Freedom of Information
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests are formal requests for records of the City of Toronto.
Before submitting an FOI request, visit How to Access City Information or Records to see if the information you are looking for is already available. FOI requests should not be submitted for information that is available on the City website, from a City division by request, or for information that is held by other governments or government agencies.
The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) establishes a general right of access to the information held by local governments and institutions. The Act also protects the privacy of individual’s personal information that are part of government records. Some limits to the right of access are described in Step 1 below, Things To Know Before Making an FOI Request. Read through the steps below to submit an FOI request.
Freedom of Information Request Process
1. Things to Know Before Making an FOI Request
Before submitting a formal FOI request, visit How to Access City Information or Records to see if the information you are looking for is already available.
Here’s what you should know when making your FOI request:
- Provide as much detail as possible about the records or information you are requesting. This helps staff locate the information you are looking for. If you can, specify the type of information you are looking for such as, the dates for the information you are requesting and the City office or division that has the information you are requesting.
- If you are requesting information about a property, you should submit one request per municipal property address.
- A $5 application fee is required to submit an FOI request. Additional fees are applicable for processing and photocopying.
- You will receive a response within 30 days from the time you submit your request and $5 application fee. You may be contacted if there is not enough information in your request or to seek clarification on the City records you are looking for.
- A time extension may be required if your request involves an extensive search or a large volume of records.
- There are some exceptions to what you can obtain through the FOI process. Specific exemptions are listed in the Municipal Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act.
- Review Step 2: Frequently Requested Records before submitting your request.
Important note: The City of Toronto does not process FOI requests for records of the institutions listed below. You must contact these institutions directly to request records from them:
2. Frequently Requested Records
The following frequently requested records are not available:
- Traffic camera footage (Road Emergency Services Communication Unit videos are on a live feed and are not recorded)
You do not need an FOI request to obtain records that are already available or will be available soon.
Frequently requested information that is available through a direct request to the City division include:
- Fire Incident Reports
- Property records, such as building records/plans (available to the property owner or their legal representative)
- Ambulance Call Reports (available to the patient or their legal representative)
- Court records
- City Planning Development and Committee of Adjustment applications for 2008 to the current year
- Environmental Records, for example Environmental Notices of Violation, soil and groundwater analyses results, Phase 1 Environmental Assessments
A full list of routinely disclosed information is available here. There may be a fee charged for some requests.
3. How to Submit an FOI Request
Please make sure to review Step 1: Things to Know Before Making an FOI & Step 2: Frequently Requested Records above before making your request.
Requests can be submitted online, in-person or by mail. All requests must be submitted with the $5 application fee required under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. For a full listing of fees, see Fee Schedule for FOI Requests.
If you are requesting records or information that contain your own personal information, proof of identity must be provided.
FOI requests are not accepted by fax or email.
You can download the FOI application form and submit your request in person to Registry Services counters in any of the Toronto Civic Centre locations (Note: there is no counter service at East York Civic Centre, Metro Hall and York Civic Centre).
Office hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday (excluding statutory holidays).
You can also download the FOI application form and mail it to our office together with a $5.00 cheque/money order payable to the City of Toronto.
City Clerk’s Office
Corporate Information Management Services
Toronto City Hall, 13th Floor West Tower
100 Queen Street West
Toronto ON M5H 2N2
4. After the Decision (Appeals to the Information & Privacy Commissioner)
Once your request is processed, you will receive a letter containing a decision about your FOI request, any fees owing (e.g. fees for photocopying, computer disks or search time) and how to make a payment for fees.
Requests for information held by the City of Toronto are made to the Access and Privacy Unit of the City Clerk’s Office. Decisions on access to information are subject to independent review by the Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario.
If you are not satisfied with the decision made by the City, you can file an appeal with the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC).
An appeal must be made within 30 calendar days of receiving the decision. To file an appeal you must write to the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office indicating you are appealing the City’s decision.
Your letter should include a copy of your original FOI request and a copy of the City’s decision letter. Forward your request for an appeal with the appropriate fee to the Commissioner’s office.
The City is responsible for protecting personal information and providing access to information under these provincial Acts.
Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA)
The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act establishes a general right of access to records held by municipal government and local agencies, boards and commissions using these principles:
- any information held by government should, in general, be available to the public
- any exemptions from the right of access to information should be limited and specific
- any decisions relating to access to information can be reviewed by the independent Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
- any person may make a request for information held by a government institution covered by the Act.
Ontario Reg. 823, accompanies MFIPPA and provides a list of the fees charged for processing FOI requests.
Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA)
The Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) has strict rules designed to protect your personal health information in the City’s custody. The following City divisions are considered Health Information Custodians under this Act:
- *People, Equity & Human Rights (formerly Human Resources) – Employee Health Services (for City of Toronto staff only)
- Toronto Paramedic Services
- Toronto Public Health
- Seniors Services and Long Term Care (formerly Long-Term Care Homes and Services)
Contact these City divisions directly to access your personal health information.
*The City Clerk’s Office only accepts FOI requests for personal health information for People, Equity & Human Rights (formerly Human Resources).