Tip Sheet 4 - FIPPA Exclusions and Exemptions

selecting records

Ontario’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) provides that every person has a right of access to a record in the custody or under the control of the University.

Exclusions: some records do not fall under FIPPA, so the Act does not apply. In addition, there are mandatory and discretionary exemptions for other types of records – the information may be exempted from disclosure in response to a request for access to information.  See Guidelines for Units Responding to Access to Information Requests for details.

 This list of exclusions and exemptions is not exhaustive. It represents a summary of those most likely to be applied at the University.

Consult FIPPA for additional details.


FIPPA does not apply to certain kinds of records. If someone makes a request for records which are excluded from FIPPA, the information will not be disclosed.  Below is a partial list of records which are excluded from the Act:

Labour Relations – s.65(6) and (7)

  • proceedings or anticipated proceedings before a tribunal or other entity.
  • Negotiations or anticipated negotiations re labour relations or employment of a person.
  • Meetings, consultations, discussions, communications about labour relations or employment-related matters in which the university has an interest.

But FIPPA does apply to:

  • Agreements with unions.
  • Agreements which end proceedings.
  • Agreements resulting from negotiations.
  • Employee submitted expense accounts.

This means that if a request is made for access to these types of records they might be disclosed unless they fall under one of the exemptions (Item 2, below).

Research and Teaching materials – s.65(8.1)

  • Records regarding research conducted or proposed by an employee.
  • Records of teaching materials collected, prepared or maintained by an employee.

But FIPPA s.65(9) and (10) does apply to:

  • Subject matter and funding received with respect to research.

Records not under the control of the University – s.10

  • Records of corporate entities that are independent of the University. Because of business dealings with the University, information of these entities may be in the custody of the University but not controlled by it and FIPPA does not apply.  This might be the circumstance of records belonging to an educational foundation, a land development company or a student organization.


Certain types of records either must not (mandatory) or may not (discretionary) be disclosed in response to a request for access, if it is determined by the University that they are exempted from disclosure. Below is a partial list of records which must be, or may be, exempted from disclosure:

Advice or Recommendations – s.13

  • Advice or recommendations of an employee or consultant related to a suggested course of action to be accepted/rejected during the deliberative process, unless the record is more than 20 years old or the head has publicly cited the record as the basis for making a decision or formulating a policy.

But some reports and most factual material must be disclosed.

Law Enforcement – s.14

  • When disclosure could interfere with an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding or from which a law enforcement proceeding is likely to result.

This might apply to: administrative tribunals, student/employee disciplinary investigations, etc.

Government Relations – s.15

  • When disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the conduct of government relations or reveal information received in confidence from government or its agencies.

Third Party Information – s.17(1)                 Mandatory

The information must not be disclosed where it meets the following conditions:

  • Type of information - a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, and
  • Supplied in confidence, implicitly or explicitly, and
  • Result in harm
    • to competitive position,
    • result in information no longer supplied,
    • result in undue loss or gain, or
    • reveal information supplied to or the report of a conciliation officer, mediator, labour relations officer or other person appointed to resolve a labour relations dispute.

Economic Interests – s.18(1)(a) and (c)

  • Records that contain trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to the institution and has monetary or potential monetary value or where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the economic interests or competitive position of the institution.

Institutional Plans – s.18(1)(e-g)

  • Records that contain positions, plans, procedures, criteria or instructions to be applied to any negotiations; plans relating to the management of personnel or the administration of the institution that have not yet been put into operation or made public; proposed plans, policies or projects where the disclosure could reasonably be expected to result in premature disclosure or undue financial benefit or loss to a person.

Tests – s.18(1)(h)

  • Tests, testing procedures or techniques that are to be used for an educational purpose if disclosure could reasonably be expected to prejudice the use or results.

Closed Meetings – s.18.1(1)

  • Substance of deliberations of a meeting of the governing body or a committee of the governing body of an educational institution if a statute authorizes holding the meeting in the absence of the public and the subject-matter of the meeting is a draft of a by-law, resolution or legislation; or is litigation or possible litigation.

Solicitor-Client Privilege – s.19

  • Records that are subject to solicitor-client privilege
  • Records that are prepared by or for counsel employed or retained by an educational institution for use in giving legal advice or in contemplation for use in litigation.

Personal Privacy – s.21                                     Mandatory

  • Personal information must not be disclosed to anyone other than the individual to whom it relates except:
    • Where the individual has consented in writing to disclosure, if the record is one to which s/he is entitled to have access;
    • In compelling circumstances affecting health or safety;
    • Where it is collected and maintained for the purpose of creating a record available to the general public;
    • Where disclosure is expressly authorized by an Act of Ontario or Canada;
    • For a research purpose, where specific conditions are met;
    • If disclosure does not constitute an unjustified invasion of personal privacy.

Personal Information – s.49

  • Personal information may not be disclosed to the individual to whom it relates where:
    • Specified exemption applies; s.49(a)
    • Disclosure would be an unjustified invasion of another’s privacy; s.49(b)
    • Information supplied in confidence and is evaluative/opinion material compiled to
      • Assess teaching materials or research; s.49 (c.1)
      • Determine suitability, eligibility or qualification into academic program; s.49 (c.1)
      • Determine suitability for honour or award; s.49 (c.1)
    • The information is a research or statistical record; s.49 (f)

See FIPPA for additional circumstances in which personal information may not be disclosed to the individual to whom it relates.

This document has been developed to assist in establishing good practices and procedures.  Additional questions or requests for advice on records and information management or information and privacy issues should be referred to the Information and Privacy Coordinator: info.privacy@yorku.ca.