This theme addresses who can file an access to information request and which institutions and records are subject to the right of access.
Right of Access?
- To whom should the right of access to information be given? Should it be expanded to include all persons or continue to be restricted to Canadian citizens and permanent residents?
Scope of the Act: what institutions are subject to the Act?
This sub-category addresses the institutions that are subject to the Act and the criteria used.
- Which institutions should be subject to the right of access found in the Act?
- How should we determine whether an institution is subject to the Act? Should it be based on a functional approach (i.e. the role of the institution) or is another approach preferable (for example, based on sources of funding)?
- Should the Information Commissioner be consulted when changes are made to the list of institutions subject to the Act?
- Should the application of the Act be applicable, and to what extent, to:
- The judicial branch of governance (courts and/or court administration)?
- The legislative branch of governance (Parliament)?
- The offices of Ministers (including Secretaries of State)?
What records can be obtained through an access request?
- Is the current definition of a record sufficiently broad?
How can records be obtained?
In this section, we will examine various aspects of the process for making an access to information request to a government institution, including the fees for processing such a request, the roles and responsibilities of the institutions, the duty of an institution to provide a requester with assistance in making his or her request, and responses to frivolous or vexatious requests.
The general process
- How should access requests to institutions be made? Should they have to be in writing or could other formats including oral requests be accepted?
- Should the Act require payment of fees for:
- Making an access request;
- Processing an access request;
- Providing copies of responsive records.
- Should a distinction between electronic and non-electronic records be preserved in the provisions concerning fees?
- Should criteria for waiver of fees be included in the Act?
- Should fees be legislatively waived in certain circumstances, i.e. public interest, failure to respond on time, source of the request?
Duty to assist
- Should there be consequences when institutions that fail to meet their legislated duty to assist? If so, what form should those consequences take?
Responding to frivolous and vexatious requests
- Is there a need to establish criteria to determine if a request is frivolous or vexatious? If so, what should those criteria be? Who should have the authority to determine if a request is frivolous or vexatious? What should the role of the Information Commissioner be, if any?
Timelines for responding to requests
- Should any change be made to the current 30-day time period for responding to requests?
- Should institutions be entitled to extend that 30-day time period and, if so, on what basis? Should any changes be made to the existing provision for extending time lines?
- Should there be a maximum length of time imposed on extensions?
- Should time extensions beyond a certain length require authorization of the Commissioner?
- Should there be a mechanism to ensure that institutions meet the extended deadline? Administrative consequences, access to judicial review etc.?