Making a request under the Access to Information Act
On this page
- Before making a request for information
- Submit your request online
- Tips for submitting your request
- Examples of general records
- Make a request by email or mail
- What happens once you make your request
- What you will receive after processing your request
- Requests for third-party information
The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to provide a right of access to general records under the control of a federal government institution to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or any individual or corporation present in Canada. All government records may be requested under the Access to Information Act. It does not make provisions for institutions to create new records or to answer specific questions.
If you are looking to access your own personal information ,a Privacy Act request is the more effective route as there is no cost, and there is a dedicated team to process these requests within the RCMP. However, if you choose to request your personal information under the Access to Information Act cost $5) instead of the Privacy Act, you will need to provide the same information as for a Privacy Act request.
Before making a request for information
Before making an access to information request, you can search the summaries of access to information requests for records that have already been released by the Government of Canada to see if you can find what you are looking for there.
Visiting the government's Open Government Portal for previously completed Access to Information requests.
Submit your request online
The easiest way to submit a request is by using the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Online Request service. It's fast and convenient. This service allows you to make online requests for information instead of having to print, scan, mail or email a paper form.
The Government of Canada's online portal lists the information you should have on hand before submitting your request.
Tips for submitting for your request
Why do I need to be precise when requesting information
The RCMP is a large, multi-jurisdictional organization with offices and detachments across Canada. We use many different record-keeping systems that are not fully integrated. Searches for records are not done by the ATIP Branch in Ottawa; they are done by the division, detachment, program or employee who holds the records in question. As such, we need to understand the geographic location where your request will primarily be held in order to task it appropriately. For this reason, the more precise the request is, the faster we can respond.
You must include enough information about the records you wish to access to allow an experienced employee of the RCMP, with reasonable effort, to find the records being requested. For example:
- provide a clear and detailed description of the information you are looking for
- give a date range and location (you can also include the units, detachments and/or divisions that hold the records)
- separate your requests so that it's a single request
Examples of general records
Some non-personal information that can be requested includes:
- memoranda, briefing notes
- invoices, budgets
- meeting agendas
- investigation files
- intelligence reports
- audit reports
Some documents may not be released to protect certain interests. For example:
- information on national security and sensitive law enforcement methods
- trade secrets
- solicitor-client privilege
- personal information
- advice to Ministers
There is a $5.00 application fee. Please include payment by cash, cheque or money order (payable to the Receiver General of Canada) with your request.
The RCMP's Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Branch continues to face challenges that result in response delays to requests submitted under the Access to Information Act. Despite our legislative responsibilities, certain realities prevent us from responding in under 30 days.
Delays can be due to:
- operational requirements that call for RCMP members and employees to be redeployed (for instance, natural disasters like wildfires and flooding, significant investigations, and major events, to name just a few)
- the fact that the RCMP still relies heavily on paper-based processes, with records that have not be digitized
- the extensive search required (more than 750 locations throughout Canada)
- the long term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help streamline your request, try and be as focused and precise as possible. ATIP officials are here to help you get to the core of what you are requesting, in order to assist you to get the information you are requesting as quickly as possible.
The RCMP recognizes the importance of complying with legislated timelines. That is why we are currently overhauling our program and addressing these issues by:
- devoting resources to improve the timeliness of responses
- modernizing policies and procedures within the program to enhance operational efficiency
- expanding training and awareness campaigns for personnel to ensure they understand the obligation to respond within legislated timeframes.
Read the details of our efforts for the next five years in the modernization strategy and action plan.
Make a request by email or mail
If you can't make a request online, you can complete the RCMP's Access to Information Request Form and email it to email@example.com or mail it to the address below. If you can't download or print the form, you may also submit a letter clearly indicating that your request is being made under the Access to Information Act and describe the following:
- The records you are seeking. Be as specific as possible.
- Your preferred method of receiving the records (copies sent electronically or by mail).
- Your email address or telephone number in case we need clarification.
- Your name, street address, city or town, province or territory and postal code.
Mail your form or letter to:
RCMP Access to Information and Privacy Branch
73 Leikin Drive, Mail Stop #61
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0R2
What happens once you make your request
How long will it take to receive information?
- Requests are handled in the order in which they are received. We receive a large number of requests on a daily basis and have a significant backlog.
- Once you make your request, the RCMP's ATIP Branch in Ottawa opens a file and identifies where relevant records may be located. Employees located across the country are contacted and asked to provide material, depending on the request.
- The ATIP Branch may also request an extension if more time is needed to collect the information. It can be granted provided the extension is justified.
- Once tasked, RCMP employees must search for all relevant material, which can include electronic files, notebook entries, emails, text messages, etc., and supply them to the ATIP Branch in Ottawa for processing.
- The ATIP Branch may conduct additional consultations, either within the RCMP or with external partners, as needed.
- All of the submitted material is then reviewed by the ATIP Branch, and exemptions and/or exclusions are applied, as outlined by the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The ATIP Branch will then release the material to the requester.
What will you receive after processing your request
After the materials have been processed, requesters receive the following:
- any releasable documents relevant to your request
- a formal response letter citing any exemptions or exclusions applied during the processing of your request, your right to make a complaint and the relevant process, and contact information for the analyst who processed your request should you have any additional questions or concerns.
Requests for third-party information
If you are requesting information that belongs to a third-party, a consent letter clearly stating that you are entitled to receive this information is required. This would also include a spouse, or dependent who may also be involved in the requested information. Without this approval, the RCMP is prohibited by law to release the records so including this as part of your initial request is essential to help us process your request.
Anyone requesting information from an ATIP office has the right to file a complaint on any aspect of their request.
Examples can include:
- Satisfaction: Are not satisfied with the response they received from the RCMP.
- Incomplete search/missing records: Not all of the requested records were provided.
- Delay: The 30-day time period has elapsed and a final response has not been received.
- Exemptions/exclusions: The records were entirely or partially withheld by the institution.
Complaints concerning the processing of your information requests are to be submitted to the Information Commissioner within 60 days of receipt of the response letter. Should you decide to proceed with this right, your notice of complaint is to be addressed to:
Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street, 7th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 1H3
Should you have a complaint about how the RCMP collected, used, disclosed, retained and/or disposed of personal information, it should be directed to the Privacy Commissioner. Complaints related to privacy and privacy requests are to be addressed to:
Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 1H3
File a formal privacy complaint - Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
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