Faculty have custody and control of most documents and records they create in their workplaces. This means these records are not in the custody and control of the university, and so are not subject to requests filed under access to information legislation.
The physical location of records are not a determining factor here, given the longstanding customary practice of faculty having custody and control of their own records. This is key to academic freedom. For example, if you were to cease working at a university, you would not leave behind all your course materials or research. This is because these documents belong to faculty. Indeed, FIPPA excludes teaching and research material along with other employment related documents.
The only records subject to access to information requests are those which fulfil an administrative function for the university – for example, the records of deans and department chairs, along with faculty correspondence with the university administration, fall under the custody and control of the university. Cloud services can be a grey area here, as some agreements do place this information under university control.
What should you do if you are advised by the administration that your records have been subject to an access to information request? Contact your faculty association immediately. Please do not agree to this request before consulting your FA.
For more information, please see the CAUT Advisory, Custody & Control of Academic Staff Records.