What is a Freedom of Information Request and how do I make one?
Any member of the public has the right to conduct Freedom of Information requests to the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC). Freedom of Information requests are requests in writing (letters, faxes, emails) asking for information under the custody and control of UNBC. While the requestor does not need to fill out a form, anyone planning on conducting a Freedom of Information request to UNBC can read https://www.oipc.bc.ca/for-the-public/how-do-i-reqest-records/ for guidance. Make requests to firstname.lastname@example.org to allow the Information Governance Officer to receive and respond to requests sooner.
If you are an employee of UNBC and you receive a request for information from outside of UNBC that is not part of routine requests made to you, please forward the request to email@example.com to allow the Information Governance Officer to assist the requestor.
Internal requests for information between UNBC departments do not need to be facilitated by the Information Governance Officer unless there is a concern regarding restricted access to information or the protection of personal information from either department. Employees at UNBC will only request personal information from other departments that is required to complete their duties to the university or required for the operations, development or evaluation of their departments.
The Information Governance Officer will respond to Freedom of Information requests according to Part 2 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act within thirty business days of receiving the request. In some cases, an extension of an additional thirty business days will be required for requests with a very high volume or complexity of responsive records, or while waiting to receive informed consent from third parties to disclose information.
When a request for information reaches the Information Governance Officer, a call for records is made to all departments specified by the requestor or to all departments that can be reasonably associated with the request by the Information Governance Officer. The information is collected and compiled by the Information Governance Officer and provided to the requestor electronically or through courier. The Information Governance Officer may contact the requestor to clarify the request if the request is broad or vague.
Except in cases when the applicant is requesting their own information only, requests that take UNBC employees longer than three hours of dedicated time to locate and collect records for a response are subject to fees listed in Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation. After UNBC employees spend three hours locating and collecting information for the requestor, the Information Governance Officer will provide the available information to the requestor for free accompanied by an estimate of the fees required to continue locating and collecting the information that has been requested. At this time, a deposit indicated in the fee estimate is due before the process of responding to the Freedom of Information request resumes. Estimates can be adjusted if the requestor decides to refine the terms of the original request. The Information Governance Officer severs information to protect the privacy of individuals at no charge to the requestor and the time and resources required for severing are not accounted for in the fee estimate.
Requests must consist of:
- Date of request
- Requestor's name and contact information
- The type of personal information and/or records being requested - please provide sufficient detail to enable an experienced employee with reasonable effort to identify the required records
- Requestor's preference to receive information pertaining to their request through e-mail or through courier with corresponding contact information for delivery including e-mail address or shipping address.
Requests for personal information about another individual are required to have a third party authorization to release form or statement signed by that individual and submitted as part of the request. There are very few exemptions under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that allow personal information of third parties to be provided without consent.
Important Note to Requestors about Receiving Responses
If you are not satisfied with the response to your request you must first file a complaint to the Information Governance Officer at UNBC through firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you have the right to file a formal appeal with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia. For more information go to https://www.oipc.bc.ca/for-the-public/how-do-i-make-a-complaint/
Correcting Your Personal Information
Individuals have the right to request corrections to their own personal information. Providing individuals with the right to obtain access to their personal information to ensure that personal information is accurate enhances transparency and accountability at UNBC. Individuals also have the opportunity to understand specific personal information a public body has about them and how that information is managed.
Individuals also have the right to request the correction of their personal information when they believe there is an error or omission. The request will either result in the correction of personal information or an annotation indicating the changes requested and why the changes could not be made or the conditions required for the changes to be made.