The last year has been an eventful year for access to information in Canada, and not all the news is good. Newfoundland and Labrador tightened its grip on information with new amendments that will make records harder to obtain. In Ottawa, the federal information commissioner announced she would review the performance of the much-maligned federal Access to Information Act. Ontario’s commissioner, meanwhile, increased access to compliance and appeals statistics, while New Brunswick finally brought its municipalities under access legislation.
This year's Freedom of Information audit puts a special focus on municipalities. The number of requests per city was increased to 10, allowinga close examination of the performance of individual municipal governments. For the first time, grades are provided to cities, rather than a province-wide municipal grade as in past audits. This will allow citizens of larger centres a better measure of how their local governments performed in comparison to others.
The audit at the upper levels of government continues as before, with provinces being sent 16 requests each, and the federal government 55.
The federal government`s performance was again among the worst. Only half of requests were completed within the statutory 30-day deadline. Of the provinces and territories, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Yukon were the fastest responders, while B.C. was the slowest. Unlike most provinces, B.C. allows 30 business days to respond to access requests instead of 30 calendar days, a fact that continues to penalize it in the Newspapers Canada Audit.
The project was led by Fred Vallance-Jones, associate professor of journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax. A student audit team submitted and tracked more than 400 access requests from January to May 2012.
The 2012 FOI Audit and related materials are provided at the links below:
If you have any questions about Newspapers Canada's 2012 FOI Audit, please contact contact John Hinds, Newspapers Canada CEO, at 416-923-3567 ext 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.