Building on the successes of the Global RTI Rating, Centre for Law and Democracy has now moved on to apply the RTI Rating Methodology to Canada’s 14 federal, provincial and territorial access law. The study has revealed that all of Canada’s access to information laws have serious weaknesses, but some are significantly worse than others:
These findings are discussed in an Analysis produced to accompany the results: Failing to Measure Up: An Analysis of Access to Information Legislation in Canadian Jurisdictions
Among the findings of the comparative analysis:
• Every Canadian jurisdiction excludes major public bodies from their access laws, often including the legislature and/or the cabinet.
• Every jurisdiction except Quebec, Saskatchewan and the Yukon allow for indefinite extensions of the time limits for responding to requests.
• Rules in many access laws to the effect that public bodies may only charge for actual costs incurred, regulations in every province go far beyond that, charging $0.20 or $0.25 per page of photocopying, up to $10 for a CD and up to $60/hour for employee time.
• Although every provincial and territorial access law presumptively overrides conflicting legislation, the list of exceptions to this is growing, so that numerous secrecy provisions override access laws (38 in Alberta, 26 in Saskatchewan, 24 in Newfoundland and 22 in Nova Scotia).
• Every access law in Canada contains a massively overbroad exception for internal government deliberations that fails to conform to international standards.
• Information Commissioners in eight jurisdictions – Canada, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon – lack the power to order the disclosure of information.
Canadian Access to Information Legislation Scoresheets in Full:
1. British Columbia: 97
2. Manitoba: 94
3. Newfoundland: 92
4. Yukon: 91
5. Prince Edward Island: 90
6. Ontario: 89
7. Nova Scotia: 85
8. Northwest Territories: 82
8. Nunavut: 82
10. Quebec: 81
11. Saskatchewan: 80
12. Alberta: 79
12. Canada (national law): 79
12. New Brunswick: 79