Name of law: Access to Information Act

First adopted: 1983

Last modified: 2010-03

RTI Rating last updated: 2016-05


As a country that was once among the world's leaders in government openness, it is unfortunate that Canada has dropped so far down the list. Partly, this is the result of global progress, with which Canada has failed to keep pace. Canada's Access to Information Act, while cutting edge in 1983, has not been significantly updated since then, and reflects many outdated norms. Canada's lax timelines, imposition of access fees, lack of a proper public interest override, and blanket exemptions for certain political offices all contravene international standards for the right of access. Canada's antiquated approach to access to information is also the result of a lack of political will to improve the situation. Since the Access to Information Act was first passed there have been several attempts to reform and revamp it, and all have been defeated in one way or another. We hope that Canada's poor showing here will be a wake up call to the fact that global standards for implementation of the right to information have moved past what the Access to Information Act can provide, and will spur our politicians to act in order to give proper implementation to the right to information.