Access to Information Act
|Access to Information Act|
|An Act to extend the present laws of Canada that provide access to information under the control of the Government of Canada|
|Citation||Access to Information Act|
|Enacted by||Parliament of Canada|
|Date assented to||1985|
Access to Information Act (R.S., 1985, c. A-1) or Information Act is a Canadian act providing the right of access to information under the control of a government institution. It declares that government information should be available to the public, but with necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific, and that decisions on the disclosure of any government information should always be reviewed independently of government.
By 1982, twelve countries, including the France, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the U.S. (1966), had enacted modern ATI legislation. Canada's Access to Information Act came into force in 1983, under the Pierre Trudeau government, permitting Canadians to retrieve information from government files, establishing what information could be accessed, mandating timelines for response. This is enforced by the Information Commissioner of Canada.
There is also a complementary Privacy Act, introduced in 1983. The purpose of the Privacy Act is to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by a federal government institution and that provide individuals with a right of access to that information. It is a Crown copyright. Complaints for possible violations of the Act may be reported to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
Canadian access to information laws distinguish between access to records generally and access to records that contain personal information about the person making the request. Subject to exceptions, individuals have a right of access to records that contain their own personal information under the Privacy Act but the general public does not have a right of access to records that contain personal information about others under the Access to Information Act.
From 1989 to 2008, requests made to the federal government were catalogued in the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System.
In 1987, the Solicitor General of Canada tabled a unanimous report to Parliament, Open and Shut: Enhancing the Right to Know and the Right to Privacy which contained over 100 recommendations for amending the ATI and privacy acts.
In 1998, the government would append a clause to the Access Act, making it a federal offence to destroy, falsify, or conceal public documents.
In August 2000, the Ministry of Justice and the president of the Treasury Board launched a task force to review the Access Act. The committee’s report, delivered in June 2002, found “a crisis in information management” within government.
Université de Moncton professor Donald Savoie’s 2003 book, Breaking the Bargain, argues that in Canada there is a reluctance to put anything in writing, including e-mail, that might find its way into public discourse.
In the fall of 2003, John Bryden, attempted to initiate a comprehensive overhaul of the Act through a private members bill, Bill C-462, which died on the Order Paper with the dissolution of the 37th Parliament in May 2004. A similar bill was introduced by NDP MP Pat Martin on 7 October 2004 as Bill C-201.
In September 2008, a 393 page report sponsored by several Canadian newspaper groups, compared Canada’s Access to Information Act to the FOI laws of the provinces and of 68 other nations titled: Fallen Behind: Canada’s Access to Information Act in the World Context.
In October 2010, an international comparison of access to government information ranked Canada last; a significant change from only a decade before when the country often served as a model for freedom of information internationally. The University College London study comparing Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland was published in Government Information Quarterly.
- Freedom of information in Canada
- Freedom of information legislation
- Info Source - repository of information available through Privacy Act and Access to Information Act
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2011)|
- "A Love Affair with Secrecy". Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- "The Dark Country". Archived from the original on 3 January 2010. Retrieved 18 January 2010.[unreliable source?]
- "THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT AND RECENT PROPOSALS FOR REFORM". Retrieved 18 January 2010.
- [http=http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6W4G-50P527G-1&_user=789572&_coverDate=10%2F31%2F2010&_rdoc=8&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_origin=browse&_zone=rslt_list_item&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%236542%232010%23999729995%232315755%23FLA%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=6542&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=22&_acct=C000043356&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=789572&md5=85c20310848b6a9edbbc2a0dede5a012&searchtype=a "Assessing the performance of freedom of information"]. Retrieved 12 January 2011.