GATINEAU, QC, June 7, 2018 /CNW/ - Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner of Canada, tabled her 2017–18 annual report in Parliament today.
While the report features investigations and court decisions exclusively concluded during the last year of the former Information Commissioner's mandate, it also outlines Commissioner Maynard's priorities and her approach to fulfilling her role.
"When I arrived at the OIC, I quickly realize that our backlog of complaints would need to be tackled head-on," said Commissioner Maynard. "I have already taken steps to improve operational efficiency and establish good working relationships with federal institutions in order to improve access for Canadians."
Commissioner Maynard has also set a number of other priorities. These include preparing to implement amendments to the Access to Information Act contained in Bill C-58.
The 2017–18 annual report, which is available on the OIC website also includes a retrospective of the mandate of former Commissioner Suzanne Legault.
Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard's priorities
1. Address the inventory of complaints
The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) ended 2017–18 with nearly 3,500 complaints in its inventory. The Commissioner's principal priority is to work with OIC staff to identify ways to resolve complaints faster and to address delays in the investigation process, in order to reduce the backlog.
The government announced $2.9 million in temporary funding for the OIC in Budget 2018. The Commissioner plans to dedicate these funds to resolving more complaints. Over time, the OIC will also seek to streamline the investigation process and become more efficient by introducing innovations and capitalizing on technology to enhance service to Canadians.
2. Implement amendments to Access to Information Act
The changes contained in Bill C-58 present operational challenges for the OIC. For example, if the Bill is enacted as currently drafted, the OIC would have to manage—possibly for a number of years—three distinct complaint and investigation processes, due to the transition periods set out in the Bill.
The OIC is looking at various models it could adopt to carry out its responsibilities under the amended Act. The Commissioner and her staff are continuing to analyze the proposed amendments, and are sharing any concerns with Parliament and the government as they arise.
3. Ensure openness and transparency at the OIC
Openness and transparency are essential to the access to information system. It is a priority for the Commissioner that operations of her office reflect those principles.
Among her goals is to make the complaints process simple and transparent for Canadians. The OIC is developing additional guidance for complainants and institutions on the investigation process and on the decisions the OIC takes. Work is also under way to enhance and refresh the OIC's web and social media presence.
4. Work closely with institutions
Continued progress to improve the access to information system depends on institutions meeting their obligations under the Access to Information Act and addressing systemic issues. To that end, the Commissioner and the OIC will be working closely and collaboratively with institutions to share best practices and opportunities for improving service to Canadians.
On June 6, 2018, The Commissioner held her inaugural meeting with the access to information coordinators: the leaders who play the vital role of managing and responding to access information requests across federal institutions. During this meeting, they shared perspectives and discussed their concrete concerns and how they might address them together. She will continue to hold such meetings regularly, and is also meeting with the heads of institutions to reinforce the importance of this collaborative approach and to promote openness and accountability.
SOURCE Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
For further information: Natalie Bartlett, Manager, Communications and Media Relations, Office of the Information Commissioner, Tel: 819-994-1068, Email: [email protected]