Frequently Asked Questions About Open Information



What is the difference between Open Information and DataBC?

Both sites – Open Information and DataBC – provide access to public information and data for you to use to collaborate with government to improve policy and service delivery.

Open Information provides access to publicly available government documents and other regularly released information about the use of public funds.

DataBC goes beyond public information. Use it to access provincial data and tools to conduct your own research, analyze statistics or develop applications.

Citizens of B.C. can see how senior officials are spending public money to travel for government business. For example, travel expense details for Ministers and Deputy Ministers were one of the most requested records before we began proactively releasing this information.

The government publicly shares this information online so you can review these costs without making a formal request. 


Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the government releases ministry records on a request-by-request basis. Some examples of public information commonly requested for release include: policy decisions on health care, decisions about road allowances, or spending related to environmental issues.

You can make a personal FOI request for information about yourself or someone you have proof of authority to act upon their behalf, or a signed consent for disclosure to you. You can also make a general FOI request to gain access to non-personal information and records.

Information will be released to the applicant who requested it and then published online no sooner than 10 business days after release.

Technology is making it possible for everyone to have more direct interactions with government. Releasing information and data to the public makes it easier to access information about your government that specifically interests you. 

*Note - not ALL requests are posted - there are limited exceptions such as responses containing personal information.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) and the Legislative Assembly's Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act have recommended that government routinely disclose more public information using online technology.

Not all requests require payment. Releases of specific information may be subject to fees based on the amount of work required to process each request. Individuals requesting their own personal information are never charged a fee. Find more information about the fee structure here.

The general compensation and allowances for MLAs, including MLAs who are ministers, are published on the Legislative Assembly website, reflecting their activities and travel in their MLA roles. The government proactively publishes travel expenses for ministers on government business.

Information that has been released by request will be posted regularly – even daily, in some cases

Electronic documents are submitted in different formats. Scanned documents are in an image format which makes it difficult to search their contents. The Open Information document search may help you locate documents by keyword, ministry name and file name.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act gives you the right to request public information and requires government to respond to those requests. Some requested information may be exempt from disclosure if FOIPPA permits government to withhold it. For example, information presented in a cabinet meeting or information identifying other persons would be withheld. If you are unsatisfied with government’s response to a request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the response. Information published on this website is not subject to review. For more information, contact Information Access Operations.

FOIPPA prohibits the public release of some types of information, such as personal information about citizens, discussions confidential to cabinet or information that could harm the business interests of a third party. This means that all details that meet these exceptions must be removed from the information releases prior to being posted online.

Releasing any of this information would be in contravention of  FOIPPA.

Citizens will always have the right to submit freedom of information requests because FOIPPA gives the public a right of access to public documents.

The proactive release of information requests is one way we are now sharing and making more information available. This is a first step and government will continue to contribute to the Open Data and Information tools in order to improve ongoing access to government records and information.