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Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA)?
  2. What is a “record”?
  3. Who may make requests for information?
  4. What records can I request?
  5. How do I make a request under ATIPPA?
  6. How do I ensure that I should be sending my request to the Department of Health and Community Services?
  7. How do I access my own personal health information?
  8. Are there any fees?
  9. How long does a typical request take?
  10. What if I am not satisfied with the response I receive from the Department?

1. What is the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA)?

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) is a law governing provincial public sector organizations such as government departments, agencies, boards, commissions, municipalities, schools and school boards, and public post-secondary institutions. The purpose of ATIPPA is twofold; it promotes accountability and transparency in the public sector by allowing access to records and information maintained or controlled by a public body, and it prevents the unauthorized collection, use or disclosure of personal information by public bodies. The Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Health and Community Services is defined as a public body under ATIPPA and is therefore subject to the Act and its regulations.

ATIPPA is not meant to replace existing methods of obtaining information. Before making a request under ATIPPA, you may try informally to obtain the information or records that you are seeking. General inquiries for the Department of Health and Community Services may be made via email, telephone (709-729-4984), or letter mail.You may also contact certain employees or specific divisions of the Department through this organizational chart PDF (247 KB). Proceeding through informal channels will often prove easier and quicker than making a request under ATIPPA.

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2. What is a “record”?

ATIPPA defines a record as any information that is written, photographed, recorded, or stored in any manner. This definition includes electronic data, handwritten notes and electronic correspondence or messages (subsection 2(y) and 2(g), ATIPPA) .

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3. Who may make requests for information?

ATIPPA allows any person to request information and/or records that are in the custody or under the control of a public body (section 8, ATIPPA) .

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4. What records can I request?

Under ATIPPA you may request any records and/or information that are in the custody or under the control of a public body, including your own personal information. However, there are some exceptions to access outlined in Part II, Division 2 of ATIPPA. These exceptions are designed to protect information such as cabinet confidences, policy advice or recommendations developed for a public body or Minister, law enforcement activities, personal information and legal advice.

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5. How do I make a request under ATIPPA?

An ATIPP request must be made in writing and can be done by completing an Online Access Request .

You may also submit an ATIPP request by completing and Access to Information Request Form PDF (189 KB) and submitting it to Mrs. Vanessa Macey, ATIPP Coordinator for the Department of Health and Community Services. Her contact information is as follows:

ATIPP Coordinator: Mrs. Vanessa Macey
Department of Health and Community Services, Confederation Building, 1st Floor West Block
P.O. Box 8700, St. John's, NL
A1B 4J6
Telephone: 709-729-7010

Please note: If you are having trouble filling out/saving/printing the Access Request Form, please refer to the ATIPPA website for further instructions: http://www.atipp.gov.nl.ca/info/accessrequestform.html .

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6. How do I ensure that I should be sending my request to the Department of Health and Community Services?

ATIPP requests should be sent to the public body most likely to have the information you are seeking. If you are unsure, contact the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Office or Vanessa Macey, ATIPP Coordinator for the Department.

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7. How do I access my own personal health information?

Personal health records are managed by the Regional Health Authorities. If your request includes personal health information, please refer to the attached links for Regional Health Authority contact information.

Eastern Health: http://www.easternhealth.ca/AboutEH.aspx?d=1&id=55&p=73

Central Health: http://www.centralhealth.nl.ca/privacy-access-to-information/

Western Health: http://westernhealth.nl.ca/index.php/clients-patients-and-visitors/your-privacy/access-to-information-and-protection-of-privacy-act-atippa

Labrador Grenfell Health: http://www.lghealth.ca/index.php?pageid=163

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8. Are there any fees?

There may be a fee associated with processing the request. The fee amount depends upon the scope of the request, the cost associated with reproducing the responsive documents, and the amount of time it takes to prepare the request. Specific information about fees are contained in the Cost Schedule PDF (52 KB). If the fee associated with a request is expected to exceed $50.00, the Deputy Minister is required to send you a fees estimate before proceeding. Making your request as clear as possible and limiting it to the records that you are seeking will help minimize fees.

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9. How long does a typical request take?

As per section 16 of ATIPPA, the Department of Health and Community Services has 20 business days from the date it receives the request to provide a response. The Commissioner may extend the 20 day time limit if the request is unclear and it cannot be determined what records are being requested, or if retrieving and/or searching for responsive documents would unreasonably interfere with the Department’s day-to-day operations. The 20 day time period may also be extended if notice must be given to a third party under section 19 of the Act.

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10. What if I’m not satisfied with the response I receive from the Department?

Under Part IV of ATIPPA, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Newfoundland and Labrador is appointed the independent oversight body for complaints made under the Act.

If you are not satisfied, you may file a complaint with the commissioner respecting a decision, act or failure to act of the Department pursuant to Part II, Division 3 of ATIPPA. Alternatively, you may also appeal the decision, act or failure to act of the Department directly to the Trial Division, pursuant to Part II, Division 4 of ATIPPA.

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Helpful Links

ATIPPA Legislation

ATIPPA Policy and Procedures Manual PDF (1.08 MB)

Guide to Government ATIPP Coordinators

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