COVID apology no longer applies says Information Commissioner CBC

‘COVID apology’ no longer applies, says Information Commissioner –

This is unacceptable, she ruled on Monday when she testified before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

“Institutions have had more than two years to adapt to the reality of a pandemic and the challenges it brings to our living and working environments. »

— A quote from Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner of Canada

Under the Access to Information Act, federal departments and agencies must respond within 30 days to citizens attempting to obtain records. However, Ottawa regularly gives itself additional time to actually follow up on these requests.

Ms Ménard’s team is facing a dramatic increase in complaints about non-compliance with ministries’ legal obligations, and she believes that the long deadlines granted are at the root of this influx of requests.

Speaking to parliamentarians, she said her office received almost 7,000 complaints between April 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, a 70% increase from the previous year.

In order to investigate each complaint as quickly as possible, the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada needs to put projects on hold and redirect as many resources as possible to work on those files.

The Commissioner is asking for additional resources as her team is not able to keep up and the list of complaints to be dealt with is growing.

If these complaints turn out to be justified, they make it possible to compel the services to disclose information.

She urged ministries to improve their performance now. There is no need to wait for changes in the law, she said.