What is Freedom of Information in British Columbia?

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) gives you access to records that are created and compiled by the public bodies of B.C. 

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request is a formal process to ask for copies of personal records about yourself or someone you are responsible for. It is also a way to access general records (which are not personal in nature) that could be released, in whole or in part, to anyone

When you make an FOI request to the provincial government, you can only access records held by those public bodies (ministries or agencies).

Legislation for your request allows for 30-business days, with many requests completed sooner. There are occasions where your request may take longer than 30 days, and may incur processing fees, in addition to the application fee, depending on the amount of work required. There are no application or processing fees applied to personal FOI requests.

Access Information Without Making a Formal Request

An FOI request is a formal process to ask for specific information about your personal data or documents about provincial government activities. Often, the information you need is accessible through other, faster channels.
Here are a few options:
  • Call the ministry holding the information you need to make an informal request. They may be able to tell you where to find the documents you need, or explain how to formally request it.
  • Review the records available via Open Information, a searchable database of data and documents.

What kind of information is available?

There are two types of FOI requests: Personal Information and General Information. 

These are some examples of the types of records you may need from their respective ministries:

Ministry of Children and Family Development:
• Child in Care records
• Child Protection records
• Adoption records
• Foster Parent records
• Daycare Subsidy records

Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General:
• BC Corrections Branch records
• RoadSafetyBC records (e.g. Driver Fitness file)
• Crime Victim Assistance Program records

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction:
• Income Assistance records
• Disability Assistance records
• Health Assistance Branch records

Community Living BC:
• Eligibility records
• Assessment records
• Planning records
• Service Provider (Agency) Records

BC Public Service Agency:
• B.C. government staff employment records
• B.C. government employee payroll records
• B.C. government employee occupational health records

Examples of general records include briefing notes, contracts, etc.

An example of a request for general records is:

A copy of the agreement and/or contract between Party X and the Ministry of Y for management consulting services provided from April 2017 through March 2018.

For additional information, visit the FOI FAQ section.

Contact Information

If you have questions about the Freedom of Information (FOI) process for B.C. government ministries or the Office of the Premier, contact Information Access Operations:

Information Access Operations

PO Box 9569
Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC V8W 9K1

Telephone: 250-387-1321
Toll Free: 833-283-8200

Fax: 250-387-9843
Email: FOI.Requests@gov.bc.ca