Guide to FOIP-Chapter 1

Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner. Guide to FOIP, Chapter 1, Purposes and Scope of FOIP. Updated 7 March 2023 11 Unsolicited Information19 An individual may submit personal information on their own initiative without the information being requested by a government institution. Receipt of this information is not considered a collection unless the government institution keeps or uses the information.20 In other words, if the government institution keeps it, it should ensure it has authority to do so under section 25 of FOIP. If not, return it or safely destroy it. In addition, keeping it means the government institution has possession and/or control of the personal information. If a government institution does not have specific authority to collect unsolicited personal information and the information is not necessary for an operating program or activity of the government institution, it is not an authorized collection. The government institution should adopt a policy of either returning the unsolicited information or destroying it in accordance with a transitory records schedule.21 Personal emails of employees22 When a government employee uses their workplace email address to send and receive personal emails completely unrelated to their work, those emails are not subject to disclosure to members of the public who request them under FOIP. The terms “possession” and “control” do not include private communications of employees unrelated to government business. It can be confidently predicted that any government employee who works in an office setting will have stored, somewhere in that office, documents that have nothing whatsoever to do with their job, but which are purely personal in nature. Such documents can range from the most intimately personal documents (such as medical records) to the most mundane (such as a list of household chores). It cannot be suggested that employees of an institution governed by FOIP are themselves subject to that legislation in respect of any piece of personal material 19 From Guide to FOIP, Chapter 6: “Protection of Privacy” at Section 25, Unsolicited Information. 20 Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, Information, Privacy and Archives, Freedom of Ontario Information and Protection of Privacy Manual at p. 140. Available at Accessed December 1, 2022. See also SK OIPC Investigation Reports F-2012-002 at [61] and F-2012-004 at [77]. 21 Service Alberta, FOIP Guidelines and Practices: 2009 Edition, Chapter 7, p. 239. See also SK OIPC Investigation Report F-2012-002 at [60]. 22 The issue of possession & control can come up when it involves the personal emails or records of employees. In addition to the references noted in this section below, see also Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union v Unifor Local 481, 2015 CanLII 28482 (SK LA).