VANCOUVER, October 16, 2015 – One month ago, a coalition of 22 NGOs from across Canada signed a joint statement calling on the leaders of Canada’s federal parties to make concrete commitments to reform Canada’s outdated Access to Information Act.
Today, we are pleased to see the NDP and Liberal parties have included commitments in their platforms to improve the Act. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party did not see fit to even mention access to information in its platform. Green Party leader Elizabeth May sent a tweet expressing support for transparency, but the party’s platform contains only a general commitment to improving the access law.
“After decades of neglect, we need urgent action to fix this ancient legislation and improve the right to information in this country,” said Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA). “We hope whichever party forms the next government will bring the Access to Information Act in line with international standards.”
The joint statement calls on parties to commit to a comprehensive review of the Access to Information Act and to support four specific reforms:
- giving Canada’s Information Commissioner order-making power,
- expanding the scope of the Act to cover all public bodies,
- limiting the regime of exceptions, and
- creating a legal duty to document decision-making processes.
While no party committed fully to all four points, the NDP platform makes promises in all four areas while the Liberals have committed to fulfil two, and have also promised to institute regular reviews of the Act. Both the NDP and Liberals have also committed to eliminating all access fees beyond the initial $5 requesting fee.
Canada’s Access to Information Act has not been substantially improved since it was passed over thirty years ago. The RTI Rating, an internationally-recognised methodology developed by the Centre for Law and Democracy, currently ranks Canada 59th in the world on access to information, down from 51st place a few years ago.
Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
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