What is FIPPA?
FIPPA (pronounced fip'-a) is an acronym that stands for the "Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act". This is a law on access to information and privacy that, as of June 10, 2006, applies to all universities in Ontario.
As its name implies, the Act has two main purposes:
- transparency: to facilitate consistent and accountable access to information in public institutions
- privacy: to protect personal information from unauthorized collection, use or disclosure by public institution
These purposes are not new to the University of Guelph. The University has always placed high value on the spirit of disclosure balanced by the proper protection of personal information.
One chief difference that FIPPA brings with it, however, is that access requests or concerns about privacy issues are now subject to review by Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner. The powers of the Commissioner include the ability to order the release of records or the stoppage of personal information collection practices.
This is really where transparency has been taken to new heights under the current legislation. And, broadly speaking, it reflects the current climate of accountability in Canada. The trend is now toward greater accountability and better records keeping.
Regarding “access”, there is no automatic requirement to invoke FIPPA’s provisions; informal inquiries are welcomed as always.
If a person chooses to formally submit a request for information under FIPPA, however, there is a defined process to follow. S/he submits a written request and the $5.00 application fee. Formal requests are processed through the University Secretariat, pursuant to the university's delegation of authority instrument.
For further information or if you have any questions about the legislation in relation to the university please do not hesitate to contact us.
Note to Staff: If you receive a request for information under FIPPA, please contact the University Secretariat immediately for advice on how to proceed. It is vital that there is no delay in proceeding with FIPPA requests as there is a very limited timeline for responses that must be satisfied to meet our obligations under the legislation
Without access to information there is no transparency; without transparency there is no accountability; and without transparency and accountability there is no democracy.
-Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, Senior Lecturer in Law from the University of Dar es Salaam, from the Proceedings of the June 6 Workshop on Current Records Management, Poverty Reduction, and Corruption Control, June 6, 2000.