacy office of that organization.

HOW TO USE THE DIRECTORY

Administrative Records - Common to Most Public Bodies

The first section of the directory lists administrative records. Administrative records are "housekeeping" records, dealing with functions such as personnel, finance, or facilities management, which are held by most government offices. These administrative records will contain both general records & personal info banks. This section also includes a list of those administrative manuals which are used government-wide.

Alphabetical Listing of Ministries & Crown Corporations

The second section of the directory provides a separate chapter for each government ministry or Crown corporation covered by the Act. The organizations are listed alphabetically, first for ministries, & then for Crown corporations.

The records in this section are "operational" in the sense that they contain the info required by the ministry or other public body to fulfil its mandate or objectives. These operational records contain both general records & personal info banks.

Under each ministry or Crown corporation, the following info is provided:

* Name The full name of the ministry or Crown corporation.
* Head The title, business address, & telephone & fax numbers of the head of the ministry or Crown corporation.
* Access Contact The title, address & telephone # of a contact person in the ministry or Crown corporation.
* Mandate & Organization The purpose of the ministry or Crown corporation, & a description of its organizational structure.
* Organization Units A listing of the major organizational units or program areas of the ministry or Crown corporation. For each organizational unit or program area the following info is provided:
- A mandate statement, describing the major functions & activities of the organization unit or program area.
- A listing of the general operational records used to support the program.
- A listing of operational personal info banks used to support the program.
- A listing of the manuals, directives or guidelines maintained by the organizational unit or program area.

* Affiliated Agencies (listed for government ministries only). A listing of public bodies closely associated with the ministry, which are listed under the ministry heading rather than directly under their own names.

For each affiliated agency the following info is provided:
- A mandate statement, describing the major functions & activities of the affiliated agency.
- A listing of the general operational records used to support the program.
- A listing of the operational personal info banks supporting the program.
- A listing of the manuals, directives or guidelines maintained.

* Govt pubs available from the ministry or Crown corporation.
* Legislation administered by the ministry.
* Public use records maintained by the ministry or Crown corporation.

These public use records may be either general records or personal info banks.

INDICES

There are two indices at the back of the Directory:

- An alphabetical listing (and page # where located) of all ministries, Crown corporations & other public bodies covered by the Act. - An alphabetical keyword index to the titles of all categories of of records, publications, & legislation listed in the Directory. This index enables users to locate info by looking up a subject term.

HOW TO REQUEST GOVERNMENT RECORDS

Government records are normally available through routine channels. Requests for records should be made by contacting the appropriate body.

For cases in which records are not available through routine channels, a request for access to records may be made under the Freedom of Info & Protection of Privacy Act. Each public body covered by the Act has a Director or Manager of Info & Privacy (DMIP) who is responsible for administering access requests & the privacy program.

To contact the coordinator, see the section titled "Access Contact" under the public body.

The following types of requests can be made under the Act:
- Access to general records.
- Access to personal info.
- Correction of personal info.

Access request forms are available from the Access Contact for each public body. You may make a request for access to records without using this form by writing to the appropriate public body describing the info sought, & indicating that you are requesting records under the Freedom of Info & Protection of Privacy Act.

Identify the info you are requesting as clearly & specifically as possible. You can use this Directory to help you identify records containing the info sought, or you can contact the DMIP in any public body for advice on how to proceed with your request.

The completed request form or letter should be forwarded to the public body which is most likely to have the info sought. The mailing address is located under "Access Contact" for each body.

The time limit for response to an access request made under the Act is 30 calendar days. The public body must either provide access to the info requested, or notify the individual in writing that the info is excepted under a specific provision of the Act. Under certain conditions set out in the Act, the agency may extend the time limit for response to a request. The requester must be notified in writing of any extension to the time limit for response.

If you possess a disability which prevents you from making your request in writing, you may contact the DMIP in any public body for assistance in making your request via another format.

FEE STRUCTURE

An applicant requesting info may be charged a fee for the following:

- Locating, retrieving & producing the record;
- Preparing the record for disclosure;
- Shipping & handling the record;
- Providing a copy of the record.

No fees may be charged for the first 3 hours spent locating & retrieving a record or for time spent severing excepted info from the record.

No fees may be charged for request for an applicant's own personal info.

If an applicant is required to pay fees for services, the public body must give the applicant an estimate of total fees before providing the services.

The head of a public body may excuse an applicant from paying all or part of a fee if, in the head's opinion:

- The applicant cannot afford payment;
- The record relates to a matter of public interest, health or safety;
- It is fair for any other reason to excuse payment.

HOW TO REQUEST A REVIEW OF A DECISION

An individual may ask the Info & Privacy Commissioner to review a decision made by a public body in response to a request for access to records or for correction of personal info. Decisions which may be reviewed include a decision to deny access, a refusal to make a correction to personal info, & extension of the deadline for response. Requests for review must be submitted in writing to the Info & Privacy Commissioner at:

Office of the Info & Privacy Commissioner Fourth Floor
1675 Douglas Street
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4
Phone: 387-5629

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