As discussed earlier in this manual, the legislation provides individuals with a right to request access to their own personal information in the custody and control of institutions. Like requests for general records, this right of access is subject to limited and defined exemptions. Individuals may also request institutions to correct their own personal information in the custody or control of the institution.

Requests for one’s own personal information are referred to as a “personal information requests.” Requests to correct one’s own personal information are referred to as “correction requests.”

This chapter outlines considerations specific to personal information requests and correction requests. For additional information on access request processing requirements, refer to Chapter 6: Managing the Request Process.

Applying the Legislation for Personal Information Requests

As discussed in Chapter 6: Managing the Request Process, Coordinators must ensure requests contain enough information for an experienced employee to locate a record; coordinate a search for responsive records; and review responsive records to determine if relevant exemptions and exclusions apply to the records.

In personal information requests, there are some additional considerations. To assess how the legislation applies to responsive records within the context of a personal information request, the basic steps include:

  1. Determine if any exclusions apply. If yes, do not go to the steps that follow.
  2. Determine if the definition of personal information is met.
  3. Determine if exemptions to an individual’s right of access to one’s own personal information may apply to the record.
    • Exemptions to the right of access are outlined in the legislation and discussed in greater detail in the sections below.
    • If yes, determine if the criteria and tests for each relevant exemption are met.
  4. Determine if additional legal tests apply and the criteria are met.
  5. Determine if the record has personal information of an individual other than the requester.
    • If yes, determine if disclosure would result in an unjustified invasion of privacy.
  6. Complete the exercise of discretion if any discretionary exemptions have been considered to apply to a record.

The relevant factors and issues of each step are discussed further below.

Exemptions to the Right of Access to One’s Own Personal Information

FIPPA s. 49 (a) / MFIPPA s. 38 (a)

The legislation outlines that while individuals have a general right of access to their own personal information, there are limited and defined exemptions to this general right of access. The legislation sets out which specific exemptions apply to personal information requests. The majority of the exemptions apply to personal information requests. The exemptions that apply are:

  • Draft by-laws and closed municipal meetings;
  • Cabinet records;
  • Advice to government/Advice or recommendations;
  • Law enforcement;
  • Civil Remedies Act;
  • Prohibiting Profiting from Recounting Crimes Act;
  • Relations with other governments;
  • Relations with Aboriginal communities;
  • Defence;
  • Third party information;
  • Economic and other interests
  • Solicitor-client privilege;
  • Danger to safety or health; and
  • Information soon to be published.

See Chapter 5: Exemptions and Exclusions, for more information on how these exemptions are defined. Further discussions on any exceptions or legal tests that may apply to an exemption are also discussed in that chapter.

Personal Information of Other Individuals

FIPPA s. 49 (b) / MFIPPA s. 38 (b)

In addition to the identified exemptions, the legislation specifies that an institution may withhold a record where disclosure might constitute an unjustified invasion of privacy of an individual other than the requester.

See Chapter 5: Exemptions and Exclusions for a detailed discussion on the personal privacy exemption and determining when the disclosure of information would constitute an unjustified invasion of privacy.

Other Exemptions

FIPPA s. 49 (c) to (f) / MFIPPA s. 38 (c) to (e)

The legislation also identifies specific types of records or personal information that are exempt.

Correctional records: This exemption applies if the record is from a correctional facility and could reasonably be expected to reveal information supplied in confidence.

Confidential evaluative or opinion material relating to awarding government contracts or other benefits: This exemption applies to confidential evaluative or opinion material compiled solely for the purpose of awarding Government contracts or other benefits. This exemption applies where releasing the record would identify a source that provided information to the institution and where it was reasonably assumed that their identity was expected to be held in confidence.

Other confidential and evaluative opinion material: This exemption protects information that is evaluative or opinion material that is supplied explicitly or implicitly in confidence solely for the purpose of:

  • Assessing teaching materials or research of an employee or associated person of an educational institution or hospital (FIPPA only);
  • Determining admission to an academic program of an educational institution or hospital (FIPPA only); or
  • Determining suitability for an honour or award (both FIPPA and MFIPPA).

Medical information: This exemption applies to personal information that could reasonably be expected to prejudice the mental or physical health of the requester.

Correcting One’s Own Personal Information

FIPPA s. 47 (2) / MFIPPA s. 36 (2)

The legislation provides an individual who is given access to their personal information through the access request process, the right to request correction of the information. The IPC has found that there are three factors to consider in a correction request:

  • The information must be personal information;
  • The information must be inexact, incomplete or ambiguous; and
  • The information is not opinion material provided by another individual.

Opinion material that is provided by someone other than the individual requesting the correction is not usually subject to correction. Opinion material can be changed where it can be demonstrated that it was inaccurately recorded.

A head must determine whether the information submitted for correction can be verified and if so approve the correction. If the correction is made, the requester should be notified with a copy of the corrected record.

If the correction is not made, the individual can require the institution to attach a “statement of disagreement” to the information. The statement of disagreement identifies the correction was requested but was not made.

Further, the requester should be informed of the reasons the institution refused to make the correction and informed of the right to:

  • Appeal the decision to the IPC;
  • Require that a statement of disagreement be attached to the information; or
  • Have the statement of disagreement provided to any person or body to whom the personal information was disclosed in the last 12 months.

Comprehensible Form

FIPPA s. 48 (4) / MFIPPA s. 37 (4)

In a response to a request from an individual for their own personal information, institutions should ensure that the personal information is provided in a comprehensible form. Sometimes personal information may be stored or used in a way that is not easily understood by the requester.

For example, institutions may be required to translate the language used in personal information records; increase font sizes to assist individuals with visual impairments; or take other actions to make the record comprehensible to the requester.


Ontario Central Forms Repository: Access or Corrections Request Form

Appendix 4.19 - Letter to Requester – Decision Approving Correction of Personal Information

Appendix 4.20 - Letter to Requester – Decision Denying Correction of Personal Information