Friday, April 03, 2015

Canada's Information Commissioner Proposes Major Expansion of Access to Information Legislation

Suzanne Legault, the Information Commissioner of Canada, earlier this week proposed a major modernization of the federal Access to Information Act that would extend the legislation's coverage to currently exempt government bodies.

Under the Act passed more than 30 years ago, any Canadian citizen can ask federal government departments and agencies for access to internal documents with some exceptions (defence, law enforcement investigations, cabinet confidences, etc.). Those agencies must respond within 30 days or explain why a delay is required.

Annual reports by the Office of the Information Commissioner have documented major delays as well as problems related to the exclusion under the Act of many types of important documents and of many government bodies.

Mme. Legault is therefore recommending that the Act:
  •  cover the Prime Minister’s Office, ministers’ offices, the institutions that support Parliament and the administration of the courts
  • add a legal duty to document the decision-making process to ensure that official records are created, and a legal duty to report the unauthorised destruction or loss of information
  • require that any delay beyond 60 days  be subject to the authorization of the Office of the Commissioner
  • outline that clear limits be placed on the exemptions that must remain to protect specific types of information

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:51 pm

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