Information Commissioner’s guidance

Process: Timeframe for filing a complaint

Updated November 6, 2018

Under section 31 of the Access to Information Act, requesters may file a complaint with the Information Commissioner about how an institution handled an access to information request up to 60 days after one of the following occurs:

  • the requester receives a notice under section 7 that the institution refuses to grant access to the requested records (this includes time extension notices; see section 9);
  • the requester receives some or all of the requested records; or
  • the requester becomes aware that other grounds for a complaint exist.

Requesters may also submit a delay complaint when the institution has not responded within 30 days after it received the request, and when no time extension has been claimed by the institution.

In most circumstances, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) does not accept complaints it receives after the 60-day time period has expired and notifies requesters accordingly. However, the Information Commissioner may initiate on her own behalf a complaint submitted late in exceptional circumstances, such when the matter deals with life, liberty or security of individuals, or when the results are likely to have a significant impact on Canadians.

Determining the 60-day timeframe

To determine whether a complaint was filed on time, the OIC verifies the date that the requester received the institution’s response (this includes time extension notices). It is important that institutions document when they formally respond to requests, since that is often the starting point for the 60-day time period. The OIC may also take into account proof of receipt of the response by the requester, documentation in the institution’s file confirming the delivery date of the response, or postmarks or other transmission dates on documents.