Making an FOI request

COVID-19 has temporarily changed the way we receive and process FOI requests. Due to COVID-19 there may be delays in receiving mails and couriers to the Privacy Office. At this time, we ask that all FOI requests be sent to Questions may also be directed to 416-864-6088.

  • NOTE: FOI requests apply to business- and staff-related information only. To access the health record of a patient or resident, go to How to access your health record

What is FIPPA?

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) is a provincial law that applies to most public institutions, including all hospitals and long-term care homes. The two main purposes of FIPPA are to provide the public a right of access to information about how an organization is run and to protect the privacy of personal information and other confidential information that Unity Health Toronto holds.

What type of information is available under FIPPA?

Operational or business records, including administrative or financial records, held by the hospital on or after January 1, 2007, may be requested under FIPPA. Anyone can ask to see general records (such as administrative, operational, and expense records). Please see our Directory of Records for a list of the types of information held by our organization.

Additionally, individuals (who are not patients) can ask to see and correct their own personal information.

Some types of information are excluded from FIPPA, for example:

  • Quality of Care information (as defined in the Quality of Care Information Protection Act)
  • Ecclesiastical records
  • Operations of the hospital foundation
  • Administrative records of a member of a health profession that relates to their personal practice
  • Research records
  • Charitable donations made to the hospital
  • Records relating to appointments and privileges
  • Certain labour relations or employment-related matters
  • Teaching materials

FIPPA also requires our organization to redact (leave out) certain types of information:

  • Third-party (corporate confidential) information
  • Information that is another person’s personal information

Finally, FIPPA allows our organization to choose to redact (leave out) certain types of information:

  • Certain types of advice or recommendations given to the organization
  • Information that could inhibit a law enforcement activity or investigation
  • Information that could affect the economic or other interests of the organization
  • Information from closed meetings
  • Legally privileged information
  • Information that poses a danger to safety or health

Please refer to FIPPA for a full list of exclusions and exemptions.

How do I make a FIPPA access request?

First, start by determining what records you need.

  1. If you are looking to access your own health record or a family member’s health record, please contact Health Records for this information.
  2. Unity Health already makes some information readily available to the public. You can search our websites for the information before making an access request.
  3. Review our Directory of Records to see what types of information are readily available.
  4. Contact the Privacy Office to discuss your request.

If the information you are looking for is not already publicly available, complete an Access Request Form and mail or deliver your written request to:

Privacy Office
Unity Health Toronto
c/o St. Michael’s Hospital
30 Bond St.
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1W8
Telephone: 416-864-6088

Please Note: A $5 application fee is required. Make cheques or money orders payable to St. Michael’s Hospital (for requests for information related to any Unity Health Toronto site, including Providence, St. Joseph’s and/or St. Michael’s). Cash payments must be made in person.

Tips for making requests:

  1. Make your request as clear and specific as possible. To avoid large processing costs and/or time delays, consider ways to narrow your request. The FOI coordinator will work with you to identify hospital records that are most responsive to your requirements.
  2. Provide as much detail as possible to specify which records you require. If possible, provide a date or time period for the records you are requesting.
  3. If you are unsure what records you might need or how to describe the records, contact us for help.

What happens after I make my request?

We will respond within 30 days of receiving an access request. Depending on the type of information you are looking for or the length of time it may take to collect the information, a time extension may be required, as allowed under FIPPA. We will communicate with you about the amount of time it will take to respond to your request and if there are additional steps that will be taken with your request (e.g. external review by owners of third party information).

There may be an additional fee charged to fill your request, depending on the size of the request. Fees can be charged for searching for records, preparing records and/or making copies of the record for release. If fees are estimated to exceed $100, you will be required to pay a 50 per cent deposit before your request is processed.

If you are not satisfied with our decision concerning your request, you may contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.