FOI Requests – a brief guide for SFUFA members

Prepared for SFUFA by Alexandra Wieland

 

The following information is provided as general guidance to SFUFA members who receive Freedom of Information (FOI) requests in their course of their work. These are general guidelines only; members are receive FOI requests are encouraged to seek more specific advice from the University’s Information and Privacy Archivist (contact info below).

Freedom of Information requests addressed to Simon Fraser University are typically sent to the Archives and Records Management Department, which is the University department responsible for processing FOI requests.

If you receive an FOI request directly from the individual making the request, contact the Archives and Records Management Department (archives@sfu.ca) as soon as possible.

If you receive notice of an FOI request for your records from the Archives and Records Management Department, here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. You have a legal obligation as an employee of the University to provide University records to the Information and Privacy Archivist.
    • University records are records that you either created or received when fulfilling administrative roles at the University (e.g. University committee records, correspondence with University administrators, financial/budget records, human resources records, housekeeping emails/records relating to teaching or research activity)
  2. Some records created by faculty are outside the scope of FIPPA.
    • Teaching materials (e.g. lecture notes or slides, descriptions of assignments, texts of exams) and research information (e.g. grant applications detailing your research, records related to research ethics approvals, or any records that contain research information). Because these records are outside the scope of FIPPA, they do not have to be reviewed by the Information and Privacy Archivist. If in doubt, you can describe the records to the Information and Privacy Archivist, who can advise on whether the record is in-scope or out-of-scope.
  3. Personal records of faculty are also outside the scope of FIPPA.
    • Personal records include records that do not relate to administrative work at the University (e.g. correspondence with your union, personal correspondence with family or friends). Again, the Information and Privacy Archivist can advise on whether the record is in-scope or out-of-scope.
  4. Students can request access to their own personal information.
    • Student assignments and emails or other records that are either addressed to or about a student are in-scope and can be requested by the student.

The Information and Privacy Archivist will collect all in-scope records responsive to the request, will review the records, and will apply redactions as either required or permitted by FIPPA. The Information and Privacy Archivist holds the records you provide in strict confidence.

The Information and Privacy Archivist may contact you with questions about the context of the records. The information you provide helps make the determination if records may/must be released or may/must be withheld. Just because records have been provided to the Information and Privacy Archivist does not necessarily mean that the records will be released to the applicant.

SFU’s current Information and Privacy Archivist is  Robert McLelland; he can be reached at Robert_mclelland@sfu.ca or by telephone at 778 782 2121