On July 1, Canada’s Access to Information Act celebrated its 30th birthday; the legislation was considered groundbreaking at the time of its creation. However, recently Canada has faced criticism for its now outdated access to information policies, as evidenced by Canada’s ranking of 55th out of 93 nations in regards to government transparency, as ranked by the Centre for Law and Democracy.
Canada’s federal Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, recently released a statement outlining her goals for transforming the Act in 2013. She has long been advocating an overhaul of the Act and recently conducted an Open Dialogue with Canadians to crowdsource input and advice from the public regarding the Access to Information Act.
Major changes recommended by Legault include bringing all public institutions that spend taxpayer money under the power of the Act and to grant more power to the Office of the Information Commissioner to demand compliance with the Act by federal agencies and departments.
Says Legault, “This fall, I will present recommendations to Parliament on amending and modernizing the act to reflect the realities of 2013.
When you consider that after 30 years the Access to Information Act still does not apply to our parliamentary institutions, is it not about time that we reassert the value we place on unfettered access to information and broaden the scope of the act to all of our democratic institutions?”