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Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)

On June 10, 2006, Ontario universities became subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). As its name implies, the legislation has two distinct purposes and each of these carries with it a different set of requirements.

Under Freedom of Information, the public has the right of access to all of the recorded information which is in McMaster’s custody and control (with some specific limitations). In order to facilitate this right of access, the University is required to prepare descriptions of the institution’s records and personal information banks (PIBs). These directories, which must be published annually, are intended for use by the public to determine the information generally maintained by each institution.

The Protection of Privacy provisions of the Act regulate the collection, use, disclosure, security and retention of personal information in the University’s custody and control. Many of the administrative requirements of this section of the legislation have been addressed previously with the introduction in 1995 of McMaster’s Guidelines on Access to Information and Protection of Privacy, and the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (2000), which as of January 2004 imposed similar requirements on those sectors of the University involved in commercial activity. The University has developed a Notice of Collection statement, outlining the kind of personal information that is collected and the use that is made of such information.

Christi Garneau, University Secretary, is the appointed head of the institution for FIPPA purposes. While the Office of the University Secretariat has primary responsibility for the administration of FIPPA-related matters, a great deal of information is routinely available at McMaster without the need to submit a formal request. Formal Freedom of Information requests must be directed to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Coordinator in the University Secretariat, who will contact the appropriate university department. Forms for use in making such formal requests can be found on this site. In most cases, responses to requests for information must be made within 30 calendar days.