Eliminate all fees, except for the initial $5 filing fee.
Interim Policy Guidance
On the Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act was issued to take quick action on revitalizing access to information.
It instructs federal institutions to waive all access to information fees apart from the initial $5 filing fee.
The fees for making an access to information request to a federal institution have not been updated since the Access to Information Act was enacted in 1983. Under the Access to Information Act and the Access to Information Regulations, government institutions can charge requestors a $5 application fee to file a request.
Previously, search and preparation and reproduction fees could be charged in certain circumstances:
- $2.50 per person per quarter hour for every hour after the first five hours that are spent in search and preparation for non-computerized records (section 11(2) of the Act, section 7(2) of the Regulations)
- between $0.20 and $25 for duplication, including photocopying, microfiche duplication, or magnetic tape-to-tape duplication (section 11(1)(b) of the Act, section 7(1)(b) of the Regulations)
- between $0.05 and $2.50 for producing records in alternative formats such as braille, large print, or audiocassette for assisting with sensory disabilities (section 11(1)(c) of the Act, section 7(1)(c) of the Regulations)
- $5 per person per quarter hour and $16.50 per minute of central processing can be charged for producing "machine-readable" records (section 11(3) of the Act, section 7(3) of the Regulations)
Following a Federal Court of Canada decision, Canada (Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015, government institutions could no longer charge search and preparation fees for electronic records.
In 2014-, government institutions collected a total of $367,654 in fees from requestors:
- $311,486 in application fees
- $46,907 in search fees
- $4,523 in reproduction fees
- $1,875 in preparation fees
- $1,666 in production fees for records kept in a machine readable format
- $1,197 in programming fees for records kept in a machine readable format
The cost of processing the $5 application fee, if it is paid by cash or cheque, is between $51 and $55 per transaction. The cost to process a payment electronically on the Access to Information and Privacy Online Request pilot project is 50 cents.
The fees collected represent only a small fraction of the total costs of the federal access to information program. In 2014-, federal institutions spent over $67 million in direct costs to administer the Access to Information Act. This is the cost of staff and business systems for processing access to information requests in Access to Information and Privacy Offices; it does not include costs associated with business areas searching for and reviewing documents.
While the Government awaits Canadians' feedback on this proposal, it has taken quick action through the new Interim Directive to ensure that all fees apart from the initial $5 filing fee are waived.