Canada marks Right to Know Week

In 2021, Right to Know Week will be celebrated during the week of September 27 to October 3. Read the Commissioner’s statement for Right to Know Week.

Origin

International Right to Know Day was first introduced in 2002 in Sofia, Bulgaria, at an international meeting of access to information advocates. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness among citizens of their right to access government information, while promoting freedom of information as essential to both democracy and good governance.

Since 2002, Right to Know Day is celebrated around the world on September 28.

In Canada, Right to Know Day extends to a week of celebrations. Follow the hashtag #RTK2021 to find out more about the activities taking place across the country.

In 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

Considering that several civil society organizations and government bodies around the world were already celebrating this special day, the United Nations General Assembly also proclaimed September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information in its resolution 74/5, which was adopted on October 15, 2019.

Right to Know Timeline

Text version

Right to know

"Government transparency is the foundation of a strong democracy and has never been more important than in time of crisis."

   Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard, February 2021

More than 125 countries have laws guaranteeing their citizens' right of access to their government information.

  • 1995: 19 countries
  • 2006: 66 countries
  • 2014: 102 countries
  • 2021: 127 countries

1766

Sweden becomes the first country in the world to introduce freedom-of-information rules.

1977

Nova Scotia becomes the first province in Canada to introduce its own access-to-information legislation.

1983

The federal Access to Information Act comes into force.

2002

International Right to Know Day is established in Bulgaria.

2006

Canada’s first Right to Know Week is celebrated.

2011

Open Government Partnership is created.

2019

The federal Access to Information Act is amended by Parliament, in particular to give the Information Commissioner order-making powers.

The United Nations General Assembly adopts a resolution proclaiming September 28 as the International Day for Universal Access to Information.

2020-2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the right of access to information–a quasi-constitutional right–is of utmost importance.

2023

This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the coming into force of the federal Access to Information Act.

The 10 Right to Know Principles

Since the introduction of International Right to Know Day, certain principles have emerged that form the core of the Right to Know movement.

  1. Access to information is a right of everyone.
  2. Access is the rule. Secrecy is the exception.
  3. The right applies to all public bodies.
  4. Making requests should be simple, speedy, and free.
  5. Officials have a duty to assist requesters.
  6. Refusals must be justified.
  7. The public interest takes precedence over secrecy.
  8. Everyone has the right to appeal an adverse decision.
  9. Public bodies should proactively publish core information.
  10. The right to know should be guaranteed by an independent body.