Openness with Information
Openness – making sure that policies and practices about how information is managed within government are available to individuals – is a key element of every recognized standard information and privacy code worldwide. Governments must not only be open with information, they must also be open about telling people how open they are. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario (IPC) has consistently encouraged openness with government information in its oversight of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and its public policy work with government institutions.
Both FIPPA and MFIPPA establish a right of access for individuals to government records, unless they fall under an exemption, as well as the right for individuals to appeal to the IPC if a freedom of information request is refused. Given that default right of access, the Commissioner has urged government to establish a “culture of openness,” including a practice known as Routine Disclosure/Active Dissemination or RD/AD.
The Personal Health Information Protection Act, the third statute under the oversight of the IPC, does not include freedom of information; government institutions that are health information custodians are also covered by FIPPA or MFIPPA and their general records may be accessed under those laws. Personal health information can only be accessed by the individual or his or her substitute decision-maker, without express consent and is NOT available to the general citizen.
IPC Practices No. 22 – Routine Disclosure/Active Dissemination (RD/AD) of Government Information
Opening the Window to Government: how e-RD/AD Promotes Transparency, Accountability, and Good Governance
Enhancing Access to Information: RD/AD Success Stories
Towards a Culture of Openness, IPC Perspectives
Promoting Transparency through the Electronic Dissemination of Information
Routine Disclosure/Active Dissemination: A Best Practice in the City of Mississauga
I’m Sorry, this Meeting is Closed to the Public: Why we Need Comprehensive Open Meetings Legislation in Canada
Making Municipal Government More Accountable: The Need for an Open Meetings Law in Ontario
Submission to the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills: Bill 123, the Transparency in Public Matters Act, 2004