A Government of Canada sign sits in front of a Library and Archives Canada building next to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday Nov. 25, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

A Government of Canada sign sits in front of a Library and Archives Canada building next to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday Nov. 25, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Federal review of Access to Information law to take another year amid impatience

The review, announced last June, has prompted skepticism from open-government proponents

It will likely be another year before a federal review of the government’s key transparency law is complete, fuelling the frustration of openness advocates.

Newly released terms of reference for the government study of the Access to Information Act say a report will be submitted to the Treasury Board president by Jan. 31 of next year.

The review, announced last June, has prompted skepticism from open-government proponents, who point to a pile of reports done over the years on reforming the access law.

The law, introduced in 1983, allows people who pay $5 to ask for a range of federal documents, but it has been widely criticized as antiquated and poorly managed.

“Putting the government in charge of reviewing its own secrecy and delay problems was never a good idea,” said Ken Rubin, a researcher and longtime user of the access law.

The Liberals should either present a new transparency bill before the next general election or let Parliament and the public figure out how to improve access to federal records, he said.

Cara Zwibel, director of the fundamental-freedoms program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said she is frustrated by the review because many of the issues have already been studied by bodies including the federal information commissioner and the House of Commons committee on information, privacy and ethics.

The timetable likely means that any change to the law or how it works is at least 18 months to two years away, and even that would assume the Liberals were still governing and had the same priorities, she said.

“I am disappointed that we remain in a holding pattern when it comes to advancing in this area.”

Conservative MP Luc Berthold, the party’s Treasury Board critic, called it another example of the government failing to take transparency seriously.

“It’s irresponsible for the Trudeau Liberals to wait another year to fix the issues in Canada’s information system,” he said. “The time to act is now.”

The terms of reference say the review will focus on the legislative framework, opportunities to improve proactive publication to make information openly available and assessing processes to improve service and reduce delays.

“The review will seek to broaden understanding of the Access to Information Act, its important role in our democracy and the values and principles it balances.”

Details about consultations and procedures for making written submissions will be posted on the review’s website.

The government says the resulting report, to be tabled in Parliament, will include a summary of feedback received during the review and provide recommendations to improve access to information for Canadians.

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating Mackenzie Courchene, a Langford teenager.
MISSING: Mackenzie Courchene last seen in Langford on March 2

West Shore RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating the Langford teenager

Rendering of the proposed Esquimalt public safety building. (Courtesy Township of Esquimalt)
Esquimalt blazes new trail toward modern public safety building

Township using alternative approval process for first time to gauge public support for proposal

Landmarks such as Howard the giant gnome at Galey's Farm in Saanich make a stunning backdrop for celebratory dance in the Greater Victoria Festival Society trailer for its coming Dance Victoria campaign. (Screeshot/Greater Victoria Festival Society)
Residents’ videos help campaign Dance Across Victoria

Celebratory dance clips to be compiled into Greater Victoria Festival Society video

Reynolds Secondary School’s spring musical Freaky Friday features Grace Fouracre as teen Ellie Blake (left) who swaps bodies with her overworked mother, Katherine, played by Nadia Lurie. (Photo courtesy Reynolds Secondary School)
Saanich high school goes virtual with Freaky Friday musical

Reynolds Secondary theatre program to livestream performances March 9-12

Saanich Fire Department. Black Press Media File Photo
Fire displaces three Saanich families from two homes

Saanich firefighters found the fire had spread to a neighbouring home upon arriving

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

The Port Alice pulp mill has been dormant since 2015. (North Island Gazette file photo)
Parts recycled, life returning to inlet as as old Port Alice mill decommissioned

Bankruptcy company oversees de-risking the site, water treatment and environmental monitoring

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

(Black Press Media files)
Medicine gardens help Victoria’s Indigenous kids in care stay culturally connected

Traditional plants brought to the homes of Indigenous kids amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Most Read