Key Actions on Access to Information

Below is a list of key actions, implemented, planned or underway, to improve access to information and transparency. These actions do not require any legislative amendments and address some of the concerns and feedback raised previously by the Information Commissioner and by stakeholders in the context of the Access to Information (ATI) Review.

This work is in addition to the ongoing work of TBS in terms of supporting and providing policy advice and guidance to more than 265 federal institutions in respect of the administration of the ATIA.

Date Actions Improvements Benefits to Canadians
April 2020

The Policy and Directive on Service and Digital took effect on April 1, 2020, requiring that employees document activities and decisions of busines value so that this information is available, including to Canadians through ATIP requests.

TBS issued additional guidance to employees on the importance of managing government information while working remotely.

  • Transparency
  • Processes and timeliness

The duty to document helps ensure that records of key government decisions and activities are available to Canadians through access to information requests.

Facilitates retrieval of records to support timely responses to requests for information by Canadians.

June 2020

TBS engaged 300 public servants in June 2020 on guidance for proactively releasing information and data on the Open Government Portal. This helped to increase the internal awareness of the tools available for institutions to publish even more open information and open data.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency

Supports Canadians in obtaining information that is easily accessible and provided in the official language of their choice.

July 2020

TBS engaged federal institutions to showcase the digital ATI processes in place at various institutions, including practices in place at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Infrastructure Canada.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

The workshop supported institutions in their capacity to continue processing ATI requests remotely in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the benefit of Canadians.

April 2021

Budget 2021 committed $12.8M (on an accrual basis, $14.2M cash) to support improvements to the Access to Information and Personal Information Online Request Service (AORS), to accelerate the proactive release of information to Canadians on the Open Government Portal, to enhance performance monitoring and reporting and to complete the Access to Information Review.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Increases the government’s capacity to advance initiatives related to access to information.

Summer 2021

TBS trained more than 500 data publishers within federal organizations and in the Open Government, Access to Information, Information Management and Technology communities. Focus was on improving Data Quality, Web Accessibility for Data, and Application programming interfaces to publish and consume Open Data. This reduced the number of documents that required large-scale changes for accessibility purposes, making the publication more efficient.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Helps ensure Canadians have access to quality data that is easily understandable and consumable.

Winter 2022

TBS and the Canada School of Public Service will co-sponsor a digital event that will showcase innovative digital tools that can help facilitate the processing of ATI requests.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Help increase the efficiency of institutions in responding to ATI requests by leveraging innovative digital tools.

Winter 2022

TBS will release guidance to federal institutions to streamline the review process prior to proactively publishing materials.

  • Transparency
  • Processes and timeliness

Help increase the efficiency of proactive publication processes within institutions by streamlining the review prior to publication.

Winter 2022

Launch an external recruitment exercise to create a pool of qualified candidates to address existing resource pressures across the GC.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Processes and timeliness

Will increase the capacity of ATIP Offices to provide Canadians with access to government information in a timely manner.

Spring 2022

TBS and PSPC will complete a competitive Request for Proposals to establish contracting vehicles to allow for a new ATIP Request processing software. TBS will support the implementation of new request processing software by GC institutions to ensure a streamlined approach across institutions.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Updated technologies improve service delivery in responding to access to information requests

Spring 2022

Improve user experience of the Access to Information and Personal Information Online Request Service (AORS 3.0). The new features will allow requesters to:

  • sign into a secure website to make access to information requests and personal information requests, using two-factor authentication;
  • have an account where their basic information is saved so they do not have to re-enter it every time they make a request;
  • track the status of all their requests through their own dashboard; and,
  • receive their completed request responses through the AORS

AORS 3.0 will allow institutions to:

  • send completed requests directly to the requester through ATIP Online, avoiding CD-ROMs, paper and mail
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Secure accounts will allow Canadians to submit requests without having to repeatedly provide the same information.

Canadians will be able to receive responses to their request electronically through the same platform used to submit it.

Spring 2022

Launch a Community Development Office (CDO) to support the Access to Information and Privacy communities in 2022-23. The CDO will support ongoing external recruitment activities, as well as training and professional development.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Will help ensure that Canadians have access to qualified staff to process their requests for information.

Spring 2022

TBS is developing a new Standard for Systems that Manage Information and Data. The standard takes a principles and outcomes based approach to the management of information and data across the GC. It is anticipated that the standard will come into effect in Spring 2022.

  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Processes and timeliness

Robust information management systems help ensure that information and data is well managed and can be made available to Canadians through access to information requests.

Spring 2022

Summaries of completed access to information requests are currently published every 30 days on the Open Government Portal and removed after a period of two years. TBS will extend the retention of the summaries of access to information requests beyond two years.

  • Transparency

Canadians will be able to search historic summaries of access to information requests.

Ongoing

Public Safety, in collaboration with the National Security and Intelligence (NSI) community, Library and Archives Canada, and the Treasury Board Secretariat, is spearheading a declassification initiative. This includes:

  • The creation of an Interdepartmental Declassification Working Group responsible for providing advice on the proactive declassification of historical NSI records on an ongoing basis;
  • The development of a draft NSI Declassification Framework, which provides guidance on a consistent and coordinated approach to declassifying historical NSI records proactively across the community;
  • Pilot launched in October 2021 to review high priority records against the draft framework; and
  • Planned consultations with domestic and foreign stakeholders to inform the draft framework and future declassification proposals/plans.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness

Through the declassification initiative, the government aims to promote transparency and improve Canadians’ access to national security-related information. This will foster a better understanding of National Security and Intelligence activities undertaken by the NSI community.

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