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Simon Shields,
LLB

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Appendix 2 -
Getting A Copy of Your ODSP File


Claimants and their advocates have a right to obtain a copy
of the claimant's ODSP file. However, the Director requires
that the request be made through the formal Freedom of
Information and Protection of Privacy Act ('FIPPA' or
'FOI') process. If the request is simple, individual ODSP
workers may be persuaded to provide copies of single
documents, but even then advocates will only receive them
once they have provided proper signed authorizations.

Similar FOI or "access" procedures exist for most other
municipal, provincial and federal government files containing
personal information, such as Ontario Works, EI, income tax,
military, prison, etc. Formal FOI requests are subject to a
number of exclusions (ie. deletions), such things as law
enforcement and third party information.

I commonly request an ODSP file when a case involves
financial issues or allegations of past non-compliance
by a client, such as undeclared spouse. Advocates will
find that having and reviewing the file in detail will
often clarify a confusing history, and at least explain
ODSP's behaviour. It is common to find within the file
materials or worker notes that exonerate a claimant's
behaviour or show that they were in compliance after all.

Below is a standard instruction package on making an FOI
ODSP request.




FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) REQUEST re Personal Information

Instructions

  • After sending the request to the proper office (below) with the required
    application fee (fees and fee waivers are discussed below), the Director will
    then respond with a letter quoting additional fees (if any) and what records
    are going to be withheld. If no fees are going to be charged then the released
    records will be sent directly.

  • This is the central office for all Ontario ODSP file requests. If
    necessary they will forward your request to the local office holding your
    files:

    Freedom of Information Co-ordinator
    Ministry of Community and Social Services
    Box 978
    77 Wellesley St West
    Toronto, Ontario
    M7A 1N3

  • If your ODSP situation involves other adults in the benefit unit (ie.
    spouse or dependent adult) then the normal FOI practice is to omit their
    names and details within the records, and to only include the applicant's
    information and documents. This can be avoided by enclosing a signed consent
    from such persons. It can be as simple as this:
    I, _____________________________ (name of dependent adult
    or spouse), hereby consent to the release of personal
    information relating to myself, and held by the Ministry
    of Community and Social Services, in conjunction with the
    enclosed Freedom of Information request made
    by __________________ (applicant).

    _________________________
    (signature)
  • Fees and Fee Waivers

    There is an initial $5.00 fee for a personal information request which should be
    made payable to the "Minister of Finance".

    If the person to whom the records relate is on social assistance (or otherwise
    cannot afford the additional copying fees, which can be about $150 for a mid-sized
    file) they may request a 'fee waiver' from the record-holder - but the financial
    circumstances must be explained with the request (or enclose a copy of a current
    welfare/ODSP pay statement). Fee waivers are not available for the $5.00 initial application fee.





    _________________________
    (date)


    To: Freedom of Information Co-ordinator
    Ministry of Community and Social Services
    Box 978
    77 Wellesley St West
    Toronto, Ontario
    M7A 1N3


    Re: ________________________________
    (name of requester)

    ________________________________
    (date of birth)

    ________________________________
    (other ID info if available, eg.
    SIN, ODSP #, etc)


    [__] Please find enclosed payment of the $5.00 application fee (mandatory).

    [__] I request a fee waiver of all subsequent fees because (eg. I
    am on ODSP/welfare):

    ____________________________________________________

    ____________________________________________________


    I hereby request copies of (check one):

    [__] the entire Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) file held by your
    institution respecting myself;

    OR

    [__] the following records:

    ____________________________________________________

    ____________________________________________________

    ____________________________________________________


    I authorize and request that you forward these documents to myself at:


    __________________________________

    __________________________________

    __________________________________

    Att: _____________________________

    Phone: ___________________________

    Sincerely,


    _________________________________
    signature

    _________________________________
    (printed name)
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