FOI Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why have hospitals been added under the legislation?
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) establishes a right for every person to access information held by hospitals, and provides a formal process for people to exercise that right by making a freedom of information (FOI) request. For example, you may request access to records under a hospital's custody or control relating to:
- Administrative and operational functions;
- Financial considerations and decisions; and
- Personal information
There are a number of exemptions and exclusions from the right of access. For example, where the disclosure of a record could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter, it may be exempt from disclosure. As another example, records that relate to the operations of a hospital foundation are excluded from the right of access.
2. Aren't hospitals already covered under the Personal Health Information Protection Act?
Yes, hospitals have been covered under the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) since 2004. However, PHIPA only governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal health information and not other types of information.
Under PHIPA, you are entitled to request access to your own records of personal health information, including hospital records. PHIPA also allows a substitute decision-maker to access records of a personal health information on behalf of another individual in defined circumstances.
3. Who can make an FOI request?
Anyone can make an FOI request. The requester does not have to live in Ontario - or even Canada. The requester need not be a Canadian citizen.
4. Are there costs associated with making an FOI request?
Yes. A $5.00 mandatory application fee must accompany a request for either personal information or general records under FIPPA. There is also a user pay principle associated with FIPPA meaning, a person making an access request must pay some of the costs the hospital incurs in processing the request. Under FIPPA, different fees are applied depending on whether the request is for general records or the requester's own personal information. A fee schedule is available here for viewing. Link to: HHS FOI Fee Schedule
5. What kind of information can be requested?
FIPPA gives everyone a right of access to most recorded information held by Hamilton Health Sciences. The legislation requires that an institution make available for public viewing a Directory of Records housed by the institution and a listing of Personal Information Banks.
The Directory of Records and Personal Information Banks provides the public with a general idea of the types and categories of records created, used and housed by HHS. Please note that records referred to in these listings are not necessarily public and that some or all of a record type or personal information bank may be properly exempt from release under the Act.
6. What if I am not satisfied with the way my request for access to records has been handled?
Please contact the FOI Specialist to address your concerns regarding your access request. If you remain dissatisfied with the response you receive you have the right to appeal a decision to the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) who has oversight for compliance with FIPPA. Appeals must be made within 30 days of when you receive the decision that you wish to appeal.