Canada scores poorly on global right to information rating

Friday, September 30, 2011

On International Right to Know Day, September 28, the Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe published the world’s first Global Right to Information Rating.

The RTI rankings considered a number of factors when assessing the strength of a country’s legal framework to guarantee the right to information.

Out of 89 countries with Right to Information laws, Canada tied with Estonia and Montenegro for 40th, scoring only marginally above average. With a total score of 85 out of a possible 150 points, Canada’s performance was measured in the following categories:

  • Right of Access (3/6)
  • Scope (13/30)
  • Requesting Procedures (15/30)
  • Exceptions and Refusals (11/30)
  • Appeals (22/30)
  • Sanctions and Protections (6/8)
  • Promotional Measures (15/16)

With a particularly low score in the categories of Scope, and Exceptions and Refusals, it is clear that although some government information is openly available to Canadians, a significant amount is not.

One of the factors that reduced Canada’s score is that our Access to Information Act has not been updated since it was created, in 1989.

Countries that scored higher than Canada include India, Mexico, Indonesia, South Africa, Kosovo, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and the United States.

The RTI Rating clearly states that it was designed to assess only the legal frameworks for the countries examined. However, when analyzed in conjunction with Canada’s poor performance in the Freedom of Information Audit published by Newspapers Canada, it is clear to see that there are still a number of problems that need to be addressed.

Canada prides itself on being a free and democratic society. However, access to information is one of the cornerstones of democracy, and Canada has considerable room for improvement in this regard.

For more information on the methodology used by the RTI Rankings, or to access the full report with information on all 89 countries assessed, please visit their website at

Additionally, you can read Canada’s Access to Information Act here.