Section 7 - Time limit for responding

Overview

Section 7 places a duty on public bodies to respond to requests without delay and imposes a response time limit of 30 days with specific exceptions.

Sectional Reference

Section 7 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

7 (1) Subject to this section and sections 23 and 24 (1), the head of a public body must respond not later than 30 days after receiving a request described in section 5 (1).

(2) The head of the public body is not required to comply with subsection (1) if

(a) the time limit is extended under section 10, or

(b) the request has been transferred under section 11 to another public body. 

(3) If the head of a public body asks the commissioner under section 43 for authorization to disregard a request, the 30 days referred to in subsection (1) do not include the period from the start of the day the application is made under section 43 to the end of the day a decision is made by the commissioner with respect to that application.

(4) If the head of a public body determines that an applicant is to pay fees for services related to a request, the 30 days referred to in subsection (1) do not include the period from the start of the day the head of the public body gives the applicant a written estimate of the total fees to the end of the day one of the following occurs:

(a) the head of the public body excuses the applicant from paying all of the fees under section 75 (5);

(b) the head of the public body excuses the applicant from paying part of the fees under section 75 (5), and the applicant agrees to pay the remainder and, if required by the head of a public body, pays the deposit required;

(c) the applicant agrees to pay the fees set out in the written estimate and, if required by the head of a public body, pays the deposit required.

(5) If an applicant asks the commissioner under section 52 (1) to review a fee estimate or a refusal to excuse the payment of all or part of the fee required by the head of the public body, the 30 days referred to in subsection (1) do not include the period from the start of the day the applicant asks for the review to the end of the day the commissioner makes a decision.

(6) If a third party asks under section 52 (2) that the commissioner review a decision of the head of a public body, the 30 days referred to in subsection (1) do not include the period from the start of the day the written request for review is delivered to the commissioner to the end of the day the commissioner makes a decision with respect to the review requested.

(7) If a person asks under section 62 (2) for a review of a decision of the commissioner as head of a public body, the 30 days referred to in subsection (1) do not include the period from the start of the day the request for review is delivered to the minister responsible for this Act to the end of the day the adjudicator makes a decision with respect to the review requested.

Summary 

Section 7 excludes certain periods from the calculation of the 30 days within which the public body must respond to a request for information and permits an extension of that 30 day period.

Example

  • section 7 excludes the period from the date when the head requests under section 43 that the commissioner permit the head to disregard the request for information until the commissioner makes a decision;

  • section 7 excludes the period after the head of a public body gives an applicant a written estimate of the fees for services related to the request, until the applicant agrees to pay the fees required in the estimate and pays the deposit, if any is required;

  • the 30 day period does not apply if the time limit is extended under section 10 of the Act or the request is transferred to another body under section 11.

Policy

  1. Public bodies will respond to an access request made under section 5 no later than 30 days from receipt unless that public body finds it necessary to extend the time limit in accordance with the conditions stated in section 7.

  2. Public bodies will transfer a request made under section 5 within 20 days from receipt of the request if they determine that the records are in the custody of or under the control of another public body.  See section 11 (Transferring a request).

  3. If the public body cannot respond to a request within the 30 days because more detail is required, it may extend the time limit for responding under paragraph 10(1)(a).

Procedure

  1. Respond within the time limit in accordance with the requirements of section 8 (Contents of response) after processing the request.

Interpretation

Interpretation Note 1:

Public bodies make every effort to respond as quickly as possible to requests for information held by government.  Section 7 of the Act establishes a maximum time limit of 30 days for responding to a formal request and, in most cases, public bodies meet this deadline. The time limit of 30 days refers to working days and does not include holidays or Saturdays.

In some instances, however, because of the volume of records requested, the need for external consultations or other limited circumstances, a public body may require more than 30 days to satisfy the applicant's needs. The Act specifies the terms and conditions of the limited extensions to the time limit for responding.

Subsection 25(5) of the Interpretation Act clarifies that the calculation of this time limit excludes the day the request is received and includes the day on which the public body responds to the request.  See Calculation of Time.  If the 30th day falls on a statutory holiday or a day on which the office is not open during regular business hours, the public body responds on the next working day.

Example

  • A request is received on Wednesday November 2, 2005. November 3 is day 1 in the calculation of 30 days; therefore, the request is calculated as due on Thursday, December 15, 2005.  November 11 is a statutory holiday on which the office is not open, and is, therefore, not included in the 30 days response time.

Section 7 allows public bodies to stop working on FOI requests when waiting for a ruling from the Information and Privacy Commissioner under section 43 (on whether it can ignore a high volume requester), 52(1) (review of fee estimate or fee waiver decision), or 52(2) (third party request for review). It also allows the same consideration to the Commissioner’s office when it must respond as a public body.

Section 7 ties the time allowances under section 23 – third party notification - into the thirty-day timeline set in this section.

Sectional Index of Commissioner's Orders

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Last updated: July 12, 2007