Directive on Access to Information Requests

Provides direction to government institutions on efficiently and consistently processing access to information requests.
Date modified: 2022-07-22

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Mandatory procedures:

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access request (demande d'accès)
Is a request for access to a record made under the Access to Information Act.
Access to information (ATI) training
All activities that serve to increase awareness about access to information, including formal training, research, discussion groups, conferences, access to information and privacy community meetings, shared learning among colleagues, on-the-job training, special projects, job shadowing, and communications activities that promote learning in the areas specified in Appendix B of this directive.
annual report (rapport annuel)
Is a report submitted by the head of a government institution to Parliament on the administration of the Act within the institution during the financial year.
applicant (auteur d'une demande)
Is a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or any individual or corporation present in Canada who requests access to a record under the Act.
class test
A test that objectively identifies the categories of information or documents to which certain exemption provisions of the Act can be applied. The following sections of the Act provide for exemptions that are based on a class test: 13(1), 16(1)(a), 16(1)(b), 16(3), 16.1, 16.2, 16.3, 16.4, 16.5, 18(a), 18.1, 19(1), 20(1)(a), 20(1)(b), 20(1)(b.1), 20.1, 20.2, 20.4, 21(1), 22.1, 23, 24 and 26.
complainant (plaignant)
Is an individual who makes a complaint to the Information Commissioner on any of the grounds outlined in subsection 30(1) of the Access to Information Act.
delegate (délégué)
Is an officer or employee of a government institution who has been delegated to exercise or perform the powers, duties and functions of the head of the institution under the Act.
designated minister (ministre désigné)
Is the President of the Treasury Board for the purpose of this policy.
discretionary exemption
An exemption provision of the Act that contains the phrase "may refuse to disclose." The following sections of the Act provide for exemptions that are discretionary: 14, 15(1), 16(1), 16(2), 16.3, 17, 18, 18.1, 21(1), 22, 22.1, 23 and 26.
every reasonable effort
A level of effort that a fair and reasonable person would expect or would find acceptable.
excluded information (renseignements exclus)
Is the information to which the Act does not apply as described in sections 68, 68.1, 68.2, 69 and 69.1 of the Act.
exemption (exception)
Is a mandatory or discretionary provision under the Act that authorizes the head of the government institution to refuse to disclose records in response to an access request.
government institution (institution fédérale)
Is "any department or ministry of state of the Government of Canada, or any body or office, listed in Schedule I, and any parent Crown corporation, and any wholly-owned subsidiary of a Crown corporation, within the meaning of section 83 of the Financial Administration Act" (section 3). The term "government institution" does not include Ministers' Offices.
Head (Responsable)
Is the Minister, in the case of a department or ministry of state. In any other case, it is the person designated by the Access to Information Act Heads of Government Institutions Designation Order. If no such person is designated, the chief executive officer of the institution, whatever their title, is the head.
Implementation Report (rapport de mise en oeuvre)
Is a notice issued by Treasury Board Secretariat to provide guidance on the interpretation and application of the Access to Information Act and its related policy, directives, standards and guidelines.
Info Source (Info Source)
Is a series of annual Treasury Board Secretariat publications in which government institutions are required to describe their organizations, program responsibilities and information holdings, including classes of records. The information is to contain sufficient clarity and detail to facilitate the exercise of the right of access under the Access to Information Act. The Info Source publications also provide contact information for government institutions as well as summaries of court cases and statistics on access requests.
Information Commissioner (Commissaire à l'information)
Is an Officer of Parliament appointed by Governor in Council.
injury test
A test to determine the reasonable expectation of probable harm that must be met for certain exemption provisions of the Act to apply. The following sections of the Act provide for exemptions that are based on an injury test: 14, 15(1), 16(1)(c), 16(1)(d), 16(2), 17, 18(b), 18(c), 18(d), 20(1)(c), 20(1)(d) and 22.
mandatory exemption
An exemption provision of the Act that contains the phrase "shall refuse to disclose." The following sections of the Act provide for exemptions that are mandatory: 13(1), 16(3), 16.1, 16.2, 16.4, 16.5, 19(1), 20(1), 20.1, 20.2, 20.4 and 24.
record (document)
Is "any documentary material regardless of medium or form" (section 3).
severability (prélèvements)
Relates to the principle under the Act in which the protection of information from disclosure must be limited to the portions of information or material that the head of the government institution is authorized or obligated to refuse to disclose under the Act. The principle applies to records that are the subject of an access request.
statistical report (rapport statistique)
Is intended to provide up-to-date statistics on the operation of the legislation. The reports allow the government to monitor trends and to respond to enquiries from Members of Parliament, the public and the media. The reports also form the statistical portion of the government institutions' annual reports to Parliament. The forms used for preparing the report are prescribed by the designated minister, as provided under paragraphs 70(1)(b) and (d) of the Access to Information Act.
tracking system
Is an electronic or paper-based internal case management system used in ATIP offices to track access requests and document their processing.
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