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Access to Information and Privacy Acts
CFI became subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act on April 1, 2007.
The Access to Information Act
The Access to Information Act (ATI Act) gives Canadian citizens, other individuals, and corporations present in Canada a limited right of access to the records of most federal government institutions and certain other organizations created by Parliament, such as CFI. The ATI Act is based upon the principles that the public should have a right of access to information about government activities, that exceptions to this right should be limited and specific, and that decisions about access should be subject to independent review.
It is important to remember that the ATI Act is intended to complement, not replace, established channels of communication. CFI has always operated transparently and promoted open informal communication with the research community and the public. We intend to continue to do this. We encourage you to contact us informally before using the ATI Act to request information. Please also bear in mind that the ATI Act does not oblige organizations to create new records to respond to questions – it provides a limited right of access to documents that exist at the time the request is received.
Submitting an Access to Information Act request to CFI
You may submit a request to CFI under the Access to Information Act by completing the standard Treasury Board access to information request form available on line at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tbsf-fsct/350-57_e.asp and submitting it to CFI’s ATIP Coordinator at the address below. Use of this form is not mandatory – you can also apply by simply writing to the ATIP Coordinator. In either case, you must address your request to Coordinator at the address below, cite the ATI Act, provide a detailed description of the records that you wish to access, and enclose the requisite application fee ($5.00 at the time of this writing). Cash, cheques and money orders are acceptable forms of payment. Instruments should be made payable to the Canada Foundation for Innovation. (NOTE: There is no fee required to request access to your own personal information under the Privacy Act. See section on Privacy Act below.) At this time we do not accept Access to Information requests in electronic formats.
Submitting an ATI Act request does not guarantee that you will gain complete access to all of the records you have requested. Some records, such as publications and federal Cabinet papers, are completely excluded from the scope of the Act. The Act also sets out a series of exemptions which may be invoked to withhold information provided that certain legal criteria have been satisfied. In responding to your ATI Act request, for example, CFI would not provide you with information that compromised the security of its systems, personal information about others, or genuinely confidential, commercial or technical information related to the interests of universities or companies. Moreover, if your request required a complex search or involved a large number of records, you might be asked to pay additional fees to help cover the cost of searches, document preparation or copies.
Institution subject to the Act are obliged to respond to your ATI Act request within thirty days, though the Act does provide for extension of this time limit in certain circumstances, usually for consultation with affected parties. If you are not satisfied with CFI’s response to your ATI Act request, you have the right to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner of Canada, an officer of Parliament who functions as an ombudsman with offices, staff and authority to investigate complaints related to the Act.
More information about the Access to Information Act
For more information about the ATI Act, or about submitting a request, please contact CFI’s ATIP Coordinator whose contact information is provided below. You can also find detailed information on the operation of the Act on the web site of the Information Commissioner (http://www.oic-ci.gc.ca/eng/) or in Info Source, a register of federal information holdings available on the Treasury Board web site at http://www.infosource.gc.ca/index-eng.asp.
The Privacy Act
The Privacy Act gives individuals a limited right of access to personal information about themselves held in the files and systems of federal government institutions and certain other organizations established by Parliament, including CFI. In addition, the Act also sets out rules and fair practices for the collection and management of personal information. For example, organizations must inform people at the point where their personal information is collected precisely how it will be used and to whom it will be disclosed. Personal information may be used only for the purposes for which it was originally collected, or for uses consistent with that purpose. The Act also includes a procedure for requesting the correction of inaccuracies in personal information.
The people most likely to have personal information in CFI files and systems are the researchers involved in CFI-funded projects, the experts who provide assessments of those projects or who serve on CFI grant committees, job applicants, and CFI employees.
The Privacy Act sets out specific exemptions to the right of access similar to those in the Access to Information Act. If you request access to your own information, for example, any personal information related to another individual that was contained in the same record would be edited from the record before it was disclosed to you.
Submitting a Privacy Act request to CFI
Any individual present in Canada can make a request under the Privacy Act. Canadian citizens and permanent residents also have the right to make a request under the Privacy Act from outside of Canada. Submitting a formal request under the Privacy Act is very similar to making one under the Access to Information Act except that there are no fees of any kind for Privacy Act requests. You can complete the standard Treasury Board personal information request form available at http://www.tbs-sct.gc.ca/tbsf-fsct/350-58-eng.asp, and submit it to CFI’s ATIP Coordinator at the address below. You do not have to use the form. If you prefer, simply write to CFI’s ATIP Coordinator. At this time we do not accept Privacy Act requests in electronic formats. Be sure to address your request to the ATIP Coordinator, cite the Privacy Act and provide a detailed description of the personal information you are seeking.
As with the ATI Act, we are obliged to respond to your Privacy Act request within thirty days, though the Act does allow for extension of this time limit in rare circumstances. If you not satisfied with CFI’s response to your Privacy Act request, you have the right to bring a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The Commissioner is an officer of Parliament who functions as an ombudsman with authority to investigate complaints related to the Privacy Act.
More information about the Privacy Act
For more information about the Privacy Act, or about submitting a request, please contact CFI’s ATIP Coordinator at the address below. You can also find detailed information on the operation of the Act on the web site of the Privacy Commissioner http://www.priv.gc.ca/index_e.cfm or in Info Source, a register of federal information holdings available online at the Treasury Board web site (http://www.infosource.gc.ca/index-eng.asp) and in print form in federal ATIP offices and most large libraries.
ATIP contact information for CFI
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
c/o Office of the Director (Corporate Services)
Canada Foundation for Innovation
230 Queen Street, Suite 450
Ottawa, ON K1P 5E4
Tel: (613) 947-3208 Fax: (613) 943-0923