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Access to Information Act 1983 or Information Act is a Canadian act providing the right of access to information under the control of a government institution is within the accordance of the principles that government information should be available to the public, but with necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific. Decisions on the disclosure of any government information should always be reviewed independently of government.

From 1989 to 2008, requests filed under this act were catalogued in the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System.

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References


Access to Information Act
File:Parliament-Ottawa.jpg
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.[1] 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.[2] 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.

Proposed changes

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 April 2005, the Justice Minister Irwin Cotler introduced a discussion paper entitled A Comprehensive Framework for Access to Information Reform.[3]

On 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: [www3.telus.net/index100/foi Fallen Behind: Canada’s Access to Information Act in the World Context].

See also

References

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