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Strengthening access to information legislation

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On April 11, 2006, the Government of Canada introduced the Federal Accountability Act and Action Plan, delivering on its commitment to make government more accountable. The Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006. This is one of a series of fact sheets describing proposed actions to respond to this commitment.

The context

Access to government information allows Canadians and organizations to participate more fully in public policy development and better assess the Government of Canada's performance. The Access to Information Act sets out the right of Canadians to access information that the Government of Canada holds, with limited exceptions.

Many groups and individuals, including the Office of the Information Commissioner, have been calling for changes to the access law to make government more open.

What this means for Canadians

By expanding the coverage of the Access to Information Act, the Government is more transparent and more open. It provides Canadians with access to more information from Crown corporations, Agents of Parliament, government-funded foundations, and the Canadian Wheat Board. At the same time, the Government will explore ways to further strengthen access to information legislation in consultation with parliamentarians and Canadians to ensure that their concerns receive careful attention.

The Action Plan

To promote a culture of openness and accessibility, the Government has strengthened access to information legislation. Effective December 12, 2006, the Federal Accountability Act has increased the number of investigators the Information Commissioner may use for investigations concerning information related to defence or national security.

Effective April 1, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • expands the coverage of the Access to Information Act to the Canadian Wheat Board, and to the following Agents of Parliament and foundations created under federal statute:

    Agents of Parliament

    • Office of the Information Commissioner;
    • Office of the Privacy Commissioner;
    • Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages;
    • Office of the Chief Electoral Officer; and
    • Office of the Auditor General;

    Foundations created under federal statute

    • Canada Foundation for Innovation;
    • Canada Foundation for Sustainable Development Technology;
    • Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation;
    • Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada; and
    • The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

Effective September 1, 2007, the Federal Accountability Act:

  • provides a duty for institutions to assist requesters without regard for their identity;
  • expands the coverage of the Act to include wholly owned subsidiaries of all parent Crown corporations covered under the Act; and
  • expands the coverage of the Act to include the following seven additional Crown corporations:
    • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation;
    • VIA Rail Canada Inc;
    • Atomic Energy of Canada Limited;
    • National Arts Centre;
    • Public Sector Pension Investment Board;
    • Export Development Canada; and
    • Canada Post Corporation.

In addition, the Federal Accountability Act ensures that institutions added to the coverage of the Access to Information Act will also be covered by the Privacy Act.

For more information

For more information on this specific measure, please refer to the relevant section of the Action Plan, or contact us.

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