Government Sector

The Government of British Columbia

Each provincial government has a law that protects the privacy of your personal information. In British Columbia that law is called the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). FOIPPA has several purposes:

  1. To give the public the ability to access some of the records held by government bodies;
  2. To prevent unauthorized collection, use and disclosure of personal information by public bodies;
  3. To give individuals a right of access and a right to request correction to their own personal information that is held by public bodies; and
  4. To give individuals the right to complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC, who can review the decisions and actions of government bodies and can make orders if he concludes that the Act has not been followed.

FOIPPA applies to most records held by government bodies with some exceptions, including certain court records, like those held by judges and tribunals; certain records of education materials or exam questions; and records relating to a prosecution if all the proceedings have not been completed.

The Government of Canada

The federal law is called the Privacy Act. The Privacy Act works in conjunction with the Access to Information Act. Together, the two laws work the same way that FOIPPA works in British Columbia: one part protects individual privacy, and the other part gives people a right to get access to information (other than personal information) held by government.

These laws require governments to follow specific rules and put some limits on how they can share information between departments, agencies and with other governments. The Privacy Act protects the privacy of personal information collected, used and disclosed by the federal government and certain specified agencies; it also gives individuals a right to access and request correction of their personal information.

The Privacy Act allows you to complain to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and subsequently to the Federal Court of Canada, if you disagree with how the federal government has handled your personal information. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada will look into your complaint and work to find an appropriate resolution to the problem.

The Access to Information Act gives every member of the public some ability to access information held by government. Complaints about how the government has handled a request for access are handled by the Information Commissioner of Canada, and subsequently the Federal Court of Canada.

For information about the laws of other provinces and the three territories, please see: