Access to Information Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. A-1)

Act current to 2016-11-21 and last amended on 2016-04-05. Previous Versions

Access to Information Act

R.S.C., 1985, c. A-1

An Act to extend the present laws of Canada that provide access to information under the control of the Government of Canada

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Access to Information Act.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. I “1”.

Purpose of Act

Marginal note:Purpose
  •  (1) The purpose of this Act is to extend the present laws of Canada to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution in accordance with the principles that government information should be available to the public, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

  • Marginal note:Complementary procedures

    (2) This Act is intended to complement and not replace existing procedures for access to government information and is not intended to limit in any way access to the type of government information that is normally available to the general public.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. I “2”;
  • 1984, c. 40, s. 79(F).

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

 In this Act,

alternative format

support de substitution

alternative format, with respect to a record, means a format that allows a person with a sensory disability to read or listen to that record; (support de substitution)

Court

Cour

Court means the Federal Court; (Cour)

designated Minister

ministre désigné

designated Minister means a person who is designated as the Minister under subsection 3.2(1); (ministre désigné)

foreign state

État étranger

foreign state means any state other than Canada; (État étranger)

government institution

institution fédérale

government institution means

  • (a) any department or ministry of state of the Government of Canada, or any body or office, listed in Schedule I, and

  • (b) any parent Crown corporation, and any wholly-owned subsidiary of such a corporation, within the meaning of section 83 of the Financial Administration Act; (institution fédérale)

head

responsable d’institution fédérale

head, in respect of a government institution, means

  • (a) in the case of a department or ministry of state, the member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada who presides over the department or ministry, or

  • (b) in any other case, either the person designated under subsection 3.2(2) to be the head of the institution for the purposes of this Act or, if no such person is designated, the chief executive officer of the institution, whatever their title; (responsable d’institution fédérale)

Information Commissioner

Commissaire à l’information

Information Commissioner means the Commissioner appointed under section 54; (Commissaire à l’information)

record

document

record means any documentary material, regardless of medium or form; (document)

sensory disability

déficience sensorielle

sensory disability means a disability that relates to sight or hearing; (déficience sensorielle)

third party

tiers

third party, in respect of a request for access to a record under this Act, means any person, group of persons or organization other than the person that made the request or a government institution. (tiers)

  • R.S., 1985, c. A-1, s. 3;
  • 1992, c. 21, s. 1;
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 183;
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 141.
Marginal note:For greater certainty
  •  (1) For greater certainty, any provision of this Act that applies to a government institution that is a parent Crown corporation applies to any of its wholly-owned subsidiaries within the meaning of section 83 of the Financial Administration Act.

  • Marginal note:For greater certainty

    (2) For greater certainty, the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board are parent Crown corporations for the purposes of this Act.

  • 2006, c. 9, s. 142.
Marginal note:For greater certainty

 For greater certainty, for the purposes of this Act, information that relates to the general administration of a government institution includes information that relates to expenses paid by the institution for travel, including lodging, and hospitality.

  • 2006, c. 9, s. 142.

Designation

Marginal note:Power to designate Minister
  •  (1) The Governor in Council may designate a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada to be the Minister for the purposes of any provision of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Power to designate head

    (2) The Governor in Council may, by order, designate a person to be the head of a government institution, other than a department or ministry of state, for the purposes of this Act.

  • 2006, c. 9, s. 142.

Access to Government Records

Right of Access

Marginal note:Right to access to records
  •  (1) Subject to this Act, but notwithstanding any other Act of Parliament, every person who is

    has a right to and shall, on request, be given access to any record under the control of a government institution.

  • Marginal note:Extension of right by order

    (2) The Governor in Council may, by order, extend the right to be given access to records under subsection (1) to include persons not referred to in that subsection and may set such conditions as the Governor in Council deems appropriate.

  • Marginal note:Responsibility of government institutions

    (2.1) The head of a government institution shall, without regard to the identity of a person making a request for access to a record under the control of the institution, make every reasonable effort to assist the person in connection with the request, respond to the request accurately and completely and, subject to the regulations, provide timely access to the record in the format requested.

  • Marginal note:Records produced from machine readable records

    (3) For the purposes of this Act, any record requested under this Act that does not exist but can, subject to such limitations as may be prescribed by regulation, be produced from a machine readable record under the control of a government institution using computer hardware and software and technical expertise normally used by the government institution shall be deemed to be a record under the control of the government institution.

  • R.S., 1985, c. A-1, s. 4;
  • 1992, c. 1, s. 144(F);
  • 2001, c. 27, s. 202;
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 143.

Information about Government Institutions

Marginal note:Publication on government institutions
  •  (1) The designated Minister shall cause to be published, on a periodic basis not less frequently than once each year, a publication containing

    • (a) a description of the organization and responsibilities of each government institution, including details on the programs and functions of each division or branch of each government institution;

    • (b) a description of all classes of records under the control of each government institution in sufficient detail to facilitate the exercise of the right of access under this Act;

    • (c) a description of all manuals used by employees of each government institution in administering or carrying out any of the programs or activities of the government institution; and

    • (d) the title and address of the appropriate officer for each government institution to whom requests for access to records under this Act should be sent.

  • Marginal note:Bulletin

    (2) The designated Minister shall cause to be published, at least twice each year, a bulletin to bring the material contained in the publication published under subsection (1) up to date and to provide to the public other useful information relating to the operation of this Act.

  • Marginal note:Descriptions in publication and bulletins

    (3) Any description that is required to be included in the publication or bulletins published under subsection (1) or (2) may be formulated in such a manner that the description does not itself constitute information on the basis of which the head of a government institution would be authorized to refuse to disclose a part of a record requested under this Act.

  • Marginal note:Publication and bulletin to be made available

    (4) The designated Minister shall cause the publication referred to in subsection (1) and the bulletin referred to in subsection (2) to be made available throughout Canada in conformity with the principle that every person is entitled to reasonable access thereto.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. I “5”.
 
Date modified: