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 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 the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) in terms of supporting and providing policy advice and guidance to more than 265 federal institutions in respect of the administration of the Access to Information Act (ATIA).

Date Actions Improvements Benefits
Ongoing Maintain engagement and outreach activities with Indigenous organizations:
  • to continue to inform work to address administrative and operational barriers to access
  • to advance the policy areas outlined in the report within the broader federal implementation of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples.

Continue to support the reflection of Indigenous needs and interests in a coherent way in continuous improvements to the Access to Information (ATI) regime and in the Department of Justice’s work on Privacy Act modernization.

  • Advancing Indigenous Reconciliation
  • Strengthening the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Supports the Government of Canada ongoing commitment to respecting and supporting Indigenous self-determination in Canada, including by improving Indigenous access to information and supporting Indigenous-led information and data strategies.
Ongoing Continuing to onboard institutions that fall under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) onto the ATIP Online portal, where requesters can now submit requests to 228 institutions and organizations.
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Improve ATIP online user experience by making it easier for Canadians to access government information via a simple, central website, where they can submit requests to government institutions covered by the ATIA.
Ongoing The Access to Information and Privacy Community Development Office (APCDO) contributes to the development and sustainability of the ATI and Privacy communities via recruitment, retention, learning, networking, and partnership activities with a spirit of diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility through community engagement.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps enhance the capacity of ATIP offices to provide Canadians with access to government information in a timely manner by attracting new talents to the ATIP offices and providing ATIP professionals with centralized training and professional development programs.
Ongoing Public Safety Canada, in collaboration with the National Security and Intelligence (NSI) community, Library and Archives Canada, and TBS, is spearheading a declassification initiative that includes:
  • an Interdepartmental Declassification Working Group responsible for providing advice on the proactive declassification of historical NSI records on an ongoing basis and to inform declassification policy work across government
  • 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
  • a pilot completed in June 2022 to review high priority records against the draft framework
  • planned consultations with domestic and foreign stakeholders to inform the draft framework and future declassification proposals and plans
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Through the declassification initiative, the government aims to promote transparency and improve access to national security-related information. This will foster a better understanding of activities undertaken by the NSI community.
Summer 2023 Updating the Treasury Board Secretariat Access to Information Manual for ATIP practitioners to guide and standardize ATIP community practices, including in support of more inclusive right of access.
  • Advancing Indigenous Reconciliation
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Assists in ensuring that ATIP practitioners have the tools to deliver a consistent client-centered service to individuals that are seeking to exercise their right of access.
Winter 2023 Exploring the development of guidance to government institutions to reduce administrative and financial barriers to access to government information by Indigenous requesters or acting on their behalf.
  • Advancing Indigenous Reconciliation
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
In the spirit of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and to promote substantive equality, this policy change would aim at facilitating access to government information for Indigenous requesters or those acting on their behalf.
Winter 2023 Onboarding the first cohort of federal institutions onto newly-procured modern ATI processing software.
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Leveraging modern technologies to improve the processing and tracking of ATI requests by government institutions.
Winter 2023 Reviewing the approach to the annual statistical reporting required under the ATIA to continue to better identify systemic issues in a manner that considers the reporting challenges for institutions.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
Improving reporting by government institutions on the administration of the ATIA to better track ongoing trends and help identify shortcomings.
Winter 2023 Launching a working group with the proactive publication community to help guide the creation of additional guidance on proactive publication as per Part 2 of the ATIA.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
Facilitates information-sharing of best practices on proactive publication and supports the development of guidance to help institutions improve their compliance with proactive publication requirements under Part 2 of the ATIA.
Winter 2023 Updating the ATI Regulations to ensure consistency with the ATIA, following the 2019 legislative changes, and with the current practices and requirements on identification verification.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
Ensures consistency between the ATI Regulations and the ATIA as well as between the ATI Regulations and the Privacy Regulations as it relates to identity validation requirements.
Winter 2023 Examining and implementing options for raising awareness and providing training to the ATIP community related to Indigenous peoples and their specific access to information considerations.
  • Advancing Indigenous Reconciliation 
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
Helps ensure that ATIP professionals have the essential cultural competency required to better deliver culturally appropriate services to Indigenous Peoples.
Fall 2022 TBS issued implementation guidance to clarify that consultations between institutions on ATI requests should be undertaken only when necessary and to narrow the scope of such consultations.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Improves the efficiency of inter-institutional consultation on ATI requests to help reduce delays resulting from this process.
Fall 2022 Developing government-wide training tools to support the Access to Information and Privacy communities. The APCDO started offering onboarding sessions to new ATIP professionals as well as training sessions on specific sections of the Act.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Supporting training and professional development of the ATIP communities will help increase the capacity of ATIP offices to provide access to government information in a timely manner.
Summer 2022 TBS concluded an evaluation assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of proactive publication under the ATIA.
  • Strengthening the ATIP Community
  • Transparency
  • Processes and timeliness
The evaluation has provided recommendations to improve the proactive publication process and increase the efficiency of proactive publication processes within institutions.
Summer 2022 In July 2022, improved user experience of the  ATIP Online.

