Commissioner Responds to Questions About Shredding of Government Records

May 7, 2015

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner provides the following information in response to questions concerning the destruction of government records following Tuesday’s election:

  • Under the Government Organization Act and Records Management Regulation, government ministers are required to develop a records management program establishing rules for the retention, destruction or archiving of public records.
  • Employees are required to adhere to these rules.
  • The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP Act) addresses retention and destruction of records in a number of provisions, specifically:
    • Personal information used to make a decision that directly affects an individual must be retained for at least one year after using it, so that the individual has a reasonable opportunity to obtain access.
    • It is an offence to willfully destroy records to evade access requests and may lead to a fine of up to $10,000.
    • The Commissioner has the power to conduct an investigation if laws related to the destruction of records are not being followed.

“There are rules for government ministries and their employees relating to the retention, destruction and preservation of records, and these rules apply and must be followed during the government’s transition period,” said Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton. “If there is evidence that the rules are not being followed, a complaint can be submitted to my office.”

The FOIP Act applies to records in the custody or control of public bodies, but does not apply to:

  • Records of the Office of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
  • Records of the offices of an MLA.
  • Personal or constituency records of a minister.