MPs to study Access to Information system, federal 'culture of secrecy'

OTTAWA — The House of Commons information, ethics and privacy committee plans to look at Canada’s much-maligned access-to-information regime — the latest in a long line of studies of a system intended to make government more transparent.

Conservative MP Pat Kelly, the committee chairman, says the system is plagued by excessive delays and a culture of secrecy that has been "baking in for decades."

The Access to Information Act allows people who pay $5 to ask for a range of federal documents — from internal emails to policy memos — but it has long been criticized as outdated and poorly implemented.

The law has not been significantly updated since its introduction 39 years ago, and many users complain of lengthy delays, heavily blacked-out documents or blanket denials in response to their applications.

Kelly says the problems have persisted for years, spanning both Conservative and Liberal governments.

The planned committee study comes as the federal government works to finish its own review of the access system that began more than two years ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

The Canadian Press