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News Release: Government of Canada improves Access to Information

May 5, 2016

Ottawa – Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Today, President of the Treasury Board Scott Brison issued an Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (the Directive) that delivers on key commitments to make government more open and transparent.

The Directive sends a strong message across federal institutions that government information belongs to the people it serves and should be open by default. It also directs federal officials to:

  • Waive all Access to Information fees apart from the $5 filing fee; and
  • Release information in user-friendly formats (e.g. spreadsheets), whenever possible.

The Directive emphasizes that government information should be available to the public, except in very limited and specific situations when it must be protected for reasons such as privacy, confidentiality, and security.

This is another step the Government is taking to revitalize and strengthen Access to Information. The current public consultations and parliamentary study will inform the Government’s modernization of the Access to Information system. Next, the Government will table legislation to implement the rest of its commitments as outlined in the President of the Treasury Board’s mandate letter. The Act will be extended to apply appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Minister’s offices; it will give the Information Commissioner the power to order the release of documents; and, it will require a full legislative review every five years.

Quick facts

  • Budget 2016 included the following measures on open government:
    • $12.9 million over five years to help the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) enhance Canadians’ access to government information, including their own personal information.
    • $11.5 million over five years to expand open data and open dialogue initiatives.
  • The Interim Directive applies to approximately 240 federal institutions and will be in place until the Access to Information Act goes through a full legislative review.
  • Information about the online consultation is posted on the Access to Information consultation site. Anyone interested in taking part can also tweet using the hashtag #RevitalizeATI.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada is taking another step forward on openness and transparency. This Directive delivers on key platform commitments and makes much-needed improvements to Access to Information immediately, by making it easier for Canadians to access government information in formats they can use.”

Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board

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