McGill University, like other public institutions in Québec, is subject to the Act Respecting Access to Documents Held by Public Bodies and the Protection of Personal Information (the “Act”). The Act allows any person to obtain—upon request—documents held by a public body, subject to certain restrictions.
What is 'Access to Documents'?
The Act establishes a ‘right of access’ to documents held by public bodies in the exercise of their duties. A ‘document’ means information recorded in writing or print, on sound tape or film, in computerized form, or otherwise. For the right of access to apply, the document must exist at the time that a request is submitted. Because the right of access applies to information recorded in a document, and only to documents that exist at the time, the University is not obliged to create documents or perform calculations to respond to requests for documents.
The Act enumerates several restrictions that the public body may invoke to the right of access.
The Commission d'accès à l'information (CAI) is the government agency responsible for implementing and overseeing the Act.
Proactive Disclosure: Commonly Requested Information
The following links offer pathways to information that McGill proactively releases on a routine or periodic basis. For access to such information, there is no need to submit a formal request.
Annual Reports: McGill’s most recent annual report to the National Assembly, which includes information on compensation of the senior administration (État de traitement). Previous reports may be found on the National Assembly Website by searching for “McGill” in the tabled documents of different sessions.
Admissions Profile: Enrolment Service’s snapshot of McGill’s student admissions by year, including information on the number of students admitted, students’ geographical origins, and admissions by university unit.
Enrolment Reports: Enrolment Service’s detailed overview of enrolment and graduation statistics. This includes enrolment information by faculty, department, and with respect to international students.
Budget Book: This reflects the financial information as approved in the budget book by the Board of Governors.
Salary Scales: Human Resources’ overview of salary scales for McGill staff.
Submitting an Access to Documents Request
At McGill, the person in charge of access to documents is the Secretary-General. Requests may be submitted to the Secretary-General by mail, by email (accesstodocuments.secretariat [at] mcgill.ca), or by phone. To have the right to appeal the response to your request before the CAI, you must submit your request in writing.
Secretary-General, Access to Documents and Protection of Personal Information
James Administration Building, Room 313
845 Sherbrooke Street West
Montréal (QC) H3A 0G4
514-398-1568 (Please note that requests for personal information are only receivable in writing)
Receiving documents from an access request is generally free, but certain fees can result. Please consult Québec’s Regulation respecting fees for the transcription, reproduction or transmission of documents or personal information for more information.
The following webpages may also be helpful:
For general questions, or for more information on accessing documents held by McGill, consult Lucy Brown, Regulatory Officer, by email (accesstodocuments.secretariat [at] mcgill.ca) or by phone (514-398-1568).
Requests for Administrative Information
Administrative documents are documents that contain information regarding the general operations of the University. Certain administrative documents, such as drafts and preliminary notes, are exempted from the right of access.
Requests for administrative documents may be made in writing or by telephone (though only a written request allows you to apply for review of the decision to the CAI). Such requests must be specific enough to enable the person in charge to locate the documents requested. Please note that you will only receive a written response if you make a request in writing.
Requests for Personal Information
The Act defines personal information as any information concerning a natural person that allows that person to be identified. As a general principle, all personal information is confidential and cannot be disclosed without the consent of the person concerned. Everyone, however, has a right of access to documents that contain their own personal information.
Requests for personal information must be made in writing. A request for personal information without any further precisions means a request for the contents of a personal file held by McGill in the exercise of its functions.
Staff members requesting the contents of their personnel files may contact Human Resources. Students requesting the contents of their student files may contact Enrolment Services. Please note that only requests for personal information submitted through the Secretariat are eligible for the right of appeal pursuant to section 135 of the Act.
What Happens After a Request is Submitted?
After you submit a request, the Secretariat will send an email acknowledging receipt of your request, and will notify you if clarifications are required. If clarifications are necessary, the request will be deemed to be received on the day the clarifications are received.
The Act stipulates that a response must be provided to you within 20 calendar days of the date of receipt. The University may, with notice given in writing, invoke a 10-day extension to the 20-day deadline. Please be advised that if documents are provided by a third party and it is necessary to contact the third party to obtain permission to release them, you will be notified of the additional delays involved. If the University fails to respond within the specified timelines, it is deemed under the law to have refused your request and you are entitled to apply to the CAI for a review of this decision. If the University denies access to a document or to information contained in a document, it must cite the section of the Act upon which the denial is based.