Freedom of Information (FOI) Requests
The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) provides a right to access records held by any organization. The right to access records is subject to limited and specific exemptions, outlined within the Act. The right to access records includes both general records and any records that may contain your personal information. Also, the Act governs how an organization may collect, retain, use, disclose and dispose of personal information which may be found within Town records.
Access to General Information
The Blue Mountains Public Library is an organization separate from The Town of The Blue Mountains, and records and requests for records must be made to the correct organization.
While a formal request may be completed at any time, it is recommended that any individual looking to access records first contact the Library CEO who has the authority to provide information. Records are generally available, unless there are specific reasons why the information cannot be given based on the Act. Where the records are not publicly available, a formal MFIPPA Request form is required.
Access to Personal Information
Every person has the right to see personal information about them held by an organization. A request may be made to see the records and have the information changed if a person thinks that the information contains errors or omissions. To access personal information or request a change to personal information, a MFIPPA Request is required. This includes patron records and employment records.
Once the BMPL receives a request, it will determine whether the correction or addition of information has been granted. Any request denied may be appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner Filing An Appeal - IPC. BMPL cannot directly accept any requests for appeal.
Submitting a Request
All formal requests to see general records or personal information or to change personal information must be submitted to the BMPL designated “Head” which is the Library CEO. Request applications must be submitted with the processing fee of $5.00. This fee is not subject to refund or being waived. No activity will occur on the request until such time as both the application and fee have been paid. Completed MFIPPA Request forms and the application fee should be mailed to:
Blue Mountains Public Library
173 Bruce St S
PO Box 580
Thornbury, ON N0H 2P0
You may also submit a request in person by visiting the CEO’s Office at the L.E. Shore branch. Appointments are recommended by staff may receive the request and process a fee without the CEO present.
Exemptions: Mandatory and Discretionary
Mandatory Exemptions require the head of an institution to refuse to disclose the record. Mandatory exemptions begin with the words: “a head shall refuse to disclose…”
Discretionary Exemptions allow the head to disclose a record, despite the existence of the exemption. Discretionary exemptions are introduced by the words: “(A) head may refuse to disclose…”
Examples of exclusions and exemptions include:
- Cabinet records
- Court records
- Records containing certain law enforcement information
- Records that could prejudice intergovernmental relations
- Personal information that could invade the privacy of an individual
- Certain records supplied in confidence by a third party
- Most labour relations records
Requesters may appeal institutions’ decisions by writing or by filling out an appeal form and sending it to the IPC Registrar at the address on the form.
The MFIPPA Act is founded on the premise that requestors should bear at least a portion of the costs associated with responding to their request. As a result, applicants are required to pay the fees mandated by the Act.
- A processing fee of $5.00 is required for all applications. This fee minimally covers the processing of a request and determining the length of time required to provide information and therefore assess the additional costs. This fee is non-refundable.
- When the cost is expected to be more than $25.00, the applicant will be provided with a Notice of Fee Estimate that will provide a line by line breakdown of the anticipated fees.
- When the cost is expected to be more than $100.00, a deposit equal to 50% of the anticipated cost will be required before any additional work associated with the request will occur.
If the applicant believes the anticipated fees are excessive or unaffordable, the scope of your request should be adjusted. A Notice of Fee will be provided when the process is complete. The cost outlined in the Notice of Fee must be received in full prior to any release of records. If the applicant cancels the request at any time during the research stage, upon completion of the research, or after the records have been release, all payments are non-refundable.
Protecting Personal Privacy
As well as giving access to BMPL records, the MFIPPA Act also requires the organization to protect the privacy of our patrons and employees.
Personal information is collected and used by for very specific purposes that are identified at the time of collection. Personal information will not be used for any other reason than identified at the time of collection, nor disclosed in any circumstance, except as permitted by the Act.
If you feel your personal information has been misused or disclosed in a manner that is inconsistent with the Act, please contact the Library CEO or the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Appealing a Decision
Any decision issued by the BMPL may be appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. Decisions can only be reviewed by the Commissioner's Office and must be appealed within 30 days of the decision being issued by the Library CEO.
To appeal a decision, please consult the information provided by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Prior to filing a FOI, it is recommended to speak with the Library CEO prior. As a public institution we are open and transparent, and can often provide the information without the formality of the MFIPPA and FOI Requests.