Overview

Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), you have a right to request information from certain public-sector institutions in Ontario.

Anyone can make a request for information — there are no restrictions based on age or where you live.

You can submit a Freedom of Information (FOI) request if you wish to:

  • access general records held by institutions (for example, Ontario government ministries, colleges, universities, agencies, municipalities)
  • request your own personal information
  • correct your personal information
  • access another individual’s personal information (with appropriate authorization or consent of the individual)

When submitting an FOI request, please include a detailed description of the records or information requested. This could include different record formats and media such as:

  • paper records (for example, reports, plans, drawings)
  • electronic records (for example, emails, slide decks, spreadsheets)
  • multimedia records (for example, film, voice recordings, photographs)

Information available to the public is subject to a full review by the Freedom of Information institution or office that receives the request.

How to submit an FOI request

Step 1: Identify the information/records you want

Before you make a request, identify the type of record you need.

The Directory of Records describes the kinds of information held by provincial ministries and agencies under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA).

Note: Not all records listed in the Directory of Records are available through Freedom of Information requests. Additional fees may be associated with requests to access certain records.

Step 2: Identify the relevant institution(s)

If you need help identifying relevant institution(s) for information of interest, refer to the Directory of Institutions to see a list of all public-sector organizations covered under FIPPA or MFIPPA as the request requirements may differ.

Step 3: Complete and submit an official FOI request

Online requests:

  • online requests can be submitted by completing an eRequest form (only for Ontario government ministries or institutions covered under FIPPA)

Requests by mail:

  • you can submit a request by mail to any institution under FIPPA or MFIPPA
  • complete the Access or Correction Request form (or submit a written letter that outlines sufficient information to identify the records you want)
  • if you are submitting an FOI request to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, complete and submit this form
  • refer to the Directory of Institutions for the relevant institution address(es) to submit your completed form or letter

Step 4: Pay the application fee

There is a mandatory $5 application fee for each FOI request.

There is no application fee for a request to make a correction to your own personal information.

Check with the institution you are seeking records from to see what forms of payment are available (for example, cheque, money order, credit/debit cards and in-person options, cash).

Processing fees

Additional fees may apply to process a request. The processing fee is determined by the:

  • type of information you requested (for example, general records or personal information)
  • format you wish to receive the information (for example, paper, electronic or multimedia records)
  • total costs incurred by the institution to produce or prepare the information

You will receive a fee estimate from the FOI office or institution where you submitted your FOI request, if the processing fees will be more than $25. When processing fees are over $100, a deposit may be required.

You have the right to request a waiver of fees if the payment will cause financial hardship or if the information will benefit public health or safety. The FOI office or institution that receives your request for a fee waiver will discuss next steps in the process.

Processing time

Institutions have 30 calendar days to process FOI requests except under specific circumstances. You will be notified if a time extension is required.

Note: If you need further assistance, contact the Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) coordinator at the institution you want information from.

The Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) coordinator can:

  • receive and process submitted FOI requests
  • tell you what information is held by their institution
  • let you know if you can get the information without making a formal FOI request
  • review records held by their institution
  • determine if you can access the records requested under FIPPA or MFIPPA

You can submit a request for information from:

  • Ontario government ministries and institutions
  • Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
  • municipal or regional police services (for example, local detachment, division number) 
  • most public agencies, boards, commissions and advisory bodies
  • school boards, colleges and universities
  • public hospitals
  • municipalities
  • some publicly funded institutions (for example, museums, libraries)

View the full list of public-sector institutions covered under FOI privacy laws in the Directory of Institutions.

Frequently requested information

If you are requesting a police investigation or incident report, property/land information or require assistance with other Ontario government services (for example, licences issued by ServiceOntario) please read below for more information about how to access these records or services.

Police reports including investigations and incidents

Police services in Ontario are provided by the OPP and regional/municipal police forces.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)

If the matter was handled by the OPP, please contact the Ministry of the Solicitor General (SOLGEN) to access police records at:

Ministry of the Solicitor General
Freedom of Information and Privacy Office
200 First Avenue West
North Bay, Ontario
P1B 3B9

You may also submit an FOI request online through eRequest. Select Ministry of the Solicitor General as the institution from the drop-down menu list and include any detailed information in the Description of Records (Section C of the online form). For example:

  • incident report number and description
  • name of police detachment
  • date(s) of record
  • officer or constable badge number
  • date of birth if requesting personal information

If you prefer to complete and submit an FOI request by mail, please include the same information in your request.

Municipal or regional police

If the information you are seeking to access involves a regional or municipal police force or a regional police services board, you can either:

  • submit an FOI request through the municipality’s web page
  • find their contact information using the Directory of Institutions to search for ‘Police Services Board’ and the applicable city or municipality (for example, “Toronto Police Services”)

Please note that FOI requests for municipal or regional police services are accessed through the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). You will not be able to submit a request through the eRequest option.

Property information

You can access property information including environmental concerns (for example, orders, spills, incidents, investigations, certificate or compliance approvals) through the FOI process by submitting a request form directly to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

Licenses and other Ontario government services

The following topics are not handled by an FOI office. For any inquiries or requests please see links below:

File an appeal or make a complaint

You have the right to appeal any decision about access to records (including fees), made by institutions that are covered under Freedom of Information laws. This includes appealing a decision if your request for information is denied.

Appeal a decision

You may file an appeal with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) by:

  • downloading and completing an appeal form (or by submitting a written letter to the contact information below)
  • submitting the form to the Information and Privacy Commissioner Registrar within 30 calendar days of the institution giving notice of its decision

Appeal fees:

  • $10 for requests related to access to, or correction, of your personal information
  • $25 for requests related to access to general records

Learn more about the appeals process

Make a complaint

If you think that your personal information has been improperly collected, used, or disclosed by a public institution, child and family service provider, or by a health sector organization or practitioner, you have the right to make a complaint to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) of Ontario.

You can also make a complaint to the IPC if you feel your request for access to, or correction of, your personal information was improperly denied.

For further information please contact the IPC:

Contact us

If you have questions or need assistance with your FOI request, please contact the Freedom of Information and Privacy (FOIP) coordinator at the institution that holds the information.

Use the Directory of Institutions to search for the appropriate contact details for the office that holds the information you wish to request.

If you know that an Ontario government ministry holds the information, you can find contact information for the ministry and/or agency FOI coordinator at INFO-GO.

If you have questions about the administration of privacy laws

Ontario’s privacy laws include the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), contact the Advisory Services Unit at the Information, Privacy and Archives (IPA):

Please note: The Advisory Services Unit does not receive or process Freedom of Information (FOI) requests or appeals – if you have a question about your FOI request, contact the appropriate FOI office where the request was submitted. Use the Directory of Institutions (a list of all public-sector institutions covered under Freedom of Information laws).