Who we are and what we do
The Information Commissioner of Canada is appointed under the Access to Information Act, Canada’s freedom of information legislation. Canada’s current Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, began her seven-year term on June 30, 2010, after serving one year as Interim Commissioner.
The Commissioner reviews complaints made by requesters who believe that federal institutions have not respected their rights under the Act. The Commissioner is supported in her work by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), an independent public body set up in 1983 under the Access to Information Act.
The OIC conducts efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. We also bring cases to the Federal Court to clarify the law.
The Commissioner also promotes access to information in Canada through ongoing dialogue with Parliament, institutions and Canadians, and through initiatives such as Right to Know Week.
The three pillars of our 2011–2014 strategic plan guide our work:
- Provide leadership and expertise to reverse the declining trends in timeliness and disclosure of public sector information, in order to develop a leading access to information regime.
- Deliver exemplary service to Canadians by conducting efficient, fair and confidential investigations and effectively address issues of non-compliance with the legislation.
- Create an exceptional workplace.
Defend and protect the public’s right of access to public sector information by conducting efficient, fair and confidential investigations, by providing expert advice to Parliament, and by advocating transparency to ensure government accountability and citizens’ participation in democracy.
Canadians benefit from a leading access to information regime that values public sector information as a national resource, that is recognized for its state-of-the-art legislative framework, and that upholds information rights to ensure government transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.
Excellence: Serve with competence, efficiency and diligence
Leadership: Champion efforts to modernize access to information
Integrity: Act with reliability, impartiality and honesty
Respect: Demonstrate courtesy, fairness and collaboration
The OIC is funded through annual appropriations from Parliament. Three quarters of our budget is allocated to salaries. As of March 31, 2013, we counted a workforce of 89 full-time equivalents.
The OIC’s organizational structure is shown in the diagram below.
This organizational chart shows the titles of the three senior officials at the Office of the Information Commissioner who report to the Information Commissioner: General Counsel and Director, Legal Services; Assistant Commissioner, Complaints Resolution and Compliance; and Director General, Corporate Services. Each title is enclosed in a box and these are displayed in a row below the box for the Information Commissioner above. The boxes are connected by single lines.
Legal Services represents the Commissioner in court and provides legal advice on investigations, and legislative and administrative matters. It closely monitors the range of cases having potential litigation ramifications. It also provides investigators with reference tools on the evolving technicalities of the case law.
The Complaints Resolution and Compliance Branch investigates complaints about the processing of access requests, conducts dispute resolution activities and makes formal recommendations to institutions, as required.
Corporate Services provides strategic corporate leadership in the areas of human resources and financial management, communications, internal audit, and information management and technology. It conducts our relations with, among others, Parliament, governments and the media. It also manages our access to information and privacy function.
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