Part 3: Reform To Canadian Access to Information
Co-authored by Gianrico DePasquale and Roseanna Dat.
In Part 1, we discussed access to information requests in Canada and in Part 2, we discussed freedom of information requests in the United States.
As a follow up to Part 1, we report that the Government of Canada is in the process of amending the Access to Information Act and is considering potential reform which may have an impact on businesses. In its Review of the Access to Information Act, the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics recommended, among other things, that the Act should apply to institutions that are publicly funded by the Government of Canada. There are three potential options suggested to determine whether an institution would be subject to the Act under the proposed reform.
The Information Commissioner of Canada (Commissioner) has proposed the following three options to determine whether an institution that is funded by the Government of Canada should be subject to the Act under the proposed reform:
- if the institution receives a loan, grant or contribution of $5 million or more;
- if the source of 50% of the institution’s funding originates (directly or indirectly) from the Government of Canada, and
- if the institution’s income from the federal government reaches a certain percentage or an absolute threshold higher than $5 million of public funding.
According to the Commissioner, the criteria in option A is proposed to include expenditures, grants and contributions equal to or in excess of $5 million which are voted on by Parliament as separate line items in the Federal budget. The criteria in option B is proposed as it is the method used in both Denmark and Serbia. The criteria in option C is proposed as it is a middle ground or saving grace between options A and B.