Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Access to Information Act?

The Access to Information Act (Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985, Chapter A–1) came into effect on July 1, 1983.

The Access to Information Act provides Canadian citizens, permanent residents and corporations present in Canada with a basic right to request information in records under the control of federal government institutions. This information is subject to limited and specific exceptions. Please refer to exemptions (sections 13 to 26) and exclusions (sections 68 and 69) of the Act.

 

What is the purpose of the Access to Information Act?

The Access to Information Act sets out three principles governing the relationship between government and the public:

  1. the public has a legal right of access to information contained in federal government records;
  2. although the government may refuse to grant access, its authority to do so is limited to the circumstances described in the ATIA as exemptions or exclusions; the burden of proving that such information is exempted or excluded rests with the institution;
  3. any decision by a federal government institution to refuse access to information can be reviewed by the Information Commissioner of Canada and, ultimately by the Federal Court of Canada.
 

Who can make a request under the Access to Information Act?

To be eligible to make a request under the Access to Information Act you must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or an individual or corporation currently present in Canada.

Extension Order No. 01 (SOR/89-207)
The right to be given access under subsection 4(1) of the Access to Information Act to records under the control of a government institution is hereby also extended to include all individuals who are present in Canada but who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents within the meaning of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and all corporations that are present in Canada.

 

Are there fees for an Access to Information Act request?

Each request submitted under the Access to Information Act must be accompanied by a $5 application fee (cheque or money order made payable to the Receiver General for Canada).

 

How and where do I submit a request under the Access to Information Act?

To make a formal Access to Information Act request, complete Treasury Board of Canada’s Access to Information Request form. You can also choose to send a letter detailing the information you wish to receive. You must state in your letter that your request is being made under the Access to Information Act. You must also include the $5 application fee.

Send your completed form or letter to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON.  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address.

 

Can I submit an online access to information (ATI) request?

Yes, using the following link you can submit your access to information request online.

 

What is the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act came into force, along with the Access to Information Act, on 1 July 1983. The Act is a data protection law, once described as an “information handler’s code of ethics.”

The Privacy Act extends to individuals the right of access to information about themselves held by the government.  This information is subject to limited and specific exceptions. Please refer to exemptions (sections 18, 19, 26, 27 and 28) and exclusions (sections 69) of the Act.  The Act also provides individuals the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, including a basic right to exercise control over the collection, use and disclosure of their personal information.

 

What is the purpose of the Privacy Act?

The Privacy Act  protects the privacy of individuals by outlining the conditions for collecting, retaining, using, disclosing, and disposing of personal information under the control of federal government institutions. It gives individuals (or their authorized representatives) the right to access their own personal information and gives them certain rights to correct or annotate that information.

 

Who can make a request under the Privacy Act?

To be eligible to make a request under the Privacy Act you must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada, or an individual or corporation currently present in Canada.

 

Can personal information be released? What is protected?

The Privacy Act sets out rules for the collection, use, disclosure, protection, retention and disposal of personal information.  Please refer to Collection, retention and disposal of personal information (sections 4 and 6) and Protection of personal information (sections 7 and 8) of the Act.

Personal information about an individual can only be disclosed to someone else with the consent of the individual to whom the personal information relates, or when more criteria (to whom and for what purpose) are met as set out in subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act.

 

What records fall under the Privacy Act?

Any documented material, regardless of physical form or type. This includes anything in recorded form such as videos, cassettes, drawings, diagrams, draft documents, emails, minutes of meetings and memos.

Anything can be requested under the Acts, however, not all material is releasable.

Please refer to question “What other records can be obtained from the ATIP & PR Section at LAC?” for a list of request types that can be submitted to LAC.

 

Are there fees for a Privacy Act request?

   

There are no application fees for requests submitted under the Privacy Act.

 

How and where do I submit a request under the Privacy Act?

To make a formal request under the Privacy Act, complete Treasury Board of Canada’s Request for Personal Information form. You can also choose to send a letter detailing the information you wish to receive. You must state in your letter that your request is being made under the Privacy Act.

Send your completed form or letter to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address, submitted by fax at: 613-992-9350 or by using our new online request form.

 

Can I submit a privacy request online?

   

Yes, using the following link you can submit your Request for personal information under the Privacy Act.

 

How long does it take to conduct an ATIP review?

Both ATI and Privacy Acts allow for a legal response time of 30 calendar days from the date of receipt of an official request. However, this period may be extended for limited and specific reasons identified in each of these Acts. For instance, extensions under the Access to Information Act may be allowed if:

  • the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution; or
  • consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot be completed within the original time limit;

These extensions may also be allowed under the Privacy Act.  Additional time for translation purposes or for converting personal information into an alternative format may also be allowed if necessary under the Privacy Act.

If for instance third party intervention is required, an extension under the Access to Information Act may also be allowed.

 

Despite my request, the archival documents remain restricted. What can I do?

Some information contained in archival government records may continue to be restricted under access to information and privacy legislation. In such a case, you may wish to submit a formal request under the Access to Information Act or a formal request under the Privacy Act. Access to information or privacy requests can also be made using a straightforward letter clearly identifying the act under which the request is being made (Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act) and explaining what records are being sought. A request submitted under the Access to Information Act can be submitted by completing this printable Access to Information Request PDF form. It must be signed and accompanied by a $5 application fee payable by cheque or money order and made out to the Receiver General of Canada.  This form can be sent by mail or delivered in-person at the Client-Visitors reception desk, second floor, Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records (ATIP & PR) Office. If the request is submitted via our online Access to Information Request form, payments are then made by credit card (VISA, MasterCard or AMEX only).