The new features allow requesters to:

  • sign into a secure website to make ATIP 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 ATIP Online

ATIP Online allows 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 allow users to submit requests without having to repeatedly provide the same information.
Users can receive responses to their request electronically through the same platform used to submit it.
Summer 2022 In July 2022, the Policy on Access to Information and Directive on Access to Information Requests came in effect. These updated policy instruments have been published on the TBS website and reflect the legislative changes made to the  ATIA in 2019.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
Helps improve consistency of TBS policy suite following legislative changes and codify best practices for the ATIP community.
Spring 2022 TBS launched a renewal of the Standard on Metadata. A symposium on Metadata was held with participants and panelists from government, academia and private sector. The event was intended to understand the current environment on metadata and begin to shape the policy direction. The objective of the renewal is to develop a new Standard that will ensure metadata-related requirements for both information and data are updated to reflect current and future information and data management practices and technologies. It is anticipated that the new Standard will take effect in Summer 2023.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Processes and timeliness
Metadata ensures information and data can be well managed and enables the FAIR principles for information and data (findable, accessible, interoperable and re-useable). It will help improve efficiency in retrieving records in response to ATI requests. It will also provide for a consistent approach to metadata and metadata application and management across the government.
Spring 2022 TBS launched the APCDO to support the ATIP communities in 2022-23. The APCDO will support ongoing external recruitment activities, as well as retention, training and professional development.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps develop a strong community of ATIP professionals across Government of Canada to uphold the right of access to information and privacy for Canadians.
Spring 2022 As of June 2022, summaries of completed ATI requests are published every 30 days on the Open Government portal and remain publicly available, a change to the previous practice of removing summaries after a period of two years.
  • Transparency
Users are able to search an increasing volume of summaries of ATI requests.
Spring 2022 TBS and Public Services Procurement Canada have completed a competitive request for proposal process to establish contracting vehicles to allow for a new ATIP request processing software. TBS will support the implementation of the new request processing software by Government of Canada institutions to ensure a streamlined approach across government.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Updated technologies improve service delivery in responding to ATI requests.
Spring 2022 TBS developed a new Standard on Systems that Manage Information and Data which came into effect in May 2022. The standard takes a principles and outcomes-based approach to the management of information and data across the Government of Canada.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Processes and timeliness
Robust information management systems help ensure that information and data are well-managed and can be made available through ATI requests.
Winter 2022 TBS launched an external recruitment exercise to create a pool of qualified candidates to address existing resource pressures across the government. Following this exercise, TBS launched a pre-qualified ATIP Professionals pool in Summer 2022.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps increase institutions’ ATIP processing capacity by adding new ATIP professionals from both inside and outside the public service.
Winter 2022 TBS released guidance to federal institutions to streamline the review process before proactive publication.
  • Transparency
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps increase the efficiency of proactive publication processes within institutions by streamlining the review prior to publication.
 Winter 2022 The Chief Information Officer of Canada sent correspondence to deputy heads to remind them of their legal obligations under the ATIA as they plan for return to workplaces, and to signal the expectation that access to information is considered among critical services in business continuity planning.
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps ensure plans are in place to address ATI request backlogs and that the legal obligations of the ATIA are fully met, including in more challenging contexts.
Winter 2022 TBS and the Canada School of Public Service co-sponsored a digital event that showcased innovative digital tools that can help facilitate the processing of ATI requests.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Helps increase the efficiency of institutions in responding to ATI requests through the use of innovative digital tools.
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. The focus was on improving data quality, web accessibility for data, and application programming interfaces to publish and consume open data.

This training reduced the number of documents that required large-scale changes for accessibility purposes, which made 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.
Spring 2021 In April 2021, Budget 2021 committed $12. 8 million (on an accrual basis, $14. 2 million cash) to support improvements to the Access to Information and Privacy Online Request service, to accelerate the proactive release of information to Canadians on the Open Government portal, to enhance performance monitoring and reporting and to complete the ATI Review.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • Transparency
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
Increases the government’s capacity to advance initiatives related to ATI.
Winter 2021 TBS engaged more than twenty federal institutions to update the ATI summaries template used for publication to the Open Government Portal. The updated template was implemented in April 2021.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
The updated reporting template facilitated data entry and improved data quality, official languages compliance as well as the searchability and discoverability of ATI summaries data on the portal.
Summer 2020 In July 2020, TBS engaged federal institutions in workshops to share the digital ATI processes in place at various institutions, including practices in place at Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Infrastructure Canada.
  • Strengthening the ATIP community
  • ATI services
  • Processes and timeliness
The workshops supported institutions in their capacity to continue processing ATI requests remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Summer 2020 TBS engaged 300 public servants in June 2020 on guidance for proactively releasing information and data on the Open Government portal. This engagement 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
Enabled users in obtaining information that is easily accessible and provided in the official language of their choice.
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