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 5 • Government documents often contain information vital to the effective participation of citizens and organizations in government decision-making. • (As) government has become the single most important storehouse of information about our society, information that is developed at public expense so should be publicly available wherever possible.10 Since the Access to Information Act came into force, provincial and territorial governments have enacted their own access to information and protection of privacy legislation. Many of those provincial instruments have included a more comprehensive purpose clause. Those purpose clauses tend to reflect and reinforce the approach taken by the federal Information Commissioner and numerous decisions of superior courts in Canada. A good example is section 2 of the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act: 2(1) The purposes of this Act are to make public bodies more accountable to the public and to protect personal privacy by (a) giving the public a right of access to records, (b) giving individuals a right of access to, and a right to request corrections of, personal information about themselves, (c) specifying limited exceptions to the rights of access, (d) preventing the unauthorized collection, use or disclosure of personal information by public bodies, and (e) providing for an independent review of decisions made under this Act.11 This summarizes and clearly identifies the purpose of legislation such as FOIP. The Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner (SK OIPC) deals with requests for review and privacy breach complaints by reference to these same five purposes, which are outlined below.12 1. The Right of Access to Records FOIP establishes a right of access by any person to records in the possession or control of a government institution. 10 Roberts, Honourable John. Secretary of State. June 1977. Legislation on Public Access to Government Documents, Government of Canada, Ministry of Supply and Services Canada at pp. 1 and 3. See also SK OIPC Review Report F-2004-003 at [9]. There is a typo in the report “1997” should be “1977”. 11 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c 165 at subsection 2(1). 12 SK OIPC Review Report F-2004-003 at [9].