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

Act current to 2021-11-17 and last amended on 2021-08-12. Previous Versions

PART 1Access to Government Records (continued)

Office of the Information Commissioner

Information Commissioner

Marginal note:Appointment

  •  (1) The Governor in Council shall, by commission under the Great Seal, appoint an Information Commissioner after consultation with the leader of every recognized party in the Senate and House of Commons and approval of the appointment by resolution of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:Tenure

    (2) Subject to this section, the Information Commissioner holds office during good behaviour for a term of seven years, but may be removed for cause by the Governor in Council at any time on address of the Senate and House of Commons.

  • Marginal note:Further terms

    (3) The Information Commissioner, on the expiration of a first or any subsequent term of office, is eligible to be re-appointed for a further term not exceeding seven years.

  • Marginal note:Interim appointment

    (4) In the event of the absence or incapacity of the Information Commissioner, or if that office is vacant, the Governor in Council may appoint any qualified person to hold that office in the interim for a term not exceeding six months, and that person shall, while holding office, be paid the salary or other remuneration and expenses that may be fixed by the Governor in Council.

  • R.S., 1985, c. A-1, s. 54
  • 2006, c. 9, s. 109

Marginal note:Rank, powers and duties generally

  •  (1) The Information Commissioner shall rank as and have all the powers of a deputy head of a department, shall engage exclusively in the duties of the office of Information Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament and shall not hold any other office under Her Majesty for reward or engage in any other employment for reward.

  • Marginal note:Salary and expenses

    (2) The Information Commissioner shall be paid a salary equal to the salary of a judge of the Federal Court, other than the Chief Justice of that Court, and is entitled to be paid reasonable travel and living expenses incurred in the performance of duties under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament.

  • Marginal note:Pension benefits

    (3) The provisions of the Public Service Superannuation Act, other than those relating to tenure of office, apply to the Information Commissioner, except that a person appointed as Information Commissioner from outside the public service, as defined in the Public Service Superannuation Act, may, by notice in writing given to the President of the Treasury Board not more than sixty days after the date of appointment, elect to participate in the pension plan provided in the Diplomatic Service (Special) Superannuation Act, in which case the provisions of that Act, other than those relating to tenure of office, apply to the Information Commissioner from the date of appointment and the provisions of the Public Service Superannuation Act do not apply.

  • Marginal note:Other benefits

    (4) The Information Commissioner is deemed to be employed in the federal public administration for the purposes of the Government Employees Compensation Act and any regulations made under section 9 of the Aeronautics Act.

  • R.S., 1985, c. A-1, s. 55
  • 2002, c. 8, s. 113
  • 2003, c. 22, ss. 224(E), 225(E)
  • 2019, c. 18, s. 40

Assistant Information Commissioner

Marginal note:Appointment of Assistant Information Commissioner

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Information Commissioner, appoint one or more Assistant Information Commissioners.

  • Marginal note:Tenure of office and removal of Assistant Information Commissioner

    (2) Subject to this section, an Assistant Information Commissioner holds office during good behaviour for a term not exceeding five years.

  • Marginal note:Further terms

    (3) An Assistant Information Commissioner, on the expiration of a first or any subsequent term of office, is eligible to be re-appointed for a further term not exceeding five years.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. I “56”

Marginal note:Duties generally

  •  (1) An Assistant Information Commissioner shall engage exclusively in such duties or functions of the office of the Information Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament as are delegated by the Information Commissioner to that Assistant Information Commissioner and shall not hold any other office under Her Majesty for reward or engage in any other employment for reward.

  • Marginal note:Salary and expenses

    (2) An Assistant Information Commissioner is entitled to be paid a salary to be fixed by the Governor in Council and such travel and living expenses incurred in the performance of duties under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament as the Information Commissioner considers reasonable.

  • Marginal note:Pension benefits

    (3) The provisions of the Public Service Superannuation Act, other than those relating to tenure of office, apply to an Assistant Information Commissioner.

  • Marginal note:Other benefits

    (4) An Assistant Information Commissioner is deemed to be employed in the federal public administration for the purposes of the Government Employees Compensation Act and any regulations made under section 9 of the Aeronautics Act.

Staff

Marginal note:Staff of the Information Commissioner

  •  (1) Such officers and employees as are necessary to enable the Information Commissioner to perform the duties and functions of the Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament shall be appointed in accordance with the Public Service Employment Act.

  • Marginal note:Technical assistance

    (2) The Information Commissioner may engage on a temporary basis the services of persons having technical or specialized knowledge of any matter relating to the work of the Commissioner to advise and assist the Commissioner in the performance of the duties and functions of the Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament and, with the approval of the Treasury Board, may fix and pay the remuneration and expenses of those persons.

