Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has applied to local public bodies such as school boards, health authorities, post-secondary educational institutions, including the University of Calgary since 1999.

The University and all of its staff members have both rights and obligations under FOIP.

Notification Under the Act

The Act directs the University to inform individuals about why we collect personal information, what authority we have to collect it, and who can be contacted to answer questions about the collection. All new employees are informed when they first provide their personal information and other employees should note the following:

  • The personal information collected by or on behalf of Human Resources is collected under the authority of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the Statistics Act, the Employment Equity Act, and the Taxation Act.
  • The personal information collected is required for administrative purposes and is disclosed to relevant academic and administrative units.
  • Specific data elements are disclosed to the federal government to meet reporting requirements and to the Faculty Association or AUPE in accordance with the collective agreements.
  • The following have been defined as the employee's public record: relevant educational qualifications, current rank or position, department/faculty affiliation, job family, salary range, office address, email address and office telephone number. All other personal data are considered confidential.
  • Individual employees may have their contact information restricted for specific security reasons.

Duty to Assist

The Act imposes a duty to assist anyone who requests access to information in the custody or under the control of the University. It requires all employees to make every reasonable effort to assist applicants and to respond to students and or other employees or staff openly, accurately, and completely.

Staff should continue to release information, respond to requests for information, or provide copies of records unless there is something in FOIP that prevents the disclosure.

If information cannot be disclosed or the required information is included with other information that cannot be disclosed, the applicant may need to file a formal access request. Since the University has only 30 calendar days to respond to a formal access request it is helpful to refer the application to the Information and Privacy Coordinator as soon as possible.

The University has a network of FOIP advisors with at least one FOIP advisor in each Department. If you are not sure whether information should be disclosed, contact your unit FOIP Advisor or the Information and Privacy Coordinator, Legal Services.

Protection of Personal Information

The University must protect personal information by making reasonable security arrangements against such risks as unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, or destruction. All staff should familiarize themselves with the policy guidelines dealing with the posting of student grades, the distribution of student assignments, and the provision of letters of reference for students or staff. The consent form required before a reference can be provided to someone outside the University of Calgary is found at in the forms section of this website. These can be accessed on the FOIP Web page.

Staff should also adopt practices that ensure an appropriate level of security for information in their custody or under their control.
For example:

  • Records containing personal information should never be recycled or discarded in a wastebasket. If records need to be discarded they should be confidentially shredded.
  • Access to personal computers and terminals should be controlled by the use of passwords.
  • Filing cabinets containing personal and/or confidential information should be locked and in a secure location.
  • Faxes containing personal and/or confidential information should be received only at a secure location.

Retention of University Records

FOIP does not prohibit the transfer, storage, or destruction of University records. However, Section 3 (e) of the Act states that all retention decisions should be made in accordance with a resolution or some other legal instrument by which the University acts. According to University policy, the University Archives is responsible for establishing retention rules. Archives staff or approved retention rules are to be consulted before any records are destroyed.

FOIP and the Recruitment Process

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy legislation which governs the University of Calgary has an important and significant impact on how the University recruits both support and academic staff. In the Guidelines document, Recruitment and Selection, you will find information that will assist you as a leader recruiting new staff or as a member of a selection charged with this crucial task.

Need More Information?

More information on FOIP, including Policy Guidelines on Employee Records, compliance, and training is available through the University Legal Services website or by contacting the FOIP Coordinator in University Legal Services.