Because it's our right to know.
Integrity, Transparency, Accountability — A Better Niagara (ABN) believes those are three key pillars of democracy. This page is devoted to transparency.
Citizens cannot make good decisions if they are kept in the dark about the workings of their elected officials. Canadians have a right to Freedom of Information. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency by elected officials, here in Niagara, to make decisions behind closed doors. This has led to secret meetings, secret contracts and all the bad governance that has plagued this Region.
In the interest of encouraging transparency and keeping the public better informed, ABN has made, and will continue to make, Freedom of Information (FOIs) requests to municipal and regional government and other public agencies. When we receive the information requested, we will publish them on this page. The information may include contracts for municipal staff, emails between elected official, expense claims or other relevant material.
The FOIs will be categorized according the municipality, agency or organization they originate from with a brief explanation of what they are.
Please feel free to have a look through any of these documents and raise any questions you have with your elected officials. We also encourage and support others to request public documents from our governments and agencies. For more information on submitting FOI requests, continue reading below.
Things to know about Freedom of Information ('FOI') in Ontario
Under Ontario law (FIPPA and MFIPPA) all citizens have a right to ask certain public-sector organizations in Ontario for information they hold. Anyone can make a request for information — there are no restrictions based on age or where you live.
The initial cost for a request is $5, although institutions have the right to request more if fulfilling the request will take a lot of time and effort.
Once your request is filed the institution has 30 days to provide you with a response. The application is a simple one page document that you fill out and present to the institution along with the $5 filing fee. The link for the form is:
The form is not fillable online, you must print it and fill it out by hand.
In recent years some governments in Niagara have refused to fulfill legitimate FOI requests, generally this has been an attempt to frustrate the citizen's rights for transparency within our institutions. If an institution refuses to provide information to you, or if they provide information that is incomplete or heavily censured you can appeal their decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC). The cost for an appeal is $25 and the form can be found at this link:
This form is fillable online but must be printed and signed and mailed in by post along with the $25 fee.
The IPC has the ability to order institutions to release documents they deem releasable. In the past three years the release of information through this system has been vital at uncovering the corruption of our past term of Regional governance. The Freedom of Information system is a vital tool for transparency in Niagara. Ideally governments around Niagara would adopt policies of transparency and make most information available online, but until we reach that point all citizens should feel free to exercise their rights to know what their government is doing.
Many Directors within A Better Niagara have had extensive experience in the FOI system and any citizen feeling unsure, or just needing a little help, should not hesitate to ask for our assistance.
Freedom of Information: because it's our right to know.