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7 Things to know about CSC Access to Information Act requests

Inmates seeking to get records from the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) can make requests under the Access to Information Act. Below are a few points relevant to federal inmates making requests under the act:

  1. Any information the government controls can be requested. Requests do not need to be limited to paper documents; information in any medium or form can be requested. This includes videotapes, audio recordings, emails, pictures, etc.
  2. An application must be submitted to CSC’s Access to information and Privacy Division. A letter can be sent describing the requested records or an Access to Information Request Form can be filled out and submitted.
  3. There is a $5 application fee. This is an initial fee that covers 5 hours of searching and 125 pages of copying. Additional fees may be charged if the request requires more time ($10 per hour) or printing ($0.20 per page).
  4. Applications take time to process. CSC has 30 days to respond, but the act allows for extensions if the request cannot reasonably be completed within the 30 day time limit. CSC may grant itself several extensions and ultimately take several months to respond to the request.
  5. CSC has the authority to refuse to disclose records for a variety of reasons. For example, it may not release any records that contain personal information or that, if disclosed, “could reasonably be expected to be injurious to the security of penal institutions”. The various exemptions  are set out in sections 13-29.
  6. A complaint can be filed about CSC’s response to an Access to Information request. If an individual is dissatisfied with the response, then a complaint can be filed with the Information Commissioner of Canada within 60 days of the response.
  7. Personal information can be requested through the Privacy Act. This act gives individuals the right to access their own personal information. Request under the Privacy Act are free to make, and individuals can also make requests to correct their personal information.
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