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City of Hamilton

Freedom of Information

Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (MFIPPA) and The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)

All municipalities are subject to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and all municipalities that have Health Information Custodians or act as agents on behalf of Health Information Custodians are subject to the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA).

What are the purposes of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act (MFIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)?

The purposes of the Municipal Freedom of Information Act and Protection of Privacy (MFIPPA) are:

(a) to provide a right of access to information under the control of institutions in accordance with the principles that,

  • information should be available to the public;

  • necessary exemptions from the right of access should be limited and specific; and,

  • decisions on the disclosure of information should be reviewed independently of the institution controlling the information; and,

(b) to protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by institutions and to provide individuals with a right of access to that information.

The purposes of the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) are:

(a) To establish rules for the collection and disclosure of Personal Health Information

(b) To protect the privacy of personal health information

(c) To provide individuals with the right to access and to correct or amend his or her personal health information subject to limited and specific exemptions.

Copies of the legislation are available on-line at the following websites:

To which government organizations do MFIPPA and PHIPA apply?

The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act came into effect January 1, 1991 and applies to municipal corporations, including school boards, public utilities commissions, transit and police commissions, fire departments, conservation authorities, and other local boards.

The Personal Health Information Protection Act came into force on November 1, 2004 and applies to municipal services that involve the collection of personal health information. City departments and related organizations that may collect personal health information in the completion of their duties include: ambulance services, public health services, long-term care facilities, homes for the aged, and community-based programs for immunization, dental care, chronic disease prevention, therapeutic day care, early childhood development and parenting, addictions and mental health services. Health Information Custodians are persons who have custody or control of personal health information as a result of, or in connection with the delivery of health care services. The Act also includes agents acting on behalf of Health Information Custodians.

The Personal Health Information Protection Act specifically applies to personal health information and supercedes the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. MFIPPA applies to most other records held by the city, including health records maintained in other areas that are not health information custodians, such as Human Resources.

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What kind of information can be requested?

MFIPPA gives everyone a right of access to most recorded information held by government organizations.

A record is defined as any record of information however recorded, whether in printed form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise, and includes correspondence, a memorandum, a book, a plan, a map, a drawing, a diagram, a pictorial or graphic work, a photograph, a film, a microfilm, a sound recording, a videotape, a machine readable record, any other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, and any copy thereof as well as any record that is capable of being produced from a machine readable record under the control of an institution by means of computer hardware and software or any other information storage equipment and technical expertise normally used by the institution.

MFIPPA requires that an institution make available for public viewing a directory of records housed by the institution and a listing of personal information banks. A personal information bank is any grouping of records which contain personal information and can be searched by an individual's name or other identifying number or symbol, such as a Driver's License or Social Insurance Number.

The directory of records and personal information banks provides the public with a general idea of the types and categories of records created, used and housed by the City, as well as providing information regarding the City's use, collection and retention of personal information. Please note that records referred to in these listings are not necessarily public and that some or all of a record type or personal information bank may be properly exempt from release under the Act.

Please note that these listings are still under development. These listings were last updated in 2008.

Link to: Directory of Records
Link to: Personal Information Banks

PHIPA defines personal health information as any form of identifying information about an individual's physical or mental health. Personal health information (PHI) may include: health card numbers, family health histories, the identity of substitute decision makers, health treatment records, long-term care service plans, payment records or documentation on eligibility for health care and tissue donations. PHI may be oral or recorded. As a general rule, PHI must be collected directly from the individual and can only be collected, used and disclosed with consent except under limited and specific circumstances.

PHIPA sets out the purposes for which Health Information Custodians (HICs) may collect, use, modify, disclose, retain and dispose of personal health information. HICs must set out the administrative, technical and physical safeguards and practices that are in place to protect personal health information in general. HICs cannot collect, use or disclose more personal health information than is necessary to meet the particular purpose for which it was intended.

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Do I need to submit a formal request to get personal information from the City?

Formal applications are not always necessary to obtain personal information held by the City under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or the Personal Health Information Protection Act. Prior to submitting a formal request for information under on of these Acts, individuals wishing to access municipal records should begin by contacting (905) 546-CITY. Callers will be transferred to the appropriate department responsible for the records to which they seek access. Departmental staff will then determine if the records can be released by them or whether a formal Access Request is required.

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How do I make an Access Request?

If a formal request is required, applicants must:

  • complete an Access/Correction Request Application

  • submit the completed Access/Correction Request Application and the mandatory $5.00 application fee by mail or in person to:

Manager, Records and Freedom of Information
City Clerk's Division
City Hall
71 Main Street West, 1st Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5

Payment can be made in the form of cash, cheque (made payable to the City of Hamilton), VISA, Mastercard, Debit Card, certified cheque or money order. Please do not send cash in the mail.

