Practice Direction

Requesting records from institutions

Upon receipt of a valid complaint, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) will initiate investigative procedures which involve the notification of the federal institution subject of the complaint (section 32 notice) and the request for records. The following sets out the initial investigative procedures and timelines followed by the OIC, depending on the type of complaint.

Type of Complaints

1) Administrative complaint (delay/deemed refusal, time extension, fees):

The OIC will contact the institutional Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator to request that copies of the required records be provided within 10 working days.

This request will be made at the same time as the notice of intention to investigate is issued to the institution to expedite the investigation of the complaint.

2) Refusal complaint (exemption, exclusion, missing records, incomplete response, miscellaneous):


The OIC will contact the institutional ATIP Coordinator to request that copies of the required records be provided within 10 working days.

Exclusions for Cabinet confidences:

The OIC will ask institutions to provide the following documents within 10 working days:

  • The confirmation letter from a person with the delegated authority
  • The consultation letter from Privy Council Office (PCO), Cabinet Confidence/Counsel (CC/C) if it was consulted
  • The list setting out the description and conclusion as required by the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Access to Information Manual (which contains the same information as the previous schedule prepared by PCO/CCC for our office)
  • The responsive records subject to severance for the excluded material

Escalation Procedures

Any failure to provide the records within the required timeline will be considered as a “refusal to provide records” and will lead to immediate action by the OIC. The Access to Information Act makes it an offence to obstruct. Therefore, any unjustified delay will be brought to the attention of a senior institutional official and may result in the use of formal powers such as the collection of records at the premises of the institution or the issuance of an order to compel the production of the requested records.

Last updated: August 2014

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