ATIP Requests at LAC


  • The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act give the right of access to records under the control of a government institution.
  • Only 2% of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests are for operational records created by LAC. The remaining requests are unlike those anywhere else in the Government of Canada (GC), as they are for GC archival records in LAC holdings, as well as personnel files of former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members (as per Order In Council 1971-1989) or files of former public servants. LAC ATIP analysts develop specialized and diverse skill sets beyond those found in other ATIP units across the GC.
  • LAC is receiving an increasing number of ATIP requests that cover larger volumes of pages. The current resourcing level (approx. 50 FTEs) is insufficient to meet demand (not including resourcing for class actions which have been separately funded). LAC’s Annual Reports on the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to Parliament for 2018-19 provide further details.
  • It can currently take up to 17 months for former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members to receive a response from LAC, depending on the nature and urgency of the request and LAC’s prioritization.
  • Bill C-58, a new Access to Information Act (not yet published), received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. It does not fundamentally alter Canada’s ATIP regime and does not address ATIP capacity or governance issues.


  • LAC works to proactively open GC archival material in its holdings using an approach called “block review.” Under this initiative, over 48 million pages of archival records have been opened and this work continues.
  • LAC provides specialized access to records for Indigenous land claim researchers, in accordance with Section 8(2) of the Privacy Act. A specific process is followed to ensure researchers with the appropriate permissions are granted this specialized access to the unredacted original records. As such, LAC is working with Indigenous communities to ensure this process becomes as efficient as possible, while managing rights access.
  • Requests for GC archival records often require consultation with the departments that created the records to obtain advice on potential severances, especially on records in the security and intelligence domain. Given ATIP volume workloads across the GC, these files often experience delays and go into “deemed refusal” status leading to complaints to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC).
  • LAC recently upgraded its technology platform (information withheld pursuant to s.16.2(c)) and is now the first ATIP team to join (information withheld pursuant to s.16.2(c)).
  • Key changes under Bill C-58 include :
    • The ability for an institution to refuse certain ATIP requests deemed to be considered vexatious, frivolous or made in bad faith.
    • New proactive disclosure requirements include the online publication of titles of briefing notes to the Deputy Minister each month, and the publication of transition packages for incoming Deputy Ministers. This effort requires full translation, ATIP review and coding of any material to be put online.
    • Bill C-58 gives the OIC new powers to order a government institution to disclose a record in response to a public complaint. The OIC will have clearer powers for the investigation of complaints and new capacity for proactively publishing reports on findings.
  • Following the introduction of Bill C-58 and given LAC ATIP’s resource need increases, a budget ask is being prepared to stabilize and modernize the ATIP function at LAC.

Key Public Messages

  • ATIP is a key step in LAC fulfilling its mandate to provide Canadians with access to millions of federal archival records, contributing to Open Government priorities, and supporting access rights and service requirements of client groups such as former CAF members and Indigenous peoples.
  • LAC is committed to providing access to its collections in accordance with ATIP legislation and is actively recruiting and building capacity within the ATIP team to deliver on this priority.
  • There is growing pressure for access that LAC is unable to meet. LAC continues to advocate for increased funding to meet the challenges posed by increased demand, sensitivity and volume of documentation.


Kristina Lillico, Director ATIP and Litigation Response Division
Tel: 613-867-3784

Date modified: