Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Access to Information and Privacy

The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act came into effect on July 1, 1983.  The Acts provide Canadian citizens, permanent residents or any person (or entity) present in Canada with the legal right to obtain information, in any form, that is under the control of a government institution.

The Access to Information Act gives individuals a right to access records under the control of a federal government institution. The main priciples of this Act are:  government information should be available to the public; exemptions to this right should be limited and specific; and decisions on disclosure of information should be reviewed independently of government.

The Privacy Act protects the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about them held by a government institution and provides individuals with a right to access and to request correction to this information. In accordance with section 7 of the Privacy Act, personal information can only be used in accordance with the purpose for which the information was collected or for a use consistent with that purpose. Information protected by the Privacy Act can only be disclosed with the consent of the person to whom it relates or in accordance with the exception terms of subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act.

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) is fully committed to both the spirit and intent of the Access to Information Act to ensure openness and transparency within the Department, and the spirit and intent of the Privacy Act, which is based on the principles of open government and to ensure the privacy of individuals with respect to their personal information held by the Department is protected.

At WD, the powers, duties and functions of the Minister have been delegated to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator and Deputy ATIP Coordinator.

All written requests made under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act should be as specific as possible to enable an effective search and to reduce the need to seek clarification from the requester. Further explanation can be found by visiting the How to make a request sections.

WD will treat all requests in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, make every reasonable effort to assist the applicant, respond accurately, completely and in a timely manner, and only officials with a need to know will be involved in processing the request. Confidentiality will be maintained throughout the entire process.

Timeframe for responding to Access or Privacy Requests

The legislated timeframe for responding to Access to Information or Privacy requests is 30 calendar days.  WD is committed to acknowledging the receipt of all requests and providing the relevant records, as well as advising applicants if an extension(s) for consultations are required, within this 30 day time period. 

The Access to Information Act permits an institution to extend the time limit to respond to a request beyond the 30 calendar days if:

  • the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records, and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution;
  • external consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original time limit; or
  • notice of the request is given to a third party to advise of the institution’s intention to disclose information pertaining to them pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Act.

The Privacy Act permits an institution to extend the time limit to respond to a request for a maximum of 30 calendar days beyond the initial 30 days if:

  • the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution; or
  • consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be completed within the original time restriction.

Who can make a request under the Access to Information Act?

Any individual or corporation present in Canada can make a request under the Access to Information Act. Canadian citizens and permanent residents also have the right to make a request under the Access to Information Act from outside Canada, however proof that the requestor is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must be provided. An applicant who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident must be physically in Canada both at the time that the request is filed and at the time access is given.

Requests made pursuant to the Access to Information Act must include a $5.00 application fee. It should be noted that section 11 of the Act permits the WD to charge additional fees for search and preparation time in accordance with the Access to Information Regulations, as necessary.

Who can make a request under the Privacy Act?

Any individual present in Canada can make a request under the Privacy Act for information about themselves. Canadian citizens and permanent residents also have the right to make a request under the Privacy Act from outside Canada, however proof that the requestor is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident must be provided. An individual who is not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident must be physically in Canada both at the time that the request is filed and at the time access is given.

Where the rights of an applicant under the Act are exercised by a representative, the applicant must provide verifiable, written authorization for the representative to act on their behalf.

There are no fees for requesting information under the Privacy Act.