What you need to know about upcoming changes to the Access to Information Act


Changes to the Access to Information Act (ATIA) will place new requirements on Defence Team members across the organization.

Expected changes through Bill C-58 support the Government of Canada’s commitment to raising the bar for openness, transparency and accountability.

The Bill will bring changes to the current request-based system of the ATIA under Part 1 – Access to Government Records and introduce a new part to the Act, called Part 2 – Proactive Publication of Information.

  • Part 1 extends the present laws of Canada which provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government.
  • Part 2 requires institutions to proactively publish specific information known to be of interest to the public.

How might this affect the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces? You may be impacted by these changes if you are:

  • Likely to be tasked with drafting and/or transmitting a briefing note to L0 on behalf of your respective L1; and/or
  • Responsible for processing and reporting travel & hospitality expenses within your organization; and/or
  • Likely to be tasked with drafting/providing input to transition binders, parliamentary committee appearance binders, question period notes, or reports tabled in parliament.

Amendments will extend the present laws that provide Canadians with access to government records, which means more information can be made publicly available than ever before. Bilingual and web accessible formats will be crucial to support the public’s access to this information.

Changes will put into law proactive disclosure practices previously only covered by Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) policy. A summary of the changes expected in the proactive reporting of information can be found here (internal link). While changes are not expected to be implemented until Royal Assent, Defence Team members should familiarize themselves with these new requirements.

Until Bill C-58 receives Royal Assent, Defence Team members are reminded of their continued obligation under the ATIA as well as their current requirements to report information subject to proactive disclosure (internal link).

This represents the first major revision to the ATIA since it entered into force in 1983. For more information and the latest updates on Bill C-58, visit the Bill C-58 intranet page (internal link). If you have specific questions about Bill C-58, please contact P-OTG.ATIPGovernance@intern.mil.ca.

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