2018-2019 Raison d’être, mandate and role

Raison d’être

The Information Commissioner of Canada reports directly to the House of Commons and the Senate. The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada ensures that the rights conferred by the Access to Information Act are respected, which ultimately enhances transparency and accountability across the federal government.

Mandate and role

The OIC is an independent public body created in 1983 under the Access to Information Act. The primary responsibility of the organization is to conduct efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. The OIC strives to maximize compliance with the Act, while fostering disclosure of public sector information using the full range of tools, activities and powers at the Commissioner’s disposal.

The OIC uses a variety of dispute prevention and resolution approaches to resolve complaints. In doing so, the OIC gives complainants, heads of institutions and all third parties affected by complaints a reasonable opportunity to make representations. The OIC encourages institutions to disclose information and to respect Canadians’ rights to receive information, in the name of transparency and accountability. It brings cases to the Federal Court to ensure the Act is properly applied and interpreted.

The OIC also supports the Information Commissioner in her advisory role to Parliament and parliamentary committees on all matters pertaining to access to information. The OIC actively makes the case for greater freedom of information in Canada through targeted initiatives such as Right to Know Week and ongoing dialogue with Canadians, Parliament and federal institutions.

The Commissioner is responsible for implementing any legislative changes to the Act, such as those contained in Bill C-58.

For more information on the OIC’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister of Justice’s mandate letter.

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