 

What other records can be obtained from the ATIP and Personnel Records Office at LAC?

 

Native claims researcher requesting personal information under paragraph 8(2)(k) of the Privacy Act?

Authorized researchers who wish to conduct native claims research at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) may be granted under paragraph 8(2)(k) of the Privacy Act access to personal information held in archival federal government records under LAC’s control which are restricted under the Access to Information and Privacy Acts.

There are no fees to access archival personal information under paragraph 8(2)(k) of the Privacy Act by authorized native claims researchers. There are, however, fees for Photocopies and Reproductions of restricted archival records that are disclosed under paragraph 8(2)(k).

Native claims researchers must at least 4 weeks in advance:

Send your completed form or letter to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address, submitted by fax at: 613-992-9350.

Once received at the LAC ATIP & PR Office, the request and accompanying documentation will be assessed. If access is granted to the researcher, departmental staff will then retrieve the restricted archival records, review their relevancy to the request, and prior to their disclosure to the native claims researcher, apply any necessary exemptions and/or exclusions according to the Access to Information Act.    

 

Personnel files of former civilian federal employees

When a person terminates his/her employment with a federal government institution that is subject to the Privacy Act, that institution keeps all department files on that person for a prescribed period. Once this person's personnel file is sent to LAC, legal control over this file, along with the obligation to respond to any request under ATIP legislation, is also transferred to LAC.

If a former federal employee is re-employed with a federal government institution that is subject to the Privacy Act, the personnel file of the individual is sent from LAC to the new employing institution. Legal control is transferred to that institution, along with the obligation to respond to any request under ATIP legislation.

For a detailed list of LAC's record holdings and groupings of personal information, see Info Source: Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information.

To obtain the personnel files of former civilian federal employees that are under the control of LAC, an online Application for Former Federal Employee Personnel Records form can be submitted, or a printable request form can be completed, signed and sent to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address, or submitted by fax at: 613-947-8456.

Personnel records for the federal public service contain information about the individual's employment history, as well as personal information. Files are retained for 80 years dating from the individual's birth date. After 80 years, all these records are destroyed. A few selected personnel files are retained for historical purposes.

 
I am a former federal employee and I left the public service less than two years ago. Do I obtain my records through Library and Archives Canada?

If you left the public service less than two years ago, please contact the Human Resources unit of the department where you were last employed.

 
I am a former federal employee and I left the public service more than two years ago. Do I obtain my records through Library and Archives Canada?

If you left the public service more than two years ago, your records have been transferred from the department where you were last employed to Library and Archives Canada.

 
To obtain the records of another former federal employee, access restrictions will apply:
  • Access to personal information relating to an individual who is still living requires that person's signed consent.
  • If the individual has been deceased for less than 20 years, limited information may be released to immediate family. Proof of death and relationship must be provided.
  • There are no restrictions on access to information relating to an individual who has been deceased for more than 20 years. Proof of death is required.

Proof of death: A copy of a death certificate, newspaper obituary, funeral notice or photograph of the gravestone. Note that proof of death is not required if the individual died while still employed with the public service.

Proof of relationship: A document that clearly demonstrates the relationship between the individual concerned and the person requesting the record. Both names must appear on the document. A newspaper obituary, baptismal certificate or full-form birth certificate are acceptable. A wallet-sized birth certificate that does not indicate parents' names cannot be accepted. Please do not send original documents; photocopies are acceptable.

 Immediate family: A parent, spouse, child, sibling or grandchild of the individual.

Access to federal public service personnel records can be requested online, or by completing this printable version which must be signed and sent to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address, or submitted by fax at: 613-947-8456.

 

Military service files of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces

For information about military service files, please consult the Military Heritage section of our website.

Access to the military service files of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces after 1919 can be requested online, or by completing this printable version, which must be signed and sent to:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

The request can also be delivered in person at the same address, or submitted by fax at: 613-947-8456.

 

Current restricted operational records of LAC

LAC provides whenever possible access to information (including personal information) in some of its current operational records in a manner consistent the ATIP legislation.  For a detailed list of LAC's record holdings and groupings of federal government records, see "Info Source: Sources of Federal Government Information".

Where some of the content is confidential in nature (e.g. submissions to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat) and requires a consultation with another department, individuals are advised to submit an Access to Information Act request or a Privacy Act request.

 

Current federal government employee with an operational requirement to obtain access to restricted, archival federal government ​records(Departmental Researcher)

Current federal government employees with an operational requirement to access archival government records restricted under the Access to Information and Privacy Acts, but that are now under LAC’s control even though they were created by that employee’s institution or another federal institution should see the following procedures on how to obtain departmental researcher status: Departmental Researchers.

 

What if I have other questions?

Contact the Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office:

Library and Archives Canada
Access to Information, Privacy and Personnel Records Office
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON  KIA 0N4
CANADA

Telephone: 613-996-5115 or 1 866 578-7777 (toll-free in Canada and in the United States)

Fax: 613-992-9350 (access or privacy request for restricted archival or operational records)

Fax: 613-947-8456 (personnel files of former civilian federal employees or military service files of former members of the Canadian Armed Forces)

Email: bac.aiprpdp-atippr.lac@canada.ca

 
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