New Report, New Recommendations
New opportunity for the Minister to do the right thing.
The Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) released its report with recommendations titled FIPPA for the Future.
The detailed report makes 34 recommendations to improve and modernize access to information and privacy rules in British Columbia’s public sector. Several recommendations reflect the analysis presented by FIPA and the organizations we work with. FIPA is cited 28 times in the report in relation to our research and as support for recommendations.
“Despite Government actions which undermined Committee efforts, they received and made recommendations that would improve government transparency and accountability,” said Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) Executive Director Jason Woywada. “If enacted, these recommendations could go a long way to restore trust in public bodies and better protect the privacy rights of British Columbians.”
“One of the central themes of this report is the need to create and sustain a culture of transparency in the public sector,” said FIPA President Mike Larsen. “Senior officials set the tone, and if we want to see a movement away from the current culture of secrecy, decisive and sustained action from those officials is necessary”.
The recommendations make clear that Government’s earlier efforts did not make meaningful improvements to transparency and accountability. Their actions fall short and their recent amendments do not address many long-standing and important issues.
FIPA is grateful for the work of the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and heartened to see that the report was informed by submissions from a broad cross-section of civil society. We recognize and are pleased the recommendations reflect an all-party consensus.
The key step forward and test will be whether the Provincial Government acts on these recommendations. Prompt action would demonstrate BC’s commitment to transparency and accountability. Inaction would demonstrate further disdain by this government for these important legislative committees and reviews and for their own prior recommendations when in opposition.
We look forward to the Minister and Government’s response to the report.
FIPA wishes to extend a big thank you to our legal researchers who helped support and consult with our stakeholders and draft our submissions. You may also be interested in viewing their recent analysis of BC’s Report on the administration of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act 2019/20 & 2020/21
As noted in the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner news release:
- “The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), BC’s public sector access and privacy legislation, establishes an individual’s right to access records – including a person’s own personal information – as well as records in the custody or control of a public body. FIPPA also governs how public bodies can collect, use, and disclose personal information, and requires public bodies to protect and secure personal information against unauthorized use or disclosure.
- Every six years, a Special Committee undertakes a comprehensive review of the Act to determine the effectiveness of the legislation in the current social and economic environment. The Special Committee, first appointed on June 16, 2021, studied the legislation and considered public submissions to identify the changes needed to ensure FIPPA is fit for purpose.”
To inform its work, the Special Committee held open consultation and heard from 97 organizations and individuals including the Ministry of Citizens Services and Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.