Section 71 - Head of Public Body Must Establish Categories of Records Available Without Request

Overview

This section requires the head of a public body to establish categories of records appropriate for routine release to the public. 

Section Reference

Section 71 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

71 (1) Subject to subsection (1.1), the head of a public body must establish categories of records that are in the custody or under the control of the public body and are available to the public without a request for access under this Act. 

(1.1) The head of a public body must not establish a category of records that contain personal information unless the information 

       (a) may be disclosed under section 33, or 

       (b) would not constitute, if disclosed, an unreasonable invasion of the personal privacy of the individual the information is about. 

(1.2) Section 22 (2) to (4) applies to the determination of unreasonable invasion of personal privacy under subsection (1.1) (b) of this section. 

(1.3) The head of a public body may sever from a record made available under this section any information the head of the public body would be entitled under Part 2 of this Act to refuse to disclose to an applicant. 

(1.4) If information is severed from a record, the record must include a statement of 

       (a) the fact that information has been severed from the record, 

       (b) the nature of the information severed from the record, and 

       (c) the reason for severing the information from the record. 

(2) The head of a public body may require a person who asks for a copy of an available record to pay a fee to the public body. 

(3) Subsection (1) does not limit the discretion of the government of British Columbia or a public body to disclose records that do not contain personal information. 

Summary

This section sets out requirements for public bodies to establish categories of records that can be released without a formal access request. This is intended to encourage public bodies to think about categories of records that may be of value to the public and which may be suitable for routine release. Ideally, categories of records designated by the head under section 71 should be the type that do not require the same level of line-by-line review and scrutiny that an access request would typically entail. 

The requirements for public bodies contained in section 71 of FOIPPA do not replace any other ways that the public might obtain information in the custody or control of a public body, including the access provisions set out in Part 2 of FOIPPA. 

Disclosure of records under section 71 of FOIPPA may be proactive (disclosed even in the absence of a request) or reactive (in response to an inquiry or informal request). 

Policy

  1. When establishing categories of records that a public body will make available pursuant to section 71, public bodies must also establish reasonable timelines within which each category of records must be produced in response to an informal request. These timelines should be much shorter than the timelines for access requests; generally a week or less. Most records established as routinely releasable should be available "on demand". 

  1. Public bodies that intend to charge fees for records that are routinely released pursuant to section 71 must ensure that those fees are transparently set out in a policy or fee schedule. 

  1. When providing copies of records under this section, public bodies must inform the person that if they are not satisfied with their response, they may make a formal access request under Part 2 of FOIPPA for the records

Procedure

  1. Provincial government ministries will identify categories of records which can be routinely released without the necessity of a formal request under the Act.

Interpretation

Does not limit the discretion

A public body may release or withhold any record, not formally requested under the Act, that does not contain personal information whether or not it has been established as routinely releasable.

Sectional Index of Commissioner's Orders

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner maintains a Sectional Index of Commissioner’s orders organized by the Act’s section numbers. 

 

The information in this manual is not intended to be and should not take the place of legal advice.  

Last updated: May 2022