Routine Access Policy

Chapter:                                  8. Information Management

Section:                                   8.3 Routine Access

DEPUTY MINISTER APPROVAL

Approved by:              Julie Towers, Deputy Minister

Approval date:           November 17, 2020

Effective date:            January 13, 2021

  1. Policy Statement

    This routine access policy for the Department of Lands and Forestry is designed to provide the public with an opportunity to obtain certain categories of records without a formal application under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP Act). It shall be administered in accordance with the following principles:

    1. Personal Privacy

      The policy shall be applied in a manner which will be considerate and protective of the personal privacy of the individuals. Records subject to this policy shall be considered for release and severing in a manner consistent with the FOIPOP Act.

    2. Timeliness

      The Department will respond to requests made under the routine access policy in a reasonable and timely fashion.

    3. Cost Recovery

      Fees for the reproduction and provision of records may be charged where authorized by policies, regulations or statutes.

    4. Transparency

      This policy shall be made readily available to the public.

    5. Reasonableness

      This policy shall apply to requests for reasonable quantities of records.

    This policy shall also be consistent with the Government Records Act and policies under the Act.

  2. Definitions

    Access

    Either the provision of a copy of the records in question, or providing a means and opportunity for the applicant to view the records, whichever, in the sole discretion of the Department, is administratively most efficient as distinct from FOIPOP access.

    Active dissemination

    The periodic and proactive release of information or records in the absence of a request, using mechanisms such as the internet, libraries, etc.

    FOIPOP access

    Release of an existing record in response to a formal FOIPOP application made under the FOIPOP Act.

    Confidential information

    Includes information:

    1. that would reveal:
      1. trade secrets of a third party; or
      2. commercial, financial, labour relations, scientific or technical information of a third party;
    2. that is supplied, implicitly or explicitly in confidence; and
    3. the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to:
      1. harm significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the negotiating position of the third party; or
      2. result in similar information no longer being supplied to the public body when it is in the public interest that similar information continues to be supplied; or
      3. result in undue financial loss or gain to any person or organization; or
      4. reveal information supplied to, or the report of, an arbitrator, mediator, labour relations officer or other person or body appointed to resolve or inquire into a labour-relations dispute.

    Record

    Includes books, documents, maps, drawings, photographs, letters, vouchers, papers and any other thing on which information is recorded or stored by graphic, electronic, mechanical or other means, but does not include a computer program or any other mechanism that produces records; FOIPOP Act.

    Personal information

    Recorded information about an identifiable individual including the individual’s name, address or telephone number; race, national or ethnic origin, colour, or religious or political beliefs or associations; age, gender identification, sexual orientation, marital status or family status; an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned to the individual; fingerprints, blood type or inheritable characteristics; the individual’s health-care history, including a physical or mental disability; educational, financial, criminal or employment history; and anyone else’s opinions about the individual and the individual’s personal views or opinions, except if they are about someone else; FOIPOP Act.

    Routine access

    Release, in full or in part, of certain types of administrative or operational records as a matter of course in response to a request without the need for a formal application for records under the FOIPOP Act.

  3. Policy Objectives

    This policy reflects the spirit of openness and accountability of the FOIPOP Act. The objective is to provide a reasonable alternative for access to records that may be eligible for release under routine access, as identified by the Department.

    This policy is intended to reduce the administrative burden involved in processing FOIPOP applications for certain types of records. The approach is not intended to create more demands on resources than the current system of processing requests under the formal FOIPOP application process.

  4. Application
    • 4.1. This policy applies to all Department employees.
    • 4.2. A request under this policy applies only to the records created after October 23, 2003.
    • 4.3. This policy shall apply only to requests for reasonable quantities of records. Repetitive requests by an individual for a significant volume of records shall not be subject to the policy.
    • 4.4. Requests made under routine access do not apply to information subject to exemptions under the FOIPOP Act.
  5. Policy Directives
    • 5.1. Requests for information under this policy will be handled by the Information Access and Privacy (IAP) Administrator for the Department or the persons designated as having the responsibility of responding to routine access requests.
    • 5.2. The IAP Administrator for the Department shall sever personal and/or confidential information from the records being accessed under this policy, using the same criteria and in the same manner as requests made under the FOIPOP Act.
    • 5.3. The Department shall not reproduce or distribute any materials protected by copyright law.
    • 5.4. This policy only applies to records that would normally be under the custody or control of the Department.
    • 5.5. Once a request for routine access to a particular record, or set of records, has been received by the IAP Administrator for the Department, it shall be reviewed to determine if the records are eligible for release under routine access.
    • 5.6. If the policy applies to the request, the IAP Administrator for the Department, or the persons designated as having the responsibility of responding to routine access requests, will provide the records to the applicant within a reasonable period of time, such as 30 days from the receipt of the request.
    • 5.7. If the policy does not apply to the request, the IAP Administrator for the Department, or the persons designated as having the responsibility of responding to routine access requests, shall respond promptly to the requester and indicate what other avenues may be available to them to obtain the information.
    • 5.8. Individuals who apply under the FOIPOP Act for records that are released under the routine access policy will have their FOIPOP application fee returned.
  6. Policy Guidelines
    • 6.1. Requests may be made by phone, mail, or e-mail.
    • 6.2. A person making a request under this policy will be required to provide the following: name and contact information.
    • 6.3. Fees for the reproduction and provision of records may be charged where authorized by policies or regulations.
  7. Accountability
    • 7.1. The Deputy Minister shall be accountable for the implementation of this policy.
    • 7.2. Executive Directors are responsible for ensuring that employees follow the policy directives and guidelines.
    • 7.3. The Director, Corporate Services, is responsible for ensuring the review and approval of this policy occurs at least every five years.
    • 7.4. The IAP Administrator or the persons designated as having the responsibility of responding to routine access requests for the Department is responsible to advise employees of the Department how to assist the public when a request is made for records under routine access.
    • 7.5. The policy will be posted on the Department website and made available in hard copy upon request.
  8. Monitoring
    • The Director, Corporate Development, will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of this policy.
    • Should a Corporate routine access policy, or equivalent, be implemented, this policy will be reviewed to ensure alignment or be rescinded, as relevant.
  9. References
    • This policy must be read in conjunction with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    • The following legislation and policies relate directly to this policy:
      1. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
      2. Government Records Act
      3. Corporate Records Management Policy
      4. Lands and Forestry Records Management Policy
  10. Enquiries, Review and History

    For enquiries contact:

    Director, Corporate Services
    Information Management and Support Services Division
    1701 Hollis Street, 3rd Floor
    Founders Square
    PO Box 698
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Canada  B3J 2T9
    Phone: 902-424-5935

    Next review date:       2021-01-15

    To be reviewed by:     Director, Corporate Services

                                        Information Management and Support Services Division

    Previous revisions:      October 23, 2004

    First implemented:     October 23, 2003