Freedom of Information FAQs

Q: Is FOIPOP federal or provincial?

Both - there is federal and provincial legislation for public and private sectors. The public sector includes governmental ministries, universities and hospitals for example.

Q: What should you do if a student requests access to his/her student file?

Refer the student to the Registrar's Office; they have a process in place.

Q: Can I request someone else's personal information?

Not as a rule. Third party personal information cannot be disclosed to others except under very specific reasons, outlined in Sec. 33.1 and 33.2 of FIPPA.

Q: If I record my opinions of individuals is that my personal information or theirs?


Q: Are salaries and expenses our own personal information, protected from disclosure?

No, FIPPA sets out that the title, function and remuneration of public employees is not personal information nor is business contact information for any employee.

Q: If you are part of an interview panel, are the notes you write about applicants their personal information?

Yes, applicants may request this information.

Q: Does FIPPA require faculty to disclose their research projects?

No, FIPPA does not apply to faculty research, unless the project requires examination of student records or other personal information.

Q; How does FIPPA affect examination of personal information for research or statistical purposes?

Section 35 of FIPPA has provisions for research purposes and sets boundaries on disclosure in order to protect the privacy of the individual(s) concerned. Please contact the Information and Privacy Coordinator for information or see Section 35 and/or the complete Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Q: Does FIPPA cover minutes of bargaining agents and/or union meetings?

No. FIPPA only covers public bodies - not associations or societies. If, however, the minutes are distributed to the library or members of administration, the documents become part of the institution's public record holdings and, as such, may be subject to FIPPA disclosure requirements.

Q: Can't we just delete our emails?

Section 31 of the FIPPA says "If an individual's personal information: (a) is in the custody or under the control of a public body, and (b) is used by or on behalf of the public body to make a decision that directly affects the individual, a public body must ensure that the personal information is retained for at least one year after being used so that the affected individual has a reasonable opportunity to obtain access to that personal information."

Deletion of email that does NOT include personal information or that is transitory in nature is permissible.  However, it would be an offense under FIPPA to delete emails in order to avoid giving access to the information once an access request has been made.  For destruction of all other records you must consult your supervisor and/or Kwantlen's Directory of Records and Retention Schedule.  See "Records Management - resources and links" tab.

Q: Can we c.c. the lawyer when having email discussions and take advantage of lawyer/client privilege?

Only if: (a) you are seeking an opinion from the lawyer or providing information for that end or (b) you are in or on the way to litigation, i.e. clearly launched or imminent. In either of those instances, the emails would be considered "privileged" as part of the lawyer-client communication. The mere fact a lawyer's name is on a document (email) doesn't constitute lawyer/client privilege.

Q: Do I have to release information contained in confidential files?

All confidential files should be considered releasable unless one of the exceptions under FIPPA applies. Contact the Information and Privacy Coordinator if you have any questions about what kinds of documents come under an exception of FIPPA.

Q: Do interviewees have access to the notes I took during hiring interviews?

Under FIPPA, individuals have access to any information recorded about them, including notes taken during interviews. As a general rule, it is wise to be objective and professional when recording impressions of someone and not write down irrelevant comments, unless you are prepared to have it read by the interviewee at some future date.

Q: Do students have access to the personal evaluation forms completed by employers who accepted students in practicum or co-operative education placements?

Yes. Students have a right to see all personal information the institution has collected about them.

Q: Is there a guideline available to explain what my duties are if an FOI access request is made to my department?

Yes, see the following Handling FOI Requests Guideline- Sept. 2013.pdf