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Freedom of Information

The public has the right to see many records in the hands of governments and public institutions. These include cities, libraries, police services and crown corporations. Governments and public institutions can deny access to records in some cases.

Access to Information

The laws that deal with access to information set out when and how you can access information. Information that you want to access must be something that already exists, though it can be in any form. For example, it could be a print document, electronic document, photograph, or a video. Governments and public institutions do not need to create new documents for your access request. If they deny your access request, they must provide the reason why.

If a government or public institution denies access, they do not need to tell you whether the information exists.

Below are some examples of entities covered by privacy laws:

  • the federal and provincial governments
  • cities, towns and R.M.s
  • libraries, universities and police services
  • Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Saskatchewan Government Insurance
  • SaskPower

Mandatory Exemptions

There is some information that governments and public institutions must not release. For example, they cannot release:

  • information received in confidence from other governmental institutions
  • someone else’s personal information
  • trade secrets of a third party
  • information protected from disclosure by other laws
  • most provincial government documents related to the government’s executive cabinet that are not older than 25 years
  • most federal government documents related to the government’s executive cabinet that are not older than 20 years

There are some exceptions to these situations. For example, governments and public institutions may release information if the related parties consent to it.

Discretionary Exemptions

In some situations, governments and public institutions can decide whether to release information. For example, they can decide not to release documents:

  • that could harm relationships between governments or impact national security
  • that could interfere with law enforcement investigations
  • that include advice given to a government or government official
  • where doing so could affect the usefulness of auditing procedures or techniques
  • that could threaten the safety or physical or mental health of an individual
  • protected by solicitor-client privilege

Access Requests

A request for access to information must be made in writing to the entity that has the information. For provincial record requests, there are forms that you must use. When making a request, you should know what information you want and be as specific as possible.

Use this list of provincial institutions to find out where to send your request.

Once you have made your request, the government or public institution has 30 days to respond. They can charge a fee for searching for or copying the information. If you are not satisfied with their response you can ask for a review:

  • for provincial matters, the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner can review your case
  • for federal matters, the Information Commissioner of Canada can review your case

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PLEA gratefully acknowledges our primary core funder the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan for their continuing and generous support of our organization.