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Accessing Personal Information

Under FIPPA and MFIPPA, with some exceptions, individuals have a right to access and request correction of their own person information held by government organizations. Under PHIPA, with some exceptions, individuals have a right to access and request correction of their own personal health information held by health information custodians.

For information on your right to access and/or request correction of your own personal information held by government organizations under FIPPA and MFIPPA, please refer to our brochure, Your Privacy and Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner. For more information on how to access personal information in the possession of provincial government organizations, please refer to the paper, If you wanted to know…How to access your personal information held by the province. For information on your right to access and/or request correction of your own personal health information under PHIPA, please refer to our brochure, The Personal Health Information Protection Act and Your Privacy.

Under FIPPA and MFIPPA, “personal information" means recorded information about an individual. This may include the individual’s name, address, sex, age, education, medical or employment history – and any other information about the individual. Government organizations collect personal information as part of their role in providing services to the public. For example, you give personal information to a government organization when you fill out an application for programs or services, such as a driver's license or building permit.

A Directory of Records for provincial government organizations is available for viewing online at http://www.mgs.gov.on.ca/en/infoaccessandprivacy/index.htm. The directory describes the kinds of personal information kept by each provincial government organization. Municipal government organizations have their own directories, which should be available at offices such as city halls, police departments and boards of education.

In many cases, you should be able to see your personal information and/or request correction of your personal information just by calling, writing or visiting the appropriate government organization. (If unsure of an address or telephone number, consult the Blue Pages in your telephone directory.)

If you do not obtain the information you want, or the government organization refuses to correct your personal information, you should make a formal freedom of information request in writing. You can make a freedom of information request by simply following these steps:

Step 1: Complete a request form, or write a letter stating that you are requesting information or asking for a correction of your personal information under FIPPA or MFIPPA. (Request forms are available from most government organizations across Ontario or you may use our generic Request Form.)

Step 2: Forward the completed request form or letter to the "Freedom of Information and Privacy Co-ordinator" at the government organization most likely to have the information you are looking for.

A $5 application fee must accompany your request for access to your personal information. As well, you may be charged for photocopying and shipping costs. No fees are charged for the time required to locate and prepare records containing your personal information.

Government organizations that receive personal information requests under FIPPA or MFIPPA must respond within 30 calendar days. However, under some circumstances, government organizations may need to extend this time frame.

If a government organization refuses to correct a record of personal information, you have the right to prepare a statement of disagreement and have it attached to the record. You also have the right to appeal any decision made by a government organization in regards to your request for access and/or correction of your personal information. An appeal must be made within 30 days of the government organization making its decision. To appeal, write a letter to the Registrar at the IPC, describing why you are not satisfied with the government organization's decision. Alternatively, you may wish to use our Appeal Form. This form must be completed and mailed to the Registrar at the IPC, at the address on the form.

There is a $10 appeal fee when the appeal involves personal information. For more information on how to file an appeal, please refer to our brochure, The Appeal Process and Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner. The appeal process is outlined in The Appeal Process Flow Chart.

To appoint a third party (other than a lawyer) to act on your behalf during the appeal process under FIPPA or MFIPPA, you may wish to use the form Authorization to Act as an Agent for Appeal.

Under PHIPA, “personal health information” means identifying information about an individual in oral or recorded form, if the information relates to the physical or mental health of the individual. For example, personal health information includes family health history, information about visits to your doctor and your Ontario health card number. Health information custodians collect your personal health information during the course of providing health care services to you.

Under PHIPA, requests for access and/or correction of personal health information should be directed to the health information custodian that holds the information.

In some cases, you may be able to see your personal information and/or request correction of your personal information just by calling, writing or visiting the appropriate health information custodian. However, the health information custodian may require that you make your request in writing. In making a request to access personal health information, you may use our generic form, Request to Access Personal Health Information (PHIPA). To make a request to correct personal health information, you may use our generic form, Request to Correct Personal Health Information (PHIPA) .

Health information custodians have 30 days to respond to a request. The time frame may be extended for an additional 30 days in certain circumstances. You may be charged a reasonable cost recovery fee for accessing your records of personal health information.

If a health information custodian refuses your request to have a record of personal health information corrected, you have the right to prepare a statement of disagreement and have it attached to the record. You also have the right to complain to the IPC regarding a health information custodian’s response to your request for access and/or correction of personal health information. To complain, write a letter to the Registrar at the IPC describing why you are not satisfied with the health information custodian’s response. For more information on how to file this type of complaint, please refer to our brochure, Access and Correction Complaints - Personal Health Information Protection Act. The complaint process under PHIPA is outlined in our Access/Correction Complaint Flow Chart.

To appoint a third party (other than a lawyer) to act on your behalf re a complaint under PHIPA, you may wish to use our form Authorization to Act as an Agent For A Complaint under the Personal Health Information Protection Act.

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