Lodging a Complaint
Anyone who feels that an information request was not properly handled by a federal institution may ask the OIC to investigate the issue. Typical reasons for making complaints include processing delays, denial of information, fees required, and official language concerns.
Remember that the OIC is also subject to the ATIA. Anyone who believes that an access request submitted to us was improperly handled is entitled to make a complaint about our handling of an information request. To ensure the integrity of the complaints process, the Commissioner has appointed an outside source – an ad hoc Information Commissioner – to conduct investigations into any complaints about the OIC.
The following FAQs cover the complaint filing process.
When may I complain?
You may complain to the Office within 60 days of receiving your answer from the federal institution in question for reasons such as:
- you believe you were improperly denied the information you requested;
- the answer to your request is taking too long;
- the fees are too high;
- you have not received the information in your official language of choice; or
- you become aware that other grounds for the complaint exist.
How do I complain?
If you wish to lodge a formal complaint under the Access to Information Act, please write to:
Office of the Information Commissioner
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Québec K1A 1H3
For security reasons, we cannot accept complaints by email or phone, but can provide general information on the complaint process.
Will my identity be protected?
All complaints are investigated confidentially. Your identity will be known only to the staff investigating your complaint and to the officials of the institution to which you made your request, who must respond to the Commissioner's investigation.
How does the Information Commissioner deal with my complaint?
Your complaint will be acknowledged and you will be given the assigned investigator's name. He or she may ask you questions and will give you the opportunity to present your point of view. The investigator will also obtain information from the institution and will try to mediate a resolution of your complaint.
Many complaints are settled by clearing up misinterpretations or errors. Bear in mind, however, that the Commissioner may conclude that the institution acted properly.
Before making a finding, the Commissioner considers the results of the investigation, your arguments, as well as those of the government institution and any third party affected by disclosure of the information. The finding is then reported directly to you.
Can I go to court if I'm not satisfied?
Once you have received the Commissioner's report, you may apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a review of the institution's decision to deny access to requested information—whether or not the Commissioner supports your complaint. The Commissioner may also decide to take a case involving an important point of law to the Federal Court of Canada, if you agree to it.