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Feds need 'to do better' on giving public access to information, Duclos says

Last Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 12:06 pm PDT

President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, June 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Summary

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledges the federal government needs 'to do better'

Information commissioner testified that federal agencies don't have the resources to answer rising number of requests

Jean-Yves Duclos points to technological weaknesses in some departments and agencies

OTTAWA — Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledges the federal government needs “to do better” at responding to formal information requests from the public.

The minister’s comments follow information commissioner Caroline Maynard’s parliamentary testimony that federal agencies don’t have the resources to answer the steeply rising number of access-to-information requests.

Duclos said during a media briefing today that providing timely facts in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is especially important because worried Canadians tend to look to the government for information.

Duclos says that while public servants working at home have faced genuine pandemic-related hurdles in answering requests for information, the government must do better over the longer term.

He points to technological weaknesses in some departments and agencies that make it difficult for them to deliver information, adding agencies must also release more records without being asked.

Duclos did not mention the possibility of spending more money on the system for releasing public information.