How the OIC can help
The Access to Information Act gives a right to access information under the control of government institutions. The Act also provides a right to complain to the Information Commissioner about matters related to an access request made under the Act, such as the following:
- the institution’s response to the request
- the fact that the institution did not respond to the request
- how an institution treated the request.
Individuals may also complain about other matters related to requesting and accessing records under Part 1 of the Act, even if they did not make an access request.
By email or mail
Send your complaint here:
30 Victoria Street, 7th Floor
Gatineau QC K1A 1H3
To request accommodation for a need related to one of the prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act, or if you have questions about accommodation, first review Policy: accommodation when receiving services from the Office of the Information Commissioner and then contact the OIC accordingly.
What the OIC does...
- Investigate complaints from requesters who believe federal institutions did not respect their rights under the Access to Information Act
- Help resolve disagreements between requesters and institutions
- Help ensure the Access to Information Act is respected
- Participate in litigation related to the Access to Information Act
- Encourage institutions to make information more easily available to the public to keep the federal government accountable to Canadians
- Promote awareness of the importance of open and transparent government
What the OIC does not do...
- Release records that are the subject of a complaint
- Hold records on behalf of the Government of Canada or any other party
- Impose penalties such as fines on institutions for not complying with the Access to Information Act
- Award damages to complainants
- Investigate complaints about matters not covered by the Access to Information Act
What the OIC Registry does
The OIC Registry receives and determines whether complaints are admissible—that is, whether they include all the necessary details, were submitted by the 60-day deadline (see Timeframe for filing a complaint), are not premature and fall within the Commissioner’s mandate.
Registry staff also inform institutions that the Information Commissioner intends to investigate complaints. The Registry also gathers documents and information and communicates with you, institutions and other parties to complaints, as needed, including sending out a variety of correspondence and reports.
More information: How the OIC processes and investigates complaints
Prior to your complaint being assigned to an investigator, Registry staff can answer your questions about submitting a complaint and the investigation process, about how to complete the complaint form, and where to send your documents and in what format.
Once your complaint is assigned, the investigator will communicate with you and provide their contact information. After this point, please direct any questions or concerns to the investigator.
Individuals seeking accommodations for a disability or for needs related to one of the grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Human Rights Act should also contact the Registry.
What the OIC Registry does not do
- Provide you with advice on whether you should submit a complaint
- Advise you on the status of your complaint once the Registry has informed the institution of the Commissioner’s intention to investigate your complaint
- Investigate your complaint
- Provide you with the records you requested from the institution
- Inform you of the likely outcome of your complaint
- Provide you with legal advice or recommend a lawyer
- Provide you with advice on what you should do after you receive a final report, notice or decision from the OIC, including when the Registry determines your complaint is inadmissible or when the Commissioner decides to refuse or cease to investigate your complaint
- Provide guidance on applying for a review by the Federal Court
Contact the OIC Registry: 1-800-267-0441 or Greffe-Registry@oic-ci.gc.ca
Types of complaints
Complaints contain various types of allegations, many of which are associated with an access request submitted to an institution covered by the Act. Below are examples of allegations that would fall within the Information Commissioner’s mandate, as long as complainants had submitted them by the 60-day deadline (see Timeframe for filing a complaint).
No response to your access request
- You have not received a response to a request you submitted more than 30 days ago.
- The institution extended the response period, but that period has ended and you have not received a response to your request.
Response to your access request
- The institution told you that some or all of the records you requested do not exist or that the institution could not provide them to you because they are not under its control.
- The institution refused, under a specific provision(s) of Part 1 of the Access to Information Act, to provide access to some or all of the records you requested.
- The institution did not perform a reasonable search for the records you requested and/or you believe that additional records exist.
- The institution did not give you access to the records in the official language or alternative format you requested.
The institution extended the response period
- The institution did not extend the response period within the first 30 days after receiving your access request.
- The institution did not show that the extension of time was for one of the reasons given in the Access to Information Act (section 9).
- The length of the extension is unreasonable.
- Transfers: The institution should not have transferred your access request to another institution or it took longer than 15 days after receiving your access request to transfer it.
- Other: Any other matter related to requesting or obtaining access to records under Part 1 of the Access to Information Act.