September 24th to 28th is Right to Know Week across Canada, which coincides with the 10th annual International Right to Know Day on September 28th. Organized by the Office of the Information Comissioner of Canada, this is Canada’s seventh Right to Know Week.
Since its creation in 1983, the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada has ensured that the rights conferred by the Access to Information Act are respected, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability across the federal government. The Access to Information Act creates the right for Canadians to demand information from governing bodies and permits the retrieval of government files respecting the timelines enforced by the Information Commissioner. Each province has its own access and privacy legislation which is enforced by provincial commissioners. Events will be taking place across the country this week to promote the freedom of information worldwide.
For instance, on Monday September 24th, Newspapers Canada released its seventh annual National Freedom of Information (FOI) Audit which reviews the performance of Canadian governments with respect to their access to information regimes. The audit provides the public the opportunity to see which governments are in compliance with their own FOI legislation, as well as facilitating comparisons between jurisdictions.
We have previously written about our experience with requesting data from governments and we’ve learned that ATI laws are powerful tools, not only to release data, but also to change behaviour. With increased access comes increased transparency, which can help achieve more responsible governance and give citizens opportunities to better understand decision-making processes. We are particularly interested in the talks taking place this week regarding strategies for using ATI requests by the public and the experiences of cities like Calgary that have adopted open data policies.
A list of all events is available on the Right to Know Week calendar. We encourage you to visit the Right to Know Week website where you will find information on the history of ATI laws in each province and territory.
To follow Right to Know Week on Twitter, the official hashtag for the week is #RTK.