About the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia was the first province in Canada to enact a Freedom of Information Act in 1977. Since that time, all other jurisdictions in the country have followed suit. The Act was replaced in 1993 by the considerably improved Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (in force 1994). All government departments and agencies were brought under the Act. Subsequently in 1999, a new Municipal Government Act was passed. It included access and privacy provisions similar to the provincial Act and applied to all municipalities and municipal bodies. In 1999, the provincial Act was also extended to cover local public bodies including hospitals, universities, colleges and school boards.
Pursuant to the Acts, all public bodies, municipalities and local public bodies are obliged to adopt a policy of accountability, openness and transparency and to provide a right of access to information with limited exemptions. They are also obliged to ensure the protection of individuals' personal privacy.
...the legislation in Nova Scotia is deliberately more generous to its citizens and is intended to give the public greater access to information that might otherwise be contemplated in the other provinces and territories in Canada. Nova Scotia's lawmakers clearly intended to provide for the disclosure of all government information (subject to certain limited and specific exemptions) in order to facilitate informed public participation in policy formulation; ensure fairness in government decision making; and permit the airing and reconciliation of divergent views. No other province or territory has gone so far in expressing such objectives.
Since 1994 the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation has included an opportunity for an independent review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner (Commissioner). The staff of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia (NS OIPC) support the Commissioner to resolve freedom of information matters through research, investigation, analysis and mediation. If a matter cannot be settled through mediation, it is referred to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for consideration.
The Privacy Review Officer Act [“PRO Act”] was proclaimed into law in September 2009. Citizens who feel that provincial public bodies have breached their privacy can now complain by making a Request for Review to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (Privacy Review Officer) as the designated oversight body. Please note that the Privacy Review Officer Act does not apply to municipal public bodies and there is no similar legislation at this time.
The Personal Health Information Act [“PHIA”] came into force on June 1, 2013. PHIA governs the collection, use, disclosure, retention, disposal and destruction of personal health information. It gives citizens a right to file a Request for Review of decisions made by health custodians to the NS OIPC.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding access to information or protection of privacy or the review process, please contact us
Since 1994 the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation
has included an opportunity for an independent review by the Commissioner. The NS OIPC staff supports the Commissioner in resolving freedom of information and privacy matters through research, investigation, analysis informal resolution and mediation. If a matter cannot be settled through informal resolution or through mediation, it is referred to the Information and Privacy Commissioner for consideration.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia includes the Information and Privacy Commissioner, the Director of Investigations and Mediations, three Investigators and an Intake Manager.
Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia
The Information and Privacy Commissioner for Nova Scotia is Catherine Tully
The Commissioner is an independent ombudsman appointed by the Governor in Council for a term of five to seven years. The Commissioner will accept appeals, known as Requests for Review, from applicants or third parties who are not satisfied with the response they received from a public body or health custodian as a result of an application pursuant to the legislation
The Commissioner does not have the power to make final and binding orders. However, she does have the power to require a public body to produce any document for her review which she feels is relevant. She may also enter and inspect any premises occupied by a public body. Once a review has concluded and the Commissioner has considered the arguments of both parties, the Commissioner will produce a report which may make recommendations to the public body. The public body is obligated to respond to these recommendations in writing.
The Commissioner is responsible for the overall administration of the NS OIPC and since 1999 the Commissioner has issued an annual report and tabled it in the Legislature.
Director of Investigations and Mediation
The Director is responsible for the supervision of the NS OIPC staff, human resources, finances and business operations of the NS OIPC.
The Investigators are responsible for the investigation and informal resolutions of Requests for Review of decisions made by public bodies and health custodian pursuant to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Part XX of the Municipal Government Act, the Privacy Review Officer Act and the Personal Health Information Act. Investigators also investigate privacy complaints and privacy breach reports.
The key responsibilities of the Investigator include investigating Requests for Review and initiating informal resolution discussions to bring about a resolution of the dispute before it reaches the formal Review process with the Commissioner.
The Intake Manager is the first point of contact for all inquiries and provides initial assessment of all inquires and Requests for Review. Intake includes obtaining copies of responsive records, clarifying issues under Review and working with public bodies, health custodians and applicants to informally resolve Reviews.
The Intake Manager applies and interprets legislation and precedent to advise and assist public bodies, health custodians and members of the public seeking information about privacy, access to record and appeal processes under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Part XX of the Municipal Government Act, the Privacy Review Officer Act and the Personal Health Information Act.
to contact the NS OIPC Team.