The federal Office of the Information Commissioner is planning a review of Canada’s 30-year-old Access to Information Act. It is time. As Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) noted in its 2011/2012 Review of Free Expression in Canada earlier this year, the act has not been updated since it was created in 1983, In 2011, Canada ranked 40th out of 89 countries in the Global Right to Information Rating.

The federal Office of the Information Commissioner is planning a review of Canada’s 30-year-old Access to Information Act. The commissioner’s office said in July that in the coming months it will “engage in a dialogue with the public and stakeholders on the modernization of the Access to Information Act.”

It is time. As Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) noted in its 2011/2012 Review of Free Expression in Canada earlier this year, the act has not been updated since it was created in 1983, while a number of other countries have recently overhauled their legislation to make it far more up to date.

In 2011, Canada ranked 40th out of 89 countries in the Global Right to Information Rating published by the Halifax-based Centre for Law and Democracy and Access Info Europe.

Newspapers Canada’s National Freedom of Information Audit has found inconsistencies in the type and amount of information released, and wait times for information frequently exceeding the maximums prescribed by law.

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The Office of the Information Commissioner acknowledges there are problems, saying in a press release that “while Canada was a trailblazer in government transparency three decades ago, today, the Access to Information Act would benefit from an assessment with other, more progressive, freedom of information laws around the world.”

According to a Canadian Press report, Commissioner Suzanne Legault will release a discussion paper in September, to be followed by public consultations, and submit concrete proposals to Parliament next spring.

Anyone interested in being part of the public consultation can contact Josee Villeneuve of the commissioner’s office to be put on the notification list.