Saturday, January 14, 2012

Canada's Access to Information Act

Let's get some information out concerning the access to information process currently available in Canada.

For those looking for intimate legal details here is the Access to Information Act itself. The forms to fill out are available online from the Treasury Board of Canada's web site:
Access to Information Request
Determine which federal government institution is most likely to have the information you are seeking.

To apply for information under the Access to Information Act, complete the Access to Information Request Form. Describe the information being sought and provide any relevant details necessary to help the institution find it. If you require assistance, refer to Sources of Federal Government and Employee Information for a description of program records held by the institution or contact its Access to Information Coordinator.
There are some fees involved depending on the type of information requested and the source departments involved. You'll need to send your request to the appropriate Access to Information and Privacy Coordinators for the departments involved. It may be worth an email or a call to the appropriate party to make sure the details are up to date.

There are some tangled links between government sites but the confusion seems to lead eventually to the web site of the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada. Importantly, their page entitled Making an ATIA Request to the OIC contains the following snippet:
Also, a list of all requests made ... to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada under the Access to Information Act can be found here for quick reference.
The page referred to is the Completed ATIA Requests page. Note that you can request a copy of these previously completed requests.

However, as noted by the CBC, there are some remaining issues with respect to how this policy has been implemented by the government.

After all this I have one remaining question. If I find dirt on the government through an ATIA request will anyone know that I made the request? Given the behavior of the Harper government I'd rather not make myself visible to them. Strange that a citizen would feel that way isn't it?


Here is an interesting article on The Star explaining why Canada's freedom of information system is in a shambles...

1 comment:

  1. The Freedom of information is a slow process, much slower since government organizations have been slowing the process by resistance.

    I am sitting in with the "Citizens For a Better Brampton." They initially have tried to make a City of Brampton procurement process "transparent and accountable" but have not [yet] succeeded. Part of their process is trying to get information through FOI about the city of Bramptons (new tye of) procurement process, and esimated building costs. The City chose, "Dominus" a private builder to expand city hall. What they now may try is lobbying in political circles to try to get their requested information sooner (when it counts) rather than years down the road.

    I think the best way to deal with "dirt" is to make it very public, perhaps with a press release? Or you could spread it around, say to the Toronto Taxpayers Alliance and other similiar organizations.

    Thanks for this post. Ted Harlson (Army of One)