Every year, federal government institutions(1) create and manage information in all media of recorded communication in support of public policy, the administration of government, and the delivery of programmes and services to Canadians. Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act (2004), Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Canada is charged with various responsibilities regarding the disposal of this information, including the authorization of records destruction by government institutions (Section 12) and the preservation of records for their archival or historical importance (Section 13).
To meet these legislative requirements, the Librarian and Archivist issues Records Disposition Authorities (RDA) to enable government institutions to dispose of records which no longer have operational utility, either by permitting their destruction, by requiring their transfer to LAC, or by agreeing to their alienation from the control of the Government of Canada.
RDAs are granted by the Librarian and Archivist to government institutions in two ways, either
- on an institution-specific basis, through the approval of records disposition authorities which relate to records managed by a single government institution, and which allow the institution to dispose of records according to the terms and conditions of an agreement negotiated between LAC and the institution;
- on a multi-institutional basis, through the approval of records disposition authorities which relate to records managed by all or a multiple number of government institutions, and which allow the institutions empowered to use the authorities to dispose of records under certain terms and conditions.
This collection of RDAs relates exclusively to approvals issued by LAC to all or a multiple number of government institutions permitting the disposal of records on a multi-institutional basis.
Purposes and Objectives
The Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities (MIDA) in this collection are issued by the Librarian and Archivist to provide direction to government institutions subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act regarding the disposal of records managed by all or a multiple number of government institutions. They are designed to eliminate the need for government institutions individually to prepare submissions for and negotiate agreements with the Librarian and Archivist for records which have similar administrative or operational status. The collection also contains other documents prepared by LAC - policies, agreements, guidelines, etc. - which have multi-institutional application across government in reference to the disposal of federal records.
The Legislative Framework of Government Records Disposition: the Library and Archives of Canada Act
The disposal of records managed by government institutions occurs under the Library and Archives of Canada Act. A government institution is subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act if it is listed in Schedule I of the Access to Information Act or in the Schedule to the Privacy Act.
The Library and Archives of Canada Act establishes the authority of the Librarian and Archivist to control the destruction of records by government institutions and to preserve records with archival or historical value, and to take whatever measures and steps are deemed necessary to achieve these goals and objectives. It also identifies the responsibilities, obligations and accountabilities of government institutions in relation to records disposal processes.
It is important to note that a Records Disposition Authority permitting the destruction of records by a government institution does not constitute a requirement to destroy, nor does it provide direction regarding the timing of records destruction. A permission to dispose of records granted by the Librarian and Archivist to a government institution simply indicates that LAC has determined that these records do not need to be preserved for the future archival or historical use of Canadians. Accountability regarding the decision to destroy records and the timing of records destruction rests with individual government institutions.
Retention Periods for Records
RDA issued by the Librarian and Archivist to government institutions, including Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities, do not provide or authorize retention periods for records.
In cases where records are determined to have archival or historical value and are required to be transferred to the custody and control of Library and Archives Canada, the Librarian and Archivist negotiates agreements with government institutions regarding the timing of transfers (or other arrangements) in order to secure their preservation as archival documents.
Who May Use the Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities?
Unless otherwise specified, all government institutions subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act may use the Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities to dispose of records which do not have archival or historical value.
Exceptions to the application of a Multi-Institutional Disposition Authority are identified in appended Terms and Conditions, notably in the statement of the Scope of records disposition coverage and in the statement of the Authorization to Destroy.
How Should Multi-Institutional Disposition Authorities be Applied by Government Institutions?
RDA should be applied to records by government institutions in the following order of priority:
- Institution-Specific Disposition Authorities (ISDA) related to records managed by single government institutions. ISDA take precedence over all other RDA issued by the Librarian and Archivist.
- MIDAs related to operational or medium-specific records.
- MIDA related to common administrative records.
Questions concerning the application or interpretation of the MIDA in this collection may be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Centre will forward queries to the archivist responsible for your institution.
Specific exclusions within the five MIDA for Common Administrative Records
MIDA 98/001 General Administration Function Exclusions
MIDA 2001/002 Real Property Management Function Exclusions
Records related to -
- Any real property designated or recognized by the Minister of Canadian Heritage as heritage property having national or historical significance.
MIDA 99/003 Materiel Management Function Exclusions
Records related to -
- Clothing - Dress regulations and change of uniforms, etc.;
- Ships - Large; and
- Ships - Ocean-going and ice breakers, etc. including dry-docks.
N.B. Records related to Major Crown Projects are excluded not as a specific exclusion, but under the standard provision for OPI records exclusion - Appendix 1.
MIDA 99/004 Comptrollership Function Exclusions
Records related to -
- External audits performed by outside consultants (internal audits);
- Trust accounts related to mandated operational functions;
- Major capital plans and projects (planning and executing only);
- Payroll activity recorded on the employee personnel file;
- Internal audit and program evaluation final report files within an individual institution as part of its Review activity;
- Alternative service delivery;
- Agreements with other levels of government, where the institution plays the role of Office of Primary Interest; and
- Transfer payments, grants, and contributions.
MIDA 98/005 Human Resources Management Function Exclusions
Standard exclusions within the five MIDA for common administrative records
MIDA for common administrative records include standard exclusions within their Terms and Conditions - Appendix 1. The Scope of each MIDA may also describe what the function-specific MIDA covers and what it does not cover, e.g. applies to all institutions subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act, applies to electronic records and databases which directly support the function covered by a specific MIDA, etc.
The standard exclusions are all records created, collected, or maintained in any medium by a federal institution in support of the [specific common administrative MIDA] Function of the Government of Canada that:
- are operational in nature;
- are of a mixed operational and administrative character;
- do support an administrative function in an Office of Primary Interest;
- are otherwise excluded from the application of Authority [a specific MIDA] by virtue of the definitions and scope statement contained in this Appendix;
- are anterior to 1946; and
- have retention periods - established by the institution according to its legal and operational requirements - which have not expired.
This list of specific and standard exclusions is not meant to replace the function-specific MIDA as the authoritative response to questions related to the disposition of common administrative records of the Government of Canada. This list is only meant as a quick summary of exclusions to answer frequently asked questions by federal institutions. All exclusions, whether specific or standard, should be covered by institution-specific disposition authorities.
1 For the purpose of records disposition: federal government institutions comprise all institutions subject to the Library and Archives of Canada Act.
Print version [PDF 6,638 KB]
Part One: Supporting Documentation - Legislation, Policies, and Guidelines
Part Two: Transitory Records
Part Three: Common Administrative Records
Part Four: Operational and Medium-Specific Records