Canada's access system slow, ineffective
The Canadian government insists it is trying to become more transparent in the access to information system and decrease the number of requests, but investigative experts insist the system will remain the same.
The federal Treasury Board says all requests and payments will soon be made online to improve the current system. The plan also includes posting reports commissioned by the federal government to a virtual library.
But Ken Rubin, an investigative researcher who has spent the past few decades filing access to information requests for both himself and some news organizations, said the system will continue to be ineffective.
The government's solution do not seem to fix the problems, he said, which are too many exemptions, loose timelines and too much "creative avoidance" by government departments.
"If you can't release records right away, and we've go the technological means to do so, then you've got a problem," said Rubin, who referenced one situation where it took four years to receive Health Canada files on asbestos in Canadian schools and office buildings.
"It was incomplete...that's no reason to hold it for that many years."
The country's information commissioner defended the current process but admitted ongoing improvements need to be made.
Suzanne Legault added the open government initiative, which is happening all over the world, is slowly making Canada's system better but can't change access laws.
"Open government does not mean we have to let go of high performance standards on access to information," said Legault.
Federal government departments received more than 35,000 access-to-information requests in 2010 alone. CBC News reported Monday public servants often make requests for their personal work information.