Statement from the Office of the Information Commissioner on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

Gatineau, Quebec, March 20, 2020 – The Office of the Information Commissioner is following the recommendations of public health officials and has taken measures to keep its employees safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means we are currently operating under alternative work arrangements until further notice.

Under these exceptional circumstances, complainants can expect some delays in responding to complaints and conducting our investigations. The OIC remains focused on upholding the requirements of the Access to Information Act and will continue to exercise its mandate, accepting and processing all complaints.

We also understand that the current situation creates many challenges for government institutions. While the OIC cannot extend statutory deadlines under the Act, we are committed to being as flexible as reasonably possible with our investigation timelines. The OIC is asking institutions to take all reasonable measures to limit the impact on individuals’ right of access to information, and to advise access requesters of their reduced capacity to process access requests.

As many federal public servants are teleworking, institutions are reminded that they must continue to properly document their decisions as well as their decision-making processes in accordance with the Policy on Information Management. We also encourage you to read the OIC’s 9 tips for email management.

Thank you for your cooperation as we all deal with difficult circumstances.

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