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

Crews respond to a structure fire in the 6000 block of Renton Road in Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Workshop destroyed in Cherry Creek fire

Crews stayed on scene overnight fighting ‘stubborn’ blaze

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Tax error in 2020 means lower rate for residents in 2021

Alberni’s taxation for regional library accidently written down twice

Part of a new housing development proposal for the former Alberni District Secondary School site. (SCREENSHOT)
Housing gap widens in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island city suffers from ‘missing middle’ to housing density

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires Vancouver Island wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Most Read