Government of New Brunswick

When do you need to use RTIPPA to access information?

When looking for public information, the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (RTIPPA) is intended to be used as a last resort.  In most cases, information you are looking for can be obtained by contacting the appropriate public body or by checking out their website, where many reports and other materials are made available.  If you are still unable to get the information you are looking for, you can make a request under the provisions of RTIPPA.

RTIPPA does not replace existing procedures for accessing any information that is normally available to the public.  Also, if a certain type of documentation is already available for a fee, such as a birth certificate or a driver abstract, the documents cannot be accessed under RTIPPA.  You must follow the regular processes for obtaining these types of records.
     

Are there records that cannot be accessed?

Section 4 of the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act lists the various types of records that are not subject to the Act, and therefore cannot be accessed by a RTIPPA request.  These include:

   
(a)
information in a court record, a record of a judge, a judicial administration record or a record relating to support services provided to a judge or to a court official;
 
(b)
a record pertaining to legal affairs that relate to the performance of the duties and functions of the Office of the Attorney General;
 
(c)
a note made by or for, or a communication or draft decision of, a person who is acting in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity;
 
(d)
a record of a member of the Legislative Assembly who is not a Minister of the Crown;
 
(e)
a personal or constituency record of a Minister of the Crown;
 
(f)
a record made by or for an officer of the Legislative Assembly;
 
(g)
a record made by or for an elected official of a local public body relating to constituency matters;
 
(h)
teaching materials of an employee of an educational institution or other research information of an employee of an educational institution;
 
(i)
information the release of which is prohibited under the Security of Information Act (Canada);
 
(j)
a record in the care, custody and control of the Provincial Archives; and
 
(k)
a record in the care, custody and control of the archives of a public body placed in the archives by or for a person or agency other than the public body.

 

Which public bodies are subject to RTIPPA?

For the names and contact information of public bodies that are subject to the Act, please consult the Directory of Public Bodies.

RTIPPA does not apply to the private sector.  The privacy obligations of private sector business, non-profit and professional organizations in New Brunswick are set out in the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronics Documents Act (S.C. 2000, c. 5) and its regulations.
    

How you can make a request

The Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out a legislated process by which you can exercise your right to access information respecting the public business of public bodies.

If you are unable to access the information you want by using an informal approach or by other established procedures, you can make a request for that information under RTIPPA.  You can either use the form available, or you can write a letter outlining your request under the Act.

Simply follow these three steps:

Step 1 Determine which public body is most likely to have the information you are looking for and get the relevant contact information from the Directory of Public Bodies.  Ideally, all requests made under RTIPPA should be addressed to the relevant Coordinator. If the name of the Coordinator is not known, please add “Attn: Right to Information and Protection Privacy” to your request. This will help allow for a faster response.

Step 2 You must include the following information in your request:

  • A description of what you are looking for, including the subject-matter of your request and the time, place and nature of the event.  Please be as specific as possible, as this will better enable the relevant records to be identified;
  • Your name and mailing address;
  • Your e-mail address, if any;
  • A telephone number where you can be reached;
  • The date of the request;
  • That your request is being made as a request for access to a record under the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
  • The name of the business organization on behalf of which you are making the request, if any;
  • Whether you are asking to examine a record (i.e. in person, at the public body’s location); and
  • Whether you are asking for a copy of a record and (where it is possible to send the record electronically) whether you are able to receive the record by electronic means.

Step 3 Send your request to the head of the relevant public body.  Please note: there are no longer any fees for requests made under the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

All requests must be in writing.  An oral request will only be accepted from an applicant if the applicant is unable to read and write in English or French, or if the applicant has a disability that prevents the applicant from completing a written request.

If you are requesting public or personal information on behalf of someone else, you will need written authorization to do so.  This authorization can be in the form of a signed letter, a Power of Attorney, or other legislated authorization. Please see section 79 for more details.
     

When can you expect a response?

The head of a public body will reply to you, in writing, within 30 days of receiving a request. 

In this response, you may be granted the information you are seeking, in whole or in part, or the information may be refused for reasons that will be identified to you.  In certain circumstances, the head of the public body may need to do the following before responding:

Extend the 30-day time period.  The head of a public body is permitted to extend the time period for providing the requested information for a maximum of 30 additional days if:

  • There is not enough detail given in the request to enable the public body to identify the desired record(s).  In such a case, the public body will contact the applicant for clarification and the applicant will have 30 days to respond.  If the applicant does not reply within 30 days, the request will be considered to be abandoned, and the public body will send a notification to this effect.
  • The request includes a large number of records, or responding to the request within the original 30-day timeframe would interfere unreasonably with the daily operations of the public body.
  • The information requested includes information relating to a third party, and the head of the public body needs more time in order to determine whether it is appropriate to give access to the third party information.
  • The information requested is related to records that are part of a court proceeding.

Transfer your request to another public body. This would occur if the head of the public body has determined that the records you are requesting:

  • were produced by or for the other public body;
  • were first obtained by the other public body; and/or,
  • are in the custody and control of the other public body.

The head of the public body has 10 days to transfer the request and to notify you that your request for information has been transferred to another public body.  The head of the receiving public body has 30 days after receiving the request to respond (unless the time is extended for reasons described above), as if it was received directly from the applicant.
    

What if you don’t receive a response?

If you don’t hear back from the public body after sending your request, you have up to 120 days (from the day you sent your request) to file a complaint to the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding the public body’s lack of a response.  See Review Process for details on how to file a complaint.
     

What information cannot be released to you?

RTIPPA provides for two types of exceptions that may affect the release of information:  mandatory exceptions and discretionary exceptions.  The types of information that are considered to be exceptions to the general right to information are listed below; more details can be found in the wording of the legislation itself (see links).
     

Mandatory Exceptions – Confidential Information 

In most instances, the public body is not permitted to release the following types of information:

  • Cabinet documents and other records that would reveal Cabinet confidences (Section 17)
  • Information provided in confidence by another government (Section 18)
  • Information provided in confidence by a First Nations council (Section 19)
  • Certain information relating to a harassment, personnel or university investigation (Section 20)
  • Personal information that would be considered an unreasonable invasion of a third party’s privacy (Section 21)
  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to a third party’s business or financial interests (Section 22)
         

Discretionary Exceptions – Information Released at the discretion of the Public Body

The head of the public body may withhold the following types of information:

  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to government relations (Section 23)
  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to relations between New Brunswick and a First Nations council (Section 24)
  • Information that would reveal local public body confidences (Section 25)
  • Advice, opinions and recommendations given to a public body (Section 26)
  • Legal advice given to a public body and other information subject to solicitor-client privilege (Section 27)
  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to an individual’s health or safety or to public safety in general (Section 28)
  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to law enforcement, corrections or legal proceedings (Section 29)
  • Information the disclosure of which would be harmful to the economic or financial interests of a public body (Section 30)
  • Information that would compromise the validity of tests, testing procedures and audits (Section 31)
  • Confidential evaluations about the eligibility or suitability of a person for employment or an award (Section 32)
  • Information that is already or will soon be available to the public (Section 33)

If any records relating to a request for information are being withheld, the public body is required to identify the reason(s) and inform the applicant of the right to have the decision reviewed by the Access to Information and Privacy Commissioner or the Court. 

For more information on the review process, please go to the Review Process section of this website.