Thursday, May 29, 2008

2007-2008 Annual Report of Canada's Information Commissioner

Earlier this week, Robert Marleau, Information Commissioner of Canada, released his 2007-2008 annual report to Parliament.

This was Mr. Marleau's first full year in the position. The Information Commissioner is an independent federal official who reports directly to Parliament on access to information issues concerning federal institutions.

According to the backgrounder:

"This period was marked by considerable interest in the issue of access to government information and in the role of the Commissioner and his office in investigating complaints."

"The interest was partially spurred by changes to the Access to Information Act arising from the Federal Accountability Act, which included a significant increase in the number of institutions subject to the Act (70 to bring the total to more than 250). Another contributing factor was public debate about access to government information, sparked in particular by Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. There has also been ongoing, and welcome, scrutiny of the Commissioner’s effectiveness at using his influence as ombudsman to foster a culture of openness in government."

"The Commissioner and his office faced numerous challenges in the past year, not the least of which being a significant backlog of complaints waiting to be handled. The number of new complaints received increased by 80 percent from the previous year."
A statistical breakdown of last year's activities shows that 1,381 investigations of complaints into how various federal institutions handled access to information requests were completed.

The report also describes a few notable investigations including requests for information about Health Canada's Hospitals Injury Reporting database, the Afghanistan mission, Blackberry messages of the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Deputy Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Canada, and operations of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Law librarians might also be interested in the report's section summarizing several key access to information court cases that were decided in 2007-2008.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:32 pm


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