About the legislation

The Access to Information Act, which took effect on July 1, 1983, provides a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution. Canada was one of the first countries in the world to offer such protection to its citizens.

The Act reflects three principles: that government information should be available to the public; that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific; and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

The Supreme Court of Canada has described the Act as a pillar of our democracy. In 1997, Justice Gérard Vincent La Forest said, on behalf of the entire Supreme Court: “The overarching purpose of access to information legislation is to facilitate democracy by helping to ensure that citizens have the information required to participate meaningfully in the democratic process and that politicians and bureaucrats remain accountable to the citizenry."Footnote 1

Please consult the official version of the Access to Information Act on the Justice Canada website.


Footnote 1

Dagg v. Canada (Minister of Finance), [1997] 2 S.C.R. 403, par. 61

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