Timely responses require prompt processing by all parties

Complaint: Parks Canada missed the deadline to respond to a request for information about its purchase of an Ontario property.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the delay had been caused in part by the subject-matter expert, who had sent the requested records to the access office for processing one month after the response was due. The file had also lain dormant in the access office at various times.

Several dates Parks Canada proposed for responding to the request were each too far in the future, with too much time set aside for various tasks, including 11 weeks for internal approvals.

Outcome: The Information Commissioner issued a formal recommendation to respond to the request, which Parks Canada did, 10 months after the original deadline.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Timeliness is fundamental to the right of access. Receiving a response in a timely manner ensures information is still relevant and that the government can be held to account for its decisions at appropriate times.
  • In this case, both the subject-matter expert and access officials consistently took too long to complete steps in the response process.
  • In light of this complaint and others like it, the Information Commissioner launched a systemic investigation to examine Parks Canada’s approach to processing access requests.
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