2011-2012 Who we are and what we do

The Information Commissioner is an Agent of Parliament appointed under the Access to Information Act, Canada’s freedom of information legislation. The Commissioner reviews complaints made by requesters who believe that federal institutions have not respected their rights under the Act.

The Commissioner promotes access to information in Canada, through ongoing dialogue with Parliament, institutions and Canadians, and through initiatives such as Right to Know Week.

Canada’s current Information Commissioner, Suzanne Legault, began her seven-year term on June 30, 2010, after serving one year as Interim Commissioner.

Our mission

Defend and protect the public's right of access to public sector information by conducting efficient, fair and confidential investigations, by providing expert advice to Parliament, and by advocating transparency to ensure government accountability and citizens' participation in democracy.

Our vision

Canadians benefit from a leading access to information regime that values public sector information as a national resource, that is recognized for its state-of-the-art legislative framework, and that upholds information rights to ensure government transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Our values

  • Excellence: Serve with competence, efficiency and diligence
  • Leadership: Champion efforts to modernize access to information
  • Integrity: Act with reliability, impartiality and honesty
  • Respect: Demonstrate courtesy, fairness and collaboration

—Developed with significant input from OIC employees during our strategic planning exercise in the winter of 2010–2011

The Commissioner is supported in her work by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), an independent public body set up in 1983 under the Access to Information Act to respond to complaints from the public about access to government information.

We conduct efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. We bring cases to the Federal Court to clarify important principles of law or legal interpretation.

Our work is guided by the three pillars of our 2011–2014 strategic plan:

  • Provide leadership and expertise to reverse the declining trends in timeliness and disclosure of public sector information, in order to develop a leading access to information regime.
  • Deliver exemplary service to Canadians by conducting efficient, fair and confidential investigations and effectively address issues of non-compliance with the legislation.
  • Create an exceptional workplace.

Our organization

The OIC is funded through annual appropriations from Parliament. Three quarters of our $12-million budget is allocated to salaries. As of March 31, 2012, we counted a workforce of 91 full-time equivalents.

The OIC’s organizational structure is shown in the diagram below.

The OIC’s organizational structure

Text version of this graphic

This organizational chart shows the titles of the three senior officials at the Office of the Information Commissioner who report to the Information Commissioner: General Counsel and Director, Legal Services; Assistant Commissioner, Complaints Resolution and Compliance; and Director General, Corporate Services. Each title is enclosed in a box and these are displayed in a row below the box for the Information Commissioner above. The boxes are connected by single lines.

Legal Services represents the Commissioner in court and provides legal advice on investigations, and legislative and administrative matters. It closely monitors the range of cases having potential litigation ramifications. It also provides investigators with reference tools on the evolving technicalities of the case law.

The Complaints Resolution and Compliance Branch investigates complaints about the processing of access requests, conducts dispute resolution activities and makes formal recommendations to institutions, as required. It also assesses federal institutions’ compliance with their obligations and carries out systemic investigations and analysis.

Corporate Services provides strategic corporate leadership in the areas of human resources and financial management, communications, internal audit, and information management and technology. It conducts our external relations with, among others, Parliament, governments and the media. It also manages our access to information and privacy function.

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