Acquisition of Government Records - Library and Archives Canada
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Acquisition of Government Records

Every year in support of its policies, programs and services, the Government of Canada creates and manages records in a variety of recording media, increasingly in electronic form. Ranging from executive correspondence, policy statements, agreements, research reports, program files, contracts, deeds, leases, surveys and transactions of service to statistical data, photographs, architectural drawings, plans, maps and audio-visual and sound recordings, these records are critical

  • to the efficient administration of government as it conducts business and the affairs of state on behalf of the Canadian public;
  • to the capacity of the citizenry to hold government accountable for its decisions and actions in our democratic society; and
  • to the preservation of knowledge about our national history and collective memory for the benefit and use of future generations.

The National Archives of Canada serves as the permanent repository of the archival and historical records of government and facilitates the management of government records. Under the National Archives of Canada Act (1987), the authority to dispose of records, either by their transfer to the National Archives, by their destruction, or by their alienation from the control of the Government of Canada, is granted to government institutions by the National Archivist (Section 5). In addition, the Archivist may require government institutions to transfer records deemed to have archival or historical importance to the National Archives for long-term preservation (Section 6).

In its commitment to the preservation of governments recorded memory, the National Archives acquires or protects records

  • which document the deliberations, decisions and actions of government in relation to its assigned business functions, programs and activities, as well as records which establish the sovereignty, organization and administration of government;
  • which provide government and the public with information about the policies, decisions and programs of government institutions over time for the purposes of review, scrutiny and understanding;
  • which document the impact of government decision-making upon citizens and groups in Canada and the interaction between the Canadian public and the state;
  • that are considered essential to protect the collective and individual rights and privileges of Canadians and their social, cultural and physical environment;
  • of national significance which contain significant or unique information that will substantially enrich understanding about Canada’s history, society, culture and people; and
  • that the Government of Canada is required to maintain for a substantial period of time by law.

For more information on government records, consult Services to Government.

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