Canada to Establish Pilot Portal for Making Requests

8 October 2012

The Canadian government has announced plans to create an online portal for citizens to file freedom of information requests to three agencies.

The portal will route requests to the proper department, allow fees to be paid electronically, and track action on the request, according to Canadian Press report.

The first departments to participate will be Citizenship and Immigration, Shared Services Canada and the Treasury Board Secretariat, with others to be added in three to four years, the government said. The pilot and will also handle applications under the Privacy Act.

Treasury Board spokeswoman Theresa Knowles said  that starting in 2014, Treasury Board plans to create a searchable online database of released access-to-information request summaries from all departments and agencies.

According to the article:

The database will replace an earlier information registry, known as CAIRS, that the Harper government killed in early 2008. As of this year, departments and Crown corporations have been required to post online monthly lists of completed access-to-information requests but there has been no central, searchable repository.”

 Canada’s information commissioner, who acts as an ombudsman for frustrated requesters, has pressed the Harper government to revive a publicly searchable request database. Suzanne Legault also wrote a joint letter last January with her fellow commissioners in the provinces and territories calling on Treasury Board President Tony Clement to create a central access portal, similar to Mexico’s.

“The implementation of an online portal to facilitate and improve the process of making access-to-information requests, as well as the dissemination of government information, is long overdue,” Legault said.

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