Using the Sunlight Project is easy. Here’s how it works:

To start, simply enter keyword combinations into the “Summary search” box. It will automatically show you every freedom-of-information request summary containing those words.

Users may want to try different combinations of keywords or filtering by year or ministry to further refine their searches.

Once you’ve identified a request that interests you, the Sunlight Project makes it easy to file your own request to obtain the corresponding records. 

First, click the “Copy the information” button, which automatically copies all of the request’s details to your clipboard. From there, click the “Request records” button, which will open the provincial government’s online freedom-of-information request platform

Then, fill out the form, following the prompts and entering your own information, and paste the copied information into the Description of Records field. The fee for filing an FOI request in Ontario is $5, which you’ll have to pay before submitting your request. 

We encourage users to play around with the database to see the wealth of information that is now at your fingertips. This tool isn’t just for finding and requesting other people’s FOIs. Our hope is that it inspires people to think more broadly about how they can file their own original requests and empowers them to continuously increase the volume of records that are in the public domain. 

What information is contained within the Sunlight Project?

The Sunlight Project contains the details of over 75,000 freedom-of-information requests filed to Ontario’s 28 ministries and the Premier’s Office. It tracks the summary of the requests, the year they were released, the date of the release and the disposition of the release.

The disposition of the release indicates what the institution decided to do in response to the original request for records. There are several different categories within this field: 

  1. All information disclosed means everything that was requested was released and unredacted;
  2. Disclosed in part means that some of the information requested was withheld or redacted;
  3. Nothing disclosed means nothing was disclosed to the requestor. This could mean several things, including the records were completely exempted under the Act;
  4. No records exist means the requested records do not exist;
  5. Transferred to another institution means the original request was sent to the wrong ministry and was consequently transferred out. It is not always clear which ministry ultimately received the request;
  6. Withdrawn or Abandoned means the original requestor withdrew or abandoned their request and, therefore, nothing was released. 

Users will likely notice that some information is missing from some institutions. For example, not every ministry tracks how many pages were released. Just because a particular request says zero pages were released does not necessarily mean nothing was released. It could mean that they don’t track that information. We’ve done our best to flag this in the database. 

All of this information was provided by provincial ministries and, as such, we cannot guarantee that everything is 100% accurate. We’ve done our best to correct obvious errors but the vast majority of what is contained within the Sunlight Project is presented as it was released.

The Sunlight Project is a collaboration between the Investigative Journalism Bureau and University of Toronto Libraries.

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If you appreciate this resource and the work we do, please consider supporting this work with a tax-deductible donation here.

The Sunlight Project is a collaborative partnership between the Investigative Journalism Bureau and University of Toronto Libraries.

Return to the Sunlight Project.