Documents and information relevant to investigations

Updated March 2023

When the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) determines that a complaint is admissible and the Information Commissioner intends to investigate it, the OIC Registry notifies the institution that is the subject of the complaint accordingly (as required by section 32 of the Access to Information Act). The Registry also informs the complainant.

The Registry then asks the institution for documents and information that it needs to begin the investigation. These will vary depending on the complainant’s allegations (for example, if they focus on a delay, an exemption or a matter related to something other than an access request).

Note that the investigator may ask for more documents and records over the course of the investigation.

Institutions should retain the following for each access request they process. This will facilitate the investigation, should a request becomes the focus of a complaint. When it does, institutions must keep this material until the investigation and any related court proceedings are complete.

Items relevant to many investigations

  • Original access request
  • Response letter, if any
  • Case management system report on the access request (Activity Screen Printout for APCM or equivalent)
  • Emails to and from program areas about the access request (e.g. taskings and follow-ups)
  • Written communications (e.g. emails, letters) to and from the requester about the access request
  • Correspondence to and from organizations consulted about the access request

Additional items the OIC may ask for

Additional items the OIC may ask for

For investigations related to delays in responding to access requests or about extensions of time

  • Notice sent to the requester of an extension of time
  • Any written rationale for the extension

For investigations related to withholding information under exemptions or about why the Act does not apply to certain information (exclusions)

  • All records responsive to the access request (working copies). In the case of a complaint, the OIC will ask for the redacted information to be indicated.
  • Written rationale(s) for the use of exemption(s) to withhold information or for why the Act does not apply to information (if a written rationale already exists)
  • Names and contact information for key program area officials
  • Names of any third parties the institution notified about the access request under subsection 27(1) or would have notified if it had intended to disclose third-party information (as required by section 33), and their contact information

For investigations involving Cabinet confidences

  • The above items, plus the following:
    • Initial consultation letter sent to the Departmental Legal Services Unit and its response (with information to which the Act does not apply severed)
    • List describing the excluded documents and conclusions about whether the Act applies (see section 13.4.8 of the TBS Access to Information Manual)
    • Confirmation letter signed by the ATIP Coordinator (see section 13.4.7 of the TBS Access to Information Manual)
Date modified:
Submit a complaint