Before you submit a complaint

Do you have standing under the Act?

The following individuals and corporations, who have the right under the Access to Information Act to make access requests for records under the control of government institutions, may submit complaints to the Information Commissioner:

  • Canadian citizens
  • permanent residents (as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act)
  • individuals present in Canada who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • corporations present in Canada.

For complaints related to access requests, the complainant must be the person or corporation who made the access request. For example, a complaint about a refusal of access must come from the person who was refused access to records. This includes when a lawyer or other person, or a law firm or other organization made an access request on someone’s behalf. The person or organization who made the access request is the complainant.

Is your complaint about a government institution?

The Act covers about 250 institutions. These do not include provincial, municipal or private sector bodies. In addition, the Information Commissioner may not investigate complaints against individuals.

Does your complaint relate to an access request you made to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC)?

If so, please submit it to the Information Commissioner ad hoc.

Does your complaint relate to a request you made under the Privacy Act or to another matter covered by that law?

If so, please contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Are you within the 60-day period to complain?

There is a 60-day deadline for submitting complaints. When the 60 days start depends on the circumstances. Complaints submitted after the deadline are inadmissible, and the Information Commissioner does not investigate them.

More information: Timeframe for submitting a complaint

Do I have to submit my complaint myself?

No, you may authorize someone else to submit complaints for you and to act on your behalf during investigations. When this is the case, the Office of the Information Commissioner deals directly with the authorized person, but you are the complainant.

If you wish to authorize someone to act on your behalf, you must complete the authorization form and have the authorized person submit it with the complaint.

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