Duclos reminds cabinet colleagues to be transparent, ‘even in times of crisis’


OTTAWA — The federal minister responsible for public access to government information has reminded his cabinet colleagues of the need for transparency and accountability “even in times of crisis.”

In a letter sent Wednesday to his fellow ministers, Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos says being open during the COVID-19 pandemic is key to ensuring public confidence.

The letter, obtained by The Canadian Press, stresses the importance of documenting government decision-making, managing files securely and making best efforts to answer requests under the Access to Information Act.

It also encourages ministers to have their institutions proactively publish as much information as possible about COVID-19 on the federal open government portal as soon as this is feasible.

Duclos’ message follows calls from the federal information commissioner, the Canadian Association of Journalists and an ad-hoc accountability group for concrete actions to ensure transparency during the pandemic.

Many federal employees are working remotely and those doing non-essential work have been asked to limit their use of government networks, sometimes making it more difficult for agencies to release information.