Ministers and senior executives key to timely responses to access requests: Information Commissioner of Canada

Ottawa, December 6, 2012—The Information Commissioner of Canada, Suzanne Legault, today emphasized the need for ministers and senior officials at federal institutions to take a leadership role in ensuring Canadians receive timely responses to access to information requests.

“In four reports my office has issued since 2010, we have found again and again that the key to Canadians’ receiving prompt responses to access requests is the attitude and actions of senior leaders.” The Commissioner made her remarks on the occasion of the tabling in Parliament today of her latest report on access to information performance. 

The present report details how the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) transformed its access operations and received an “A” grade this year (compared to an “F” two years ago). Canada Post improved its performance only marginally—from a Red Alert to an “F”. “I attribute the CBC’s success to strong statements and actions by the president on the importance of transparency for a public organization. In contrast, much more needs to be done by the leadership at Canada Post to foster a culture of openness there.”

These results also highlight the fact that recent improvements in response times are not uniform across the federal access system. Nor will this fragile momentum be easy to maintain, particularly as the effects of the most recent round of budget cuts have yet to be fully felt.

In these circumstances, the Commissioner re-iterated her commitment to vigorous oversight of the access system. “Should I find signs of deterioration, I will not hesitate to bring my concerns to Parliament’s notice and take any appropriate action, including re-instating the report cards earlier than planned.”

The Commissioner also called once again on the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics to continue the valuable oversight role it played in the wake of previous report cards.

The complete report, Report Cards 2011–2012, is available in the Reports and Publications section of the Office of the Information Commissioner’s website: www.oic-ci.gc.ca.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Josée Villeneuve
Director, Public Affairs
Office of the Information Commissioner
Tel.: 613-947-2223
Email: josee.villeneuve@oic-ci.gc.ca