How to Respond to FOI Requests

The University's ultimate goal is to satisfy requests for information through routine channels and use the formal access request procedure under FOIPOP as the avenue of last resort. What is our incentive? Quite simply, processing formal requests and appeals under FOIPOP is more expensive and time consuming than providing predictable access to pre-identified categories of information.

For the purposes of the Act, information may be divided into two categories: personal information and general information. Any person (an "applicant") has the right to access and to a copy of personal information held by the University (section 5(1)) subject to exemptions specified in the Act (section 12 - 21). An applicant does not have to give reasons for requesting information.

As an employee of Saint Mary’s University, when you receive a request, immediately contact the office of Suzanne van den Hoogen, FOIPOP Chief Administrator. In specific cases, you will need to transfer the request to her. The FOIPOP Administrator should be copied on all correspondence.

Procedure

Each Academic or Administrative unit will designate a FOIPOP liaison person or persons to whom requests to see and copy records containing information about faculty, staff, students or the University in general may be made. In some cases all staff will need to be familiar with FOIPOP legislation.

An application must be in writing and forwarded to the FOIPOP Administrator for processing according to the FOIPOP Application Process for Saint Mary's University as outlined below.

What to do when you receive a verbal request for information?

  • Ask what information it is the person needs - narrow the scope of the request.
  • Assist the individual as much as possible by explaining what records exist, don't exist and which ones are routinely available.
  • Refer the individual to the FOIPOP Administrator if the request is for records that contain confidential or personal information.
  • Refer verbal requests from the media to the Director of External Affairs.
  • Remember, only written requests are handled under the Act- verbal requests are not incuded. Therefore: 
  • If you must refuse to provide access, provide an explanation or advise the individual to put the request in writing and how to submit it.

What to do when you receive a written request for information?

  • Determine if the request can be responded to routinely.
  • Contact the FOIPOP Administrator without delay if you believe the records contain confidential or personal information.
  • Send a copy of the written request to the FOIPOP Administrator.
  • If you must refuse access, provide an explanation or refer the individual appropriately.
  • Don't disclose records that contain confidential or personal information.
  • Ask what information it is the person needs - narrow the scope of the request.
  • Assist the individual as much as possible by explaining what records exist, don't exist and which ones are routinely available.
  • Refer the individual to the FOIPOP Administrator if the request is for records that contain confidential or personal information.
  • Refer verbal requests from the media to the Director of External Affairs.
  • Remember, only written requests are handled under the Act- verbal requests are not incuded. Therefore: 
  • If you must refuse to provide access, provide an explanation or advise the individual to put the request in writing and how to submit it.
  • Determine if the request can be responded to routinely.
  • Contact the FOIPOP Administrator without delay if you believe the records contain confidential or personal information.
  • Send a copy of the written request to the FOIPOP Administrator.
  • If you must refuse access, provide an explanation or refer the individual appropriately.
  • Don't disclose records that contain confidential or personal information.