For the sixth time since 2001, BC’s Liberal government has introduced amendments to the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP Act) without making much-needed improvements in public access to information.
The BC government introduced Bill 25 on April 19 claiming that it “…will strengthen B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act” and “address recommendations of the Special Committee that reviewed the FOIPP Act.” However, according to the Campaign for Open Government, Bill 25 does nothing to make the process of filing an FOI requests easier, less costly or less time-consuming for requesters.
The administration has been very selective in choosing which of the recommendations of the 2004 Special Committee to implement: of the committee’s 28 recommendations, not one of the ten picked for action to date has improved the actual FOI request process.
“We have been asking for over a year now that the government implement all the recommendations from the Special Committee as the first step in reforming their abysmal record on freedom of information,” said campaign spokesperson Darrell Evans.
The one amendment in Bill 25 that directly affects FOI requests actually impedes them by increasing the ability of officials to stall requesters when a request is transferred from one public body to another. (See backgrounder #1, Analysis of Bill 25).
According to the Campaign for Open Government, obstructing access to information is business as usual for the Liberal administration. For a list of 10 actions they have taken to limit access, see the campaign website.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR OPEN GOVERNMENT IS A NON-PARTISAN COALITION OF GROUPS WHICH INCLUDES:
BC Civil Liberties Association
BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
BC Government Employees Union
BC Health Coalition
BC Library Association
BC Persons with AIDS Society
BC Teachers’ Federation
BC Trial Lawyers Association
Canadian Association of Journalists
Canadian Newspaper Association
Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union
Canadian Taxpayers Association
Committee for Racial Justice
Consumer Advocacy & Support for Homeowners Society
Sierra Legal Defense Fund
UBC School of Journalism
Western Canada Wilderness Committee