You’ve likely heard of Freedom of Information requests, which is the mechanism by which government and public sector institutions must respond to specific questions asked by the public, other organizations and the media.
Beginning in January, 2012 the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA)—the law that provides everyone with the right to access a wide variety of documents held by public institutions—is being expanded to include all Ontario hospitals. It also protects the privacy of the personal information we collect, and gives individuals the right to access their information.
This is the most significant transparency and accountability initiative the Hospital has been asked to undertake, and we are embracing this legislation as an organization.
Since we will be required to provide requested information in a timely fashion and to ensure we can achieve this, we will be making some changes around how we create and organize our records. These changes are designed to ensure we are following best practices so that we can respond promptly to Freedom of Information requests through indexing of relevant information. Many types of research records are exempt from disclosure for competitive, intellectual property or ethical reasons. We’ll be providing more details on the types of information that we are obligated to provide.
A few key representatives from the Lunenfeld will be our FIPPA leads and will be working closely with the Hospital’s taskforce that has been assembled specifically to prepare for this initiative and ensure that we are complying as an organization.
When a formal request for information pertaining to Lunenfeld research is received by the hospital, it will first be sent to and reviewed by the Institute’s FIPPA leads. The appropriate lab administration representatives will be contacted about the request so that the detailed information can be found, analyzed and organized. This process must be completed within 10 calendar days. The hospital will then review the file for its eligibility to be released under the Act. Information prior to January 2007 is not subject to review under FIPPA.
In the weeks ahead you will be updated with more information about how FIPPA affects your daily work, and the tools and resources available to help you understand and prepare for FIPPA. Specifically, resources will be posted on our Intranet including backgrounders, FAQs, descriptions of research exemptions and exclusions, as well as contact information for our FIPPA leads.
While this will require some action on your part, we will work to minimize its impact on you. However, it is important to understand that this is an important aspect of transparency and accountability to the public.