FOIP FAQ

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

What are the principles or intent of the Freedom of Information and protection of Privacy Act?

There are five basic principles of this legislation aimed to provide an individual with an appropriate balance between access to government information and protection of the individual's personal information.

These principles are:

  • You, the 'public', have a right of access to records held by Sturgeon County,
  • The County must protect your personal privacy and follow rules and guidelines in collecting, using and disclosing, to others, your personal information,
  • It is your right to see your personal information held by The County about yourself;
  • You have the right to request corrections to your personal information that is held by The County. However, opinion's cannot be changed or removed, and
  • You have the right to an independent review of decisions made by Sturgeon County. This independent review is conducted by the Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner's office.

Do I have to make a Request for Information or a formal FOIP request to obtain information from Sturgeon County?

No. Sturgeon County routinely releases information without a request for information or a formal FOIP request provided the information is neither subject to exemption from disclosure under the FOIP Act nor contains personal information about other individuals.

What is the difference between a Request for Information and a Formal FOIP Request?

Request for Information has no initial fee for the request. Official FOIP Request has an initial $25.00 fee and an option of an independent official review from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

What is the Alberta Information & Privacy Commissioner’s role?

Alberta's Information and Privacy Commissioner, who is appointed by the Provincial Legislature, oversees all aspects of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for all public bodies affected by The Act including Sturgeon County. The Office of the Commissioner (OIPC) is the independent body that reviews the application of the legislation including:

  • Conducting reviews of decisions made by Sturgeon County under the FOIP Act, at the request of an applicant or affected third party,
  • Conducting investigations into complaints regarding privacy breaches, to ensure compliance with provisions of the FOIP Act and compliance with rules relating to the destruction of records,
  • Making Order as a result of investigations, reviews or inquiries, and
  • Informing the public about the Act.

What is meant by the duty to assist?

Employees of Sturgeon County, including The Records Management & FOIP Coordinators, must make every "reasonable" effort to help FOIP applicants and to respond to each applicant openly, accurately and completely with the restrictions and exemptions of the FOIP Act.

What is personal information?

Personal information is recorded information on an identifiable individual including:

  • the individual's name, home or business address or home or business telephone number,
  • individual's race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religious or political beliefs or associations,
  • the individual's age, sex, marital status or family status,
  • an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual,
  • the individual's fingerprints, blood type or inheritable characteristics,
  • information about the individual's health and health care history, including information about a physical or mental disability,
  • information about the individual's educational, financial, employment or criminal history, including criminal records where a pardon has been given,
  • anyone else's opinions about the individual, and
  • the individual's personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else.

If I make an Information request, will I get all of the information I requested?

You will receive all information that is releasable under the FOIP Act. Some information may not be released if an exception to release exists in the Act. When an exemption to disclosure exists, a FOIP applicant will be informed under which section of the Act the information is exempt. In the Act, there are two types of exemptions; mandatory which, if applicable, The County can not release information related to these exemptions without violating the Act and discretionary exemptions to which The County may apply its discretion to the information in deciding whether or not to release.

Do I have to tell Sturgeon County why I want the information?

No. However, under certain circumstances it may be helpful to provide the reason, as it would enable Sturgeon County to process your request more efficiently.

What are the costs involved?

A personal request will have fee assessed for photocopies if the cost of the copies requested exceeds $10.00. The charge for copies is $0.25 per page, therefore 41 or more pages will result in fees and you will be required to pay for all copies received. For other requests, applicants will be provided with an estimate of fee prior to processing, which will be assessed for search time, preparation and review time based on $6.75/¼ hour. Photocopies will remain the same at $0.25 per page. At this time an applicant can decide to continue or narrow the request. Once approved by applicant, the request for information will be processed. The actual fee is due at the time of receipt of the information.

Why can I purchase a map with names on it, but the municipality will not disclose the name or address of a landowner when I request it?

Often rural maps contain the first initial and last name of land owners, legal land descriptions, and the location of houses. These maps are prepared for use by municipal staff, such as emergency services, utilities, and others who need to locate owners. Maps are often made available to the public as well. Many municipalities are continuing to produce these maps since they believe the use of the owners’ names on the maps is not an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy under section 17 of the FOIP Act. The disclosure would be permitted under section 40(1)(b) of the FOIP Act once the municipality makes the decision. Unless there is an investigation of a privacy complaint by the Commissioner and the resulting report recommends removing the names, municipalities may decide to continue to produce the maps.

To obtain a 'Request for Information' form from Sturgeon County, please visit the forms page.

References: Service Alberta; Frequently Asked Questions for Municipalities (2011) http://www.servicealberta.ca/foip/documents/faq-municipalities.pdf

"Province of Alberta, Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act, Alberta Queen's Printer, Edmonton, AB, 2012, (pp.8-9)"