If you’ve read the IPC’s 2021 Annual Report, you’ll know that my office has set its sights on a vision to enhance Ontarians’ trust that their access and privacy rights will be respected. This vision rests on three key pillars:
- actively advancing Ontarians’ rights in key strategic areas that impact their lives
- responding to complaints and appeals in a fair, timely, and meaningful manner, and
- striving to maintain organizational excellence and accountability of the IPC
To support the second pillar, we’ve undertaken many activities over the past year to streamline our processes. These changes enhance our ability to serve Ontarians in a fair, timely, and meaningful manner — with a particular emphasis on “timely.”
In addition to a successful effort to clear the pandemic-induced backlog, we are undertaking a major review of our tribunal services department to improve customer service and reduce processing times of new files. We’ve also ramped up our efforts to modernize our website and improve digital service delivery in ways that Ontarians have come to expect of us.
As part of our push to become more digitally accessible to Ontarians and provide more efficient services, we’ve launched a new service for filing and paying for appeals online. Appeals under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) can now be filed and paid for securely online, no stamps required. It’s a relatively simple update, but an important one!
The right of Ontarians to challenge an institution’s decision in response to a freedom of information (FOI) request is essential. This right of appeal is key to upholding citizens’ right to know and ensuring public institutions follow Ontario’s access laws.
Until recently, appellants could submit their appeal documents to the IPC by email and pay the legislated appeal fees by sending us a cheque or money order by snail mail. Now, a few clicks (or taps) on your computer, smartphone, or tablet will do. It’s that simple. If you’ve got questions about this new service, we’ve got the answers on our frequently asked questions page.
For those who prefer not to make payments online or aren’t comfortable with technology, we’ll continue to accept appeal forms, supporting documents, and fee payments in the mail.
If you’re curious to learn more about FOI requests and how to file an appeal with the IPC more generally, I encourage you to listen to our episode of the Info Matters podcast on Demystifying the FOI Process. It’s one of our most popular and downloaded episodes!
Access to government information is essential to a healthy democracy. It supports transparency, accountability and civic engagement. The public has a right to know about government decisions and actions affecting them. Freedom of information requests are one of the ways they can exercise that right. By making it easier for people to file an appeal with our office — online, anytime — we hope to encourage Ontarians from all walks of life to exercise their right to know.
This post is also available in: French