The $5.00 application fee must accompany your request.

If you are requesting access to, or a correction of your own personal information, please include with your completed application form, a photocopy of a piece of identification (e.g. driver’s license) bearing your signature. This will allow City Staff to verify your identity so that your personal information is not disclosed to someone other than yourself.

If you are acting as an agent on someone else's behalf, please include with the completed application, a signed Consent to Release Form from that individual authorizing you to act on his/her behalf, as well as a photocopy of a piece of his/her identification (e.g. driver's license) bearing his/her signature for verification purposes.

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What happens after I submit my Access Request?

Access requests received under MFIPPA or PHIPA are processed as follows:

Completed Application to access municipal records is received by the City Clerk's Division

Contacts in department/division notified of request and asked to provide responsive records in prescribed time

Records reviewed to determine if exemptions apply under the Act

Order issued by the Information and Privacy Commissioner's (IPC) Office on similar access requests are reviewed

Consultations with Staff, Legal Services and Corporate Counsel and Committee, if required

Records severed to remove non-responsive or exempt information

Interim decision letters may be issued re: fee estimates, third party notices, time extensions, etc.

In most cases, decision letters issued within 30 days after date of application

Applicant can appeal the decision to the IPC

Mediation/Arbitration

IPC issues Order

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Who do I contact for more information?

Access requests and general inquiries about the City of Hamilton's procedures regarding MFIPPA and PHIPA should be directed to:

Manager, Records and Freedom of Information
City Clerk's Division
City Hall
71 Main Street West, 1st Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5

(905) 546-2424 ext 2743
(905) 546-2095 (fax)
clerk@hamilton.ca (email)

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If I'm not satisfied with the City's response to my Access Request, what can I do?

If you are not satisfied with the access decision made by the City in response to your request, you may request that the decision be reviewed within 30 days of receiving the decision by writing to:

IPC Registrar
Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, ON  M4W 1A8

Telephone: 1-800-387-0073

Related links:

Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC) website www.ipc.on.ca

Click here to obtain an appeal form  (PDF Format)


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Are there any additional costs associated with the processing of my Access Request?

Fees for General Information Requests received under MFIPPA

Requests for information about another individual, a government program or activity are considered general information requests. the following fees apply to requests for general information:

Application Fee: $5.00 must accompany application

Time spent manually searching for records: $7.50 per ¼ hour

Records Preparation: $7.50 per ¼ hour required to prepare records for disclosure

Photocopying and Computer Printouts: $0.20 per page (requester's copy only)

Floppy/Hard Disk: $10.00 for each disk

Computer Programming: $15.00 per ¼ hour if necessary to develop a computer program to retrieve information

The costs, including computer costs, that the City incurs in locating, retrieving, processing and copying the record if those costs are specific in an invoice that the City has received

Appeal Fee: $25.00 to be paid to the IPC if an appeal is filed


Fees for Personal Information Requests received under MFIPPA and for requests received under PHIPA.

A request for information about oneself is considered a personal information request. The following fees apply to requests for personal information:

Application Fee: $5.00 must accompany application

Photocopying and Computer Printouts: $0.20 per page

Floppy/Hard Disks: $10.00 for each disk

Computer Programming: $15.00 per ¼ hour if necessary to develop a computer program to retrieve information

The costs, including computer costs, that the City incurs in locating, retrieving, processing and copying the record if those costs are specific in an invoice that the City has received

Appeal Fee: $10.00 to be paid to the IPC if an appeal is filed

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Who is the head of the Municipal Corporation and who do I contact for more information?

Pursuant to Section 3(3) of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, City Council is designated as the head of the Municipal Corporation for the purposes of the Act.

Under Section 49(1), the powers and duties under the said Act have been delegated to the City Clerk, the Manager of Records & Freedom of Information and the Access and Privacy Officer for the City of Hamilton, subject to the condition that the City Clerk shall refer any request for access to a record to the Corporate Administration Committee for consideration and decision where he/she is of the opinion that a decision to grant or to refuse the request could have significant consequences on the interests of the Municipal Corporation.

Under the Personal Health Information Protection Act you may contact your Health Information Custodian directly for your personal health information. Should your Health Information Custodian require that a more formal access request process be followed, you will be referred to the Manager of Records & Freedom of Information or the Access and Privacy Officer for the City of Hamilton.

Access requests and general inquiries respecting both the freedom of information and personal health information process for the City of Hamilton should be directed to:

Manager, Records and Freedom of Information
City Clerk's Division
City Hall
71 Main Street West, 1st Floor
Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5

(905) 546-2424 ext. 2743
(905) 546-2095 (fax)
clerk@hamilton.ca (e-mail)

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