05/31/2012 12:27 EDT | Updated 07/31/2012 05:12 EDT

Information Commissioner Of Canada, Suzanne Legault, Warns Budget Cuts Threaten Access To Information


OTTAWA - A new report card from the information watchdog shows some government institutions are doing a better job responding to access requests.

Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault's report says 13 of the 18 departments and agencies she looked at performed better in 2010-11 than they did when she released her first report in 2008-09.

Those include CSIS, Fisheries and Oceans, Human Resources and Skills Development, CIDA, National Defence and Environment Canada.

Two institutions — the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency — received the same grade as last time.

And three were rated worse than in 2008-09: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Transport Canada.

But Legault says the gains are precarious and could be threatened by recent budget cuts.

"I think it is a vulnerable area subject to budget cuts, because it's part of internal services in most institutions," she said.

"And that is often where cuts are being made in institutions."

The Access to Information Act allows the public to obtain government records by submitting a request and paying a fee.

Legault's office will suspend its report card exercise until at least 2014 so it can devote more of its resources to resolving individual complaints.

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