2015 Chapter 8: Mandatory periodic review of the Act
The Access to Information Act has not been comprehensively updated since its enactment over 30 years ago. The Act has fallen behind modern standards. The result is that Canadians’ information rights are not adequately protected.
Periodic, comprehensive reviews by either a legislative committee or commission are built into the access laws of several provinces, with five years being the most common time frame.Footnote 1
The Act needs to be strengthened to meet the information realities of the 21st century and ensure that Canadians benefit from the modern, effective law they expect and deserve. Mandatory, periodic parliamentary review of the Act, particularly when coupled with the requirement to table a report in Parliament within a year of undertaking the review, would ensure the Act remains up to date and provide a scheduled opportunity to:
- quickly fill gaps in legislative coverage identified in the Commissioner’s orders;
- harmonize the Act with progressive national and international standards; and
- ensure Canada is a global leader in protecting the right of access and in being accountable to its citizens.
The Information Commissioner recommends a mandatory parliamentary review of the Act every five years, with a report tabled in Parliament.
- Footnote 1
The laws of B.C., Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador all contain such a provision. Federal commissioners have recommended including such a provision in the Act on a number of occasions. See Office of the Information Commissioner. Open Government Act. October 25, 2005, and Office of the Information Commissioner. Strengthening the Access to Information Act to Meet Today's Imperatives. March 9, 2009.