An Update on FIPPA Public Engagement Consultation

The BC Ministry of Citizens’ Services public consultation on freedom of information and privacy rights in BC closed on April 9, 2018.  We would like to thank you all citizens and organizations those who supported FIPA in the consultation period with blogs and submissions.

The public consultation expanded from two categories to a total of 7 categories:

  • Welcome,
  • The FOI Process,
  • Protecting your Privacy,
  • Getting access to the information you want—Without an FOI Request,
  • Fees for FOI Requests,
  • Reporting Privacy Breaches, and
  • Offences & Penalties in FIPPA,

showing the ministry was reacting to the public’s concerns. Your participation helped in already making a difference.

In addition, the ministry set up a special phone number so citizens wanting participate but had difficulty participating by computer could participate in the consultation.  A joint ministry/GCPE (Government Communications and Public Engagement) (20+ Ministry FOIP analysts) has been meeting with a selection of FOI requesters including FIPA’s president Mike Larsen.  The interviews were about an hour in length and focussed on the practical dimensions of FOI such as, preparation, filing and interactions and release packages in BC.  This provided an opportunity to reinforce FIPA’s formal position on reforms to FIPPA such as the overuse of ‘cabinet’ and ‘policy advice’ exemptions.

FIPA’s Executive Director had the opportunity to meet with Director of FOI requests Branch and A/Executive Director, Privacy, Compliance & Training Branch to review the current training for new staff to government.  The training was seen as detailed and effective, but it was the follow-up helplines that staff can call to ask specific questions after the training will support and improve the accurate recording of information within government.

To date there have been many positive aspects of the FOI review, but it is not resulted in changed legislation and BC FIPA is continuing to assert the importance that change needs to happen.  A poll conducted last year by Ipsos Canada for FIPA showed British Columbians are extremely supportive of a number of measures including creating a duty to document, penalties for violation of the law and closing loopholes for education subsidiaries.