Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Access to Information Requests Filed with Canada Are Taking Longer - So Apply Early

Canada's Globe & Mail newspaper (on-line version - article written by Alison Auld) has reported today in an article entitled "Access Denied" that it is taking up to three times longer for requests under the Access to Information Act (Canada) to be filled.  The article reports that some preliminary notices in response to some requests indicate that the relevant government department is seeking a 240 day extension of time to fill the request.  The full article can be obtained at the following link - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080106.waccess0105/BNStory/National/home

The positive response to this article is that requesters should make their requests as early as possible.  Many taxpayers and other persons responding to decisions by various government departments seek access to the information in their files in order to complete their response to the government's decision.  Since it is now understood that it is taking longer to provide the response to the request for access to information, it should be obvious that person's needing to obtain the information in their government files should make the requests sooner rather than later. 

Also, if the information is important in order to provide a complete response to the government department, person's seeking access to the information in their government files should work with their Canadian lawyers in order to take advantage of provisions in the Access to Information Act (Canada) to minimize the delays and/or take advantage of other available options to preserve one's legal rights.

For example, if a taxpayer does not receive the documents in their tax files within a statutory objection period, he/she should communicate that additional submissions will follow. If it can be shown that the access to information request was filed early (not the day before the objection was due), the adjudicator may show some sympathy towards the taxpayer and may be able to assist in the process of obtaining the requested documentation.  In adversarial situations (such as cases filed with the Canadian courts and Tribunals), there may be opportunities to obtain the documents through the documentary production or discover process.

However, if the access to information request relates to the Afghanistan mission of anything with an aspect of national security aspect or if a journalist wants to find out whether a Minister frequently enjoys a glass of wine with dinner, the requester will have fewer alternatives available to obtain the information.

To obtain more information about Canada's Access to Information Act, please click on the following link - http://www.canada-justice.net/en/ps/atip/index.html

For assistance in preparing an Access to Information Request, please contact Canadian legal counsel (such as Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, Michael Flavell, Geoff Kubrick or Martin Masse at Lang Michener LLP).

Leave a Reply

remember my information