Delegation

Marginal note:Delegation by Information Commissioner

  •  (1) Subject to subsection (2), the Information Commissioner may authorize any person to exercise or perform, subject to such restrictions or limitations as the Commissioner may specify, any of the powers, duties or functions of the Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament except

    • (a) in any case other than a delegation to an Assistant Information Commissioner, the power to delegate under this section; and

    • (b) in any case, the powers, duties or functions set out in sections 36.1, 38 and 39.

  • Marginal note:Investigations relating to international affairs and defence

    (2) The Information Commissioner or an Assistant Information Commissioner may not delegate the investigation of a complaint resulting from a refusal by the head of a government institution to disclose all or part of a record under paragraph 13(1)(a) or (b) or section 15 except to one of eight officers or employees — or one of any greater number of officers or employees fixed by the designated Minister — specifically designated by the Commissioner for the purpose of conducting those investigations.

  • Marginal note:Delegation by Assistant Information Commissioner

    (3) An Assistant Information Commissioner may authorize any person to exercise or perform, subject to such restrictions or limitations as the Assistant Information Commissioner may specify, any of the powers, duties or functions of the Information Commissioner under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament that the Assistant Information Commissioner is authorized by the Information Commissioner to exercise or perform.

General

Marginal note:Principal office

 The principal office of the Information Commissioner shall be in the National Capital Region described in the schedule to the National Capital Act.

  • 1980-81-82-83, c. 111, Sch. I “60”

Marginal note:Security requirements

 The Information Commissioner and every person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner who receives or obtains information relating to any investigation under this Part or under any other Act of Parliament shall, with respect to access to and the use of that information, satisfy any security requirements applicable to, and take any oath of secrecy required to be taken by, persons who normally have access to and use of that information.

Marginal note:Confidentiality

 Subject to this Part, the Information Commissioner and every person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner shall not disclose any information that comes to their knowledge in the performance of their duties and functions under this Part.

Marginal note:Disclosure authorized

  •  (1) The Information Commissioner may disclose or may authorize any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner to disclose information

    • (a) that, in the opinion of the Commissioner, is necessary to

      • (i) carry out an investigation under this Part, or

      • (ii) establish the grounds for findings, recommendations and orders set out in any report under this Part; or

    • (b) in the course of a prosecution for an offence under this Part, a prosecution for an offence under section 131 of the Criminal Code (perjury) in respect of a statement made under this Part, a review before the Court under this Part or an appeal therefrom.

  • Marginal note:Disclosure of offence authorized

    (2) The Information Commissioner may disclose to the Attorney General of Canada information relating to the commission of an offence against a law of Canada or a province by a director, an officer or an employee of a government institution if, in the Commissioner’s opinion, there is evidence of such an offence.

Marginal note:Information not to be disclosed

 In carrying out an investigation under this Part and in any report published under subsection 37(3.1) or made to Parliament under section 38 or 39, the Information Commissioner and any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Information Commissioner shall take every reasonable precaution to avoid the disclosure of, and shall not disclose,

  • (a) any information or other material 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 Part; or

  • (b) any information as to whether a record exists where the head of a government institution, in refusing to give access to the record under this Part, does not indicate whether it exists.

Marginal note:No summons

 The Information Commissioner or any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner is not a competent or compellable witness, in respect of any matter coming to the knowledge of the Commissioner or that person as a result of performing any duties or functions under this Part during an investigation, in any proceedings other than a prosecution for an offence under this Part, a prosecution for an offence under section 131 of the Criminal Code (perjury) in respect of a statement made under this Part, a review before the Court under this Part or an appeal therefrom.

Marginal note:Protection of Information Commissioner

  •  (1) No criminal or civil proceedings lie against the Information Commissioner, or against any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner, for anything done, reported or said in good faith in the course of the exercise or performance or purported exercise or performance of any power, duty or function of the Commissioner under this Part.

  • Marginal note:Libel or slander

    (2) For the purposes of any law relating to libel or slander,

    • (a) anything said, any information supplied or any document or thing produced in good faith in the course of an investigation by or on behalf of the Information Commissioner under this Part is privileged; and

    • (b) any report made in good faith by the Information Commissioner under this Part and any fair and accurate account of the report made in good faith in a newspaper or any other periodical publication or in a broadcast is privileged.

Offences

Marginal note:Obstruction

  •  (1) No person shall obstruct the Information Commissioner or any person acting on behalf or under the direction of the Commissioner in the performance of the Commissioner’s duties and functions under this Part.

  • Marginal note:Offence and punishment

    (2) Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.

Marginal note:Obstructing right of access

  •  (1) No person shall, with intent to deny a right of access under this Part,

    • (a) destroy, mutilate or alter a record;

    • (b) falsify a record or make a false record;

    • (c) conceal a record; or

    • (d) direct, propose, counsel or cause any person in any manner to do anything mentioned in any of paragraphs (a) to (c).

  • Marginal note:Offence and punishment

    (2) Every person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of

    • (a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine not exceeding $10,000, or to both; or

    • (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding $5,000, or to both.

 
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