BC government bill does not create a duty to document government decisions
Legislation introduced today is completely discretionary says FIPA
VANCOUVER, March 8, 2017 – The bill introduced this afternoon by Finance Minister Mike de Jong is a sad excuse for action on creating a duty to document government decisions.
Despite demands from the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), the Information Commissioner’s office and the recommendations of a Special Legislative Committee, the BC government has introduced a law that is entirely discretionary and does not create any duty whatsoever.
“What the Minister is proposing is a pathetic excuse for a response to massive pressure for action on this issue,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “A legal duty uses the words ‘must’ or ‘shall’, not the word ‘may’.”
In the wake of the Triple Delete scandal and recommendations from the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner, FIPA and many others, a Special Legislative Committee recommended the creation of a legislative “duty to document” to ensure that government records are created and maintained. The bill introduced today does not such thing, merely giving the Chief Information Officer to discretion to bring in “directives and guidelines” on the creation of adequate records. Furthermore, the Information Commissioner will not be able to review any of these decisions, contrary to the recommendations of the Special Legislative Committee.
An Ipsos poll commissioned by FIPA last year showed that 78% of British Columbians believe it is very important that government implement a duty to document.
“The government has been feeling the pressure to do something, and this is as far as they are willing to go,” said Gogolek. “The people of this province will soon be judging them on their performance, and on this issue they deserve a failing grade.”
Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
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