Access and Correction

Under Ontario’s access and privacy laws, you have the right to request access to your personal information or general information held by provincial and municipal government organizations, children’s aid societies and other child and family service providers. You also have the right to request a correction of your personal information.

Accessing personal and general government records

Which organizations are subject to Ontario’s access and privacy laws?

 

Which organizations are subject to Ontario’s access and privacy laws?

At the provincial level, the laws apply to:

  • all provincial ministries
  • most provincial agencies, boards and commissions
  • colleges of applied arts and technology
  • universities
  • hospitals
  • children’s aid societies and other service providers licensed or funded under Ontario’s child and family services law

At the municipal level, they apply to:

  • municipalities
  • police services boards
  • public library boards
  • school boards
  • conservation authorities
  • boards of health
  • transit commissions
  • certain municipal electricity corporations
  • certain local housing corporations

(Directory of provincial and municipal institutions)

How do I request access or correction?

 

How do I request access or correction?

First, you should check the website of the government organization to see if the information you are looking for is already publicly available. If the information is not there, you should contact the organization directly and ask for it.

Government organizations may ask you to submit a formal freedom of information request by either writing a letter or filling out a form. These forms are available to download.

If you are requesting general government records, include as much detail as possible and keep your request limited to what you are specifically looking for. Broad and poorly defined requests can take significantly longer to complete.

For information held by child and family service providers, you can ask for access or a correction to your personal information in your file by writing to the service provider. Some service providers may have a form you can use. Asking for access or a correction to the personal information in your file is free.

Do Ontario’s access and privacy laws cover non-government organizations?

Do Ontario’s access and privacy laws cover non-government organizations?

No. Ontario’s access and privacy laws only apply to provincial and municipal government institutions, children’s aid societies and other service providers licensed or funded under Ontario’s child and family services law. If you are denied access to information from private companies, banks, credit bureaus or federal government institutions, you cannot file an appeal with the IPC.

For information held by the federal government, contact the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada.

For information held by private sector organizations, contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Can I be denied access?

Can I be denied access?

Possibly. A provincial or municipal government organization can deny access to the information you requested based on a number of exemptions set out in the law. For example, you may be denied access to records that contain information about closed meetings, police investigations, or personal information about another individual.

For a full explanation and list of exemptions for provincial and municipal government organizations, please refer to the Ontario government’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Manual.

If you are denied access, the institution must provide you with the reason(s) for doing so. If you are not satisfied with the explanation, you can file an appeal with our office. You have 30 calendar days to file an appeal after you have received a notice of denial from the institution.

You can only file a complaint if you were denied access after making a formal, written request. You cannot file a complaint in response to an informal, verbal request.

If you disagree with a child and family service provider’s decision about access to your personal information in your file, you can make a complaint.

How do I file an appeal if I am denied access?

How do I file an appeal if I am denied access by a provincial or municipal government organization?

To file an appeal, download and submit this form or send a letter describing the situation to:

Registrar
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
1400-2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

Correcting your personal information

Do I have a right to ask for correction of my personal information?

Do I have a right to ask for correction of my personal information?

If a public institution has given access to your personal information, and you believe the information to be incorrect or incomplete, you have the right to:

  • request a correction
  • require that the institution attach a statement of disagreement to the information, reflecting the correction that was requested but denied
  • require that the institution notify any person or institution to whom they have disclosed your information (in the past year) of the correction or statement of disagreement

How do I request a correction of my personal information?

How do I request a correction of my personal information?

For information held by provincial or municipal government organizations, you can download and complete the request form or write a letter to the organization to request the correction of your personal information. Make sure you include all the information that the institution needs to correct the record.

Submit the form or letter to the Freedom of Information Coordinator (FOIC) for the government institution that holds your personal information.

There is no fee to have your personal information corrected, and public sector organizations should respond to your request for correction within 30 calendar days of receiving it.

For information held by child and family service providers, you can ask for a correction to your personal information in your file by writing to the service provider. Some service providers may have a form you can use. Asking for a correction to the personal information in your file is free.

Can they deny my correction request?

Can they deny my correction request?

Yes. Typically, an organization or child and family service provider will only correct your personal information if it is inaccurate, incomplete, or vague. An institution or service provider does not have to correct a professional opinion given in good faith.

The institution or service provider must tell you the reason(s) they denied your correction request. If you are not satisfied with the explanation, you can file an appeal with our office. You have 30 calendar days to file an appeal after you have received a notice of denial from the institution.

If you disagree with a child and family service provider’s decision about corrections to your personal information in your file, you can make a complaint.

You can also require the institution or service provider to attach a statement of disagreement to the record. The statement would clearly reflect the requested correction. This may be appropriate if you disagree, for example, with an opinion of another individual about you.

How do I file an appeal if an institution refuses to correct my information?

How do I file an appeal if a provincial or municipal government institution refuses to correct my information?

You can file an appeal by downloading and completing this form or send a letter describing the situation to:

Registrar
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
1400-2 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8

What can I do if a child or family service provider refuses to correct my information?

If a child or family service provider refuses to correct your personal information in your file, you can make a complaint.