The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Process

Introduction

This module will unpack how to file an ATIP request and the importance of using this tool to advance feminist law advocacy and promote women’s equality rights.

In 1983, Canada was the 12th country in the world to pass access to information legislation. The Access to Information Act (ATIA) has since become an essential part of modern Canadian governance. It can help us hold the government accountable by providing a mechanism to request information —a mechanism which has become known as an Access to Information and Privacy Request or “ATIP Request”. 

ATIP requests allow you to demand that the government provide information about various decisions and how these decisions were made. This module will detail what kind of information you can ask for. 

Legal professionals and businesses remain the most significant users of this legislation. Non-profits, journalists and advocates surprisingly use the legislation less frequently. This has put into question its effectiveness. And while changes were made to ATIA in June 2019, it remains to be seen whether this will increase the number of people filing ATIP requests and whether the government will proactively disclose certain records.

"As we consider the accessibility of information pursuant to Bill C-58, I urge that we turn our attention to the experiences of those who are marginalized in Canada, those most likely to experience systemic violations of fundamental Charter rights and human rights. Too many face unequal starting points when it comes to collecting information necessary to advocate for themselves or others, to challenge government policies and to defend their rights in court."

Senator Kim Pate

Second Reading of Bill C-58 before the Senate on April 17, 2018

Listen

ATIP Requests with Dean Beeby

CBC News

One of the most challenging parts of being a journalist is the search for information. Dean Beeby is with CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa, and coaches other journalists on the use of the Access to Information Act.

No translation available:2016-09-15
No translation available:8 minutes

Dean Beeby trusts new generation of journalists will fix 'dysfunctional' access to information laws

CBC Radio | As It Happens

Beeby is one of the masters of Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests, and throughout his career he used them to wring story after story out of reluctant governments. As It Happens host Carol Off spoke to Beeby about how he became such an expert at using the legislation and the challenges ahead for the generations of journalists who are keen to follow in his footsteps.

No translation available:2019-04-26
No translation available:7 minutes

Read

Readings on federal Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests

Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request

Government of Canada


Completed Access to Information Requests

Government of Canada


Fast Facts: What is Access to Information and does it Matter?

Kevin Walby and Jamie Brownlee


Frequently asked questions: Implementation of Bill C-58

Information Commissioner of Canada


Access-to-information systems across Canada slowed by COVID-19

Karissa Donkin | CBC News

Some agencies have stopped accepting requests, but advocates say accountability is more important than ever.

Engage & Discuss

Browse through the Access to Information summaries from key federal institutions or search them by keyword, institution, month, and year. Make a request for already released documents that relate to a current law reform issue of interest to you.

What information or issue is missing for the access to information summaries? Is there any information on this issue that you might access through an ATIP request? 

Submit an Access to Information Request and track progress on your request for 90 days. What delays have you encountered? If your request is granted, what are some of your thoughts on the information submitted and/or withheld? 

Additional Resources

Access to Information and Social Justice: Critical Research Strategies for Journalists, Scholars, and Activists

Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby