Information Commissioner’s guidance

Process: Initial request for documentation from institutions

Updated November 6, 2018

When the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) initiates a complaint investigation it notifies the institution (section 32) that is the subject of the complaint and asks for the documentation associated with the request that the OIC requires to commence its investigation.

1. What to submit

Administrative complaints: delay (deemed refusal), time extension, fees

Once the complaint is assigned, the investigator will contact the institution.

If the response to the request has already been sent, the investigator will require a copy of the response letter to close the complaint as “resolved.”

If the response to the request has not been sent, the investigator will ask for a copy of the following:

  • the request;
  • the notice of time extension letter (if applicable); and
  • a copy of the Activity Screen Printout.

When the complaint is a time extension complaint, the institution must also provide a completed Form A (Representations under paragraph 35(2)(b) justifying the legal validity of an extension).

When the institution has not claimed a time extension or the time extension has expired, the institution must provide a completed Form B (Representations under paragraph 35(2)(b) to provide a date for disclosure). 

Refusal complaints

Once the complaint is registered, the OIC Intake Unit contacts the institution to request copies of various documents.

For exemption and/or exclusion complaints (except Cabinet confidences, see below)

  • the complete request processing file (including the Activity Screen Printout);
  • the records at issue (working copies);
  • rationale for exemptions; and
  • names of contacts (offices of primary interest, etc.), if applicable.

For incomplete search/missing records, no records and miscellaneous complaints

  • the complete request processing file (including the Activity Screen Printout); and
  • names of contacts (offices of primary interest, etc.), if applicable.

For Cabinet confidences exclusion complaints

  • the complete request processing file, including the initial consultation letter to the Departmental Legal Services Unit during the processing of the request and their response (please sever the excluded information);
  • the records at issue (working copy) (please sever the excluded information);
  • confirmation letter signed by the ATIP Coordinator (see section 13.4.7 of the TBS Access to Information Manual);
  • list describing the excluded documents and conclusions (see section 13.4.8 of the TBS Access to Information Manual);
  • proof (including date) that the ATIP Coordinator reconsulted the Departmental Legal Services Unit after the OIC issued the current summary of complaint (please sever the excluded information); and
  • an up-to-date copy of the Activity Screen Printout.

2. Deadline for submitting documentation

In all instances, institutions must provide the requested documentation to the OIC within 10 working days.

3. Steps the OIC may take when institutions miss the 10-day deadline

The OIC will consider any failure to provide the requested documentation by the 10-day deadline to be a “refusal to provide records.” The OIC will bring any unjustified delay to the attention of a senior institutional official, which may result in the Information Commissioner choosing to use her formal powers (e.g. to collect records at the premises of the institution or to issue an order to compel the institution to produce the records). It is an offence to obstruct the OIC’s investigations (section 67).