A strong access to information system is vital to maintaining a healthy democracy. Yet Canada's system is in shambles, plagued by long delays and a huge list of exceptions and exclusions to the right of access.
The Liberal government promised big changes to Canada's access to information system, then broke a key promise to open up the Offices of the Prime Minister and Ministers to public requests. The current system is failing Canadians and the government's reform bill, Bill C-58, won't fix it.
Our country deserves an open and accountable government.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Demand that Members of Parliament fight for your right to access government information. Tell the government to withdraw Bill C-58 and give Canadians a bill that addresses seriously the broken access to information system.
- Sign the petition: call on Minister Scott Brison to scrap Bill C-58 and write a new bill that respects the public's right to know!
- Share on social media: tweet using #ATIreform and #RightToKnow.
- Donate: support the #ATIreform campaign and CJFE’s important work.
DEMAND ATI REFORM
Read the joint statement to the President of the Treasury Board, Scott Brison, from a global coalition of civil society organizations.
We call for the government's proposed reform Bill C-58 to be scrapped, and for the government to write a bill that takes seriously the crisis undermining our right to know. The resulting bill must, at bare minimum, include the following changes:
Deliver on the government's broken promise to expand the scope of the Act to cover the Offices of the Prime Minister and Ministers.
Introduce a formal duty to document for public officials, and require them to preserve records of their decision making.
Limiting the discretion of public authorities to extend the time limits for responding to requests.
Narrow exceptions and exclusions to the right of access and them subject to a test of harm and a public interest override.
Give the Information Commissioner binding, enforceable order powers over all complaints regarding requests for information. This was one of the few significant reforms included in Bill C-58, and it should be retained.
Reject dangerous new measures that would allow the government the right to ignore information requests that they deem to be "frivolous or vexatious."
WHY IT MATTERS
The public has the right to obtain the information they need to participate meaningfully in the democratic process, while also holding Canada’s public officials and Members of Parliament accountable. The current system fails to meet these basic standards, and Bill C-58 won’t fix it.
- Canada's access to information law ranks 49th out of 111 countries that have laws. That's 13 places below Russia.
- A study of 28,000 access to information requests revealed that 57% of all data released was censored, and 18% could not be found at all.
- In some cases, responses to access to information requests have been delayed more than a thousand days. The legal time limit is 30 days.
- Civil Society Organizations Call for Government's Access to Information Bill to Be Scrapped
- Broken Promises Cripple Trudeau's Access to Information Reform Bill
- CJFE's Free Expression Report Card 2016-17
- The Government Must Act Now to Fix Our Badly Broken ATI System
- Access Government Information Is Supposed to Be Simple and Timely. It Is Neither.
- 8 lessons on the state of our right to know in Canada
Learn more about access to information in Canada
Journalists, public interest researchers and other professionals share their stories about Canada's Access to Information system.
- The perils and paradoxes of FOI in Canada: Ken Rubin writes about 3 decades of digging up information on misspending, health and safety gaps, scandals and more.
- #ATIreform: Navigating freedom of information: CBC News' David McKie and Global News' Anna Mehler Paperny share their challenges and tips on navigating Canada's Access to Information.
#ATIreform: Freedom of Information in Hamilton misses the mark: Access to information in Canada isn't only in need of improvement at the federal level. Independent journalist Joey Coleman explores the City of Hamilton's troubling record on freedom of information.
Right to Information request reveals important ‘daycare deficiencies’: Madison Farkas lays out the refusals and delays that plagued one reporter's search for daycare inspection reports. They would eventually reveal troubling deficiencies in New Brunswick's daycare system.
- Why access to information is crucial: Four prominent Canadian journalists talk about what they go through with Canada's ATI system to get their stories told.