Government of Canada tables the most comprehensive reform of Access to Information in a generation
June 19, 2017 – Ottawa – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Openness, transparency and accountability are guiding principles of the Government of Canada. Today, in the most comprehensive information reform in a generation, President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison introduced significant amendments to modernize the Access to Information Act, expand the scope of the law and make more government information open by default.
The package proposes to break new ground by giving the Information Commissioner increased powers, including the ability to order the release of documents. It creates new requirements for proactive publication of a broad range of information and extends those to more than 240 government institutions. These changes will put more government information in the hands of Canadians and provide greater transparency on the use of public funds.
For the first time, legislated proactive disclosure will be included under the Act and applied to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ offices, Members of Parliament and Senators, as well as institutions that support Parliament and the courts. A full legislative review of the Act would be required every five years so that it never again becomes outdated, with the first review beginning no later than one year after Royal Assent.
The Government’s modernization of the Access to Information system began with interim measures introduced in 2016 and will continue with future reviews. The proposed amendments confirm the interim measures and include new ones to modernize the efficiency and performance of the access to information system.
“Thirty four years is too long without major reforms to Canada’s access-to-information system. Today we’re taking action to make information open by default and easily accessible to Canadians, solidifying this country’s leadership role in the global movement to improve transparency and open government.”
— Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board
“This legislation would ensure that the Access to Information Act is applied appropriately to the administrative bodies that support the courts, enhancing accountability and transparency, while protecting the independence of the judiciary.”
— Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“For the first time, the Access to Information Act will require the proactive disclosure of information by the Prime Minister's Office, Ministers’ offices, parliamentarians, administrative institutions that support Parliament, and others. Today's reforms are an important step in an ongoing review and modernization of the Act. Our government is raising the bar and enshrining a culture of openness and transparency across government.”
— Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions
The government stopped collecting fees other than a $5 application fee last year and will continue this practice.
Since the Act came into force on July 1, 1983, the Government has processed 762,243 access to information requests, or about 85 every working day.
Canadians can view summaries of completed requests online on the Open Information section of open.canada.ca.
New proactive publication requirements will not apply to the publication of any information that would interfere with judicial independence and Parliamentary privilege nor would they apply to information that is subject to solicitor-client privilege or could compromise the security of persons or goods.
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Office of the President of the Treasury Board
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
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