2023–24 Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

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 Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) was created in 1983 under the Access to Information Act to support the work of the Information Commissioner. The OIC’s primary responsibility is to conduct efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. Investigators conduct these enquiries in private, giving complainants and institutions opportunities to present their positions on the matters under investigation.

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. These include negotiating with complainants and institutions, carrying out formal investigations, and making recommendations to institutions related to the processing of access requests. The Commissioner may also issue orders related to a record, including requiring institutions to disclose information.

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

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