Federally, applicants have the right to make a complaint to either the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (“OPC”) or the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (“OIC”) depending on whether you submitted your initial request through the Privacy Act or the Access to Information Act (“ATIA”). The Privacy Act is for personal information and privacy issues, while the ATIA is for general information requests.
The 60-day period begins on the day the applicant receives a response from the Federal public body as per section 7 of the ATIA.
It is important for you to keep all your communications between every relevant party.
The first step in filing a complaint to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (“OIC”) is to determine that the complaint is covered under section 30 of the Access to Information Act (“ATIA”), and that the initial ATIA request was valid. For more information about the validity of an initial request, please refer to our [FEDERAL ATIA HELP PAGE].
Complaints covered under Section 30 of the Access to Information Act include:
You should generally attempt to resolve your complaint directly with the Federal public body rather than through the OIC in order to save time.
If you are still unsatisfied with the response or lack of response from the Federal public body, then you are entitled to file a free formal complaint to the OIC.
We encourage you to submit your complaint online through the purple text box “Submit a complaint”, in which you can then follow the appropriate prompts. Alternatively, download and fill the complaint form under “Submit a complaint”, then email, mail, or fax it to:
Registration for the formal complaint requires the following information:
You will then select on whose behalf the complaint is for and select the name of the institution that is the subject of the complaint. The relevant issues that can be selected include the following:
Each issue will require consistent information across the issues, while some issues will require additional information.
The OIC notes that complaints will be investigated in a timely manner. Depending on the case, some complaints may take more resources than others. However, the OIC notes that investigators typically aim to complete their administrative investigations within 90 days and refusal complaint investigations within nine months.
The OIC lists the following factors that may impact the investigation timeline:
The OIC will notify you once the investigation is completed and will assign your investigation one of the following statuses:
For more information, please visit the OIC’s “What are the possible outcomes for my complaint?”.
These pages were last updated and reviewed in August of 2022.
The information on these pages only contains general information and guidance; none of the information constitutes legal advice. If you have a specific issue that you believe is a legal problem, the best practice is to consult a lawyer.
The information is non-partisan, dynamic and ever changing. It is the result of FIPA’s research and public education programs.
If you note something that needs to be added, corrected, or removed, please contact us by email: fipa AT fipa.bc.ca.