Canada launches access to information review

From: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Openness, transparency and accountability are guiding principles of the Government of Canada.

Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board, announced the launch of the first review of Canada’s access to information process. The review will seek the input of Canadians on the changes brought in through Bill C-58 last year to ensure the access to information regime is responsive to our ever-changing digital world.

Targeted changes made to the Access to Information Act in 2019 represented the most significant amendments to the Act since 1983. These changes included:

  • the elimination of all fees apart from the $5 application fee,
  • a stronger role for the Information Commissioner, and
  • new requirements for proactive publication of government documents that have provided Canadians with unprecedented insight into the government’s priorities, decision-making and operations.

Recognizing that the digital world is always changing, the Government introduced a requirement for regular access to information reviews every five years, with the first one to start by June 21, 2020. Regular reviews will ensure Canada’s access to information regime stays in step with future advances.

These measures will help Canadians access trustworthy, verifiable information and reaffirms our commitment to an open, transparent and accountable government.

The review offers an opportunity to have conversations with Canadians on how the Government can improve Canadians’ access to trustworthy and verifiable information.

The review will welcome input from the Information Commissioner and from Canadians across the country. The government will also engage Indigenous people and organizations to ensure that the access to information process is responsive to Indigenous peoples’ needs and perspectives.

The Government will take advantage of new digital approaches to engage with Canadians on the issues. More details about engagement opportunities will be shared in the coming weeks.

Quotes

“Our government strongly believes in openness, transparency, and accountability. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of open, accessible, and trustworthy information from governments. This review is part of our efforts to ensure the access to information regime is working for Canadians, and we encourage all Canadians to participate. “

– Jean-Yves Duclos, President of the Treasury Board of Canada

Quick facts

  • The Government strengthened access to information in Canada with targeted improvements that took effect in 2019. Those changes included regular, five-year reviews of the access to information process with the first review to begin by June 21, 2020, the one-year anniversary of the coming-into-force of the new legislation.

  • Bill C-58, an Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, was introduced in Parliament in June 2017 and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019.

  • Modernizing the Access to Information Act is a commitment that was included in the mandate letters of the previous President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Democratic Institutions. It is also one of Canada’s commitments in its 2018-2020 National Action Plan on Open Government.

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