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Slipshod practices might mean gaps in Canada's COVID-19 record, info watchdog says

Slipshod data keeping

The federal information watchdog says key government decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic might be lost to history because of a sudden shift to new technologies and long-standing poor record-keeping practices.

In her annual report tabled in Parliament today, information commissioner Caroline Maynard says working remotely has meant using different tools, such as online meeting technology and instant messaging.

She says decisions may not be properly recorded when using these methods, raising questions as to how information is being managed, stored, shared with others and disclosed to Canadians.

The commissioner is an ombudsman for requesters under the Access to Information Act, the key federal transparency law.

It allows users who pay $5 to ask for files ranging from briefing memos and expense reports to internal studies and emails.

However, the law introduced in 1983 has been widely criticized as outdated and poorly managed, prompting public complaints about prolonged delays and blacked-out pages in documents.



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