BC FIPA proposes revisions to s. 13 of FIPPA after College of Physicians v. OIPC decision (the “Dr. Doe” case)

BC FIPA has proposed revisions to s. 13 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in Response to the Decision in College of Physicians of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Information and Privacy Commissioner) in its submission to the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Executive Summary

Section 13 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act permits an exception from access for “information that would reveal advice or recommendations be developed by or for a public body or a minister”. Until recently, it had been generally believed that “advice or recommendations” was limited to documents or reports that advocated that government choose a particular course of action or make a particular decision; in effect, “we recommend that you do this”, or “we advise that you do that”.

In the recent “Dr. Doe” case, however, the Sexual Conduct Review Committee of the College of Physicians was able to withhold from an applicant experts’ reports about whether or not she had been hypnotized. The Court of Appeal held that the s. 13 exception was not limited to recommendations as defined above; instead, the investigation and gathering of facts could be exempted from access pursuant to s. 13, regardless of whether or not any decision or course of action was actually recommended.

The result is a departure from the original intent of the statute. Applicants can now be denied access to a great variety of documents that would previously have been available to them. This will be the case even where the documents are about those applicants themselves and directly affect their interests.

The legislation should be amended to reflect the intention that the words “advice or recommendations” in s. 13 are limited to actually advising or recommending that government do something.

Download the full submission (pdf).

Toolkit for Access to Personal Records

We have put together model letters to help citizens access and correct the personal information held by the Federal and BC governments.

 

Personal Information:

Request for Personal Information from BC Gov’t

Request for Personal Information from Federal Gov’t

 

Corrections:

Request for Correction of Personal Information Held by BC Gov’t

Request for Correction of Personal Info Held by Federal Gov’t

 

Reviewing (Appealing) if not satisfied with the response to your request:

Request for Review (Appeal) of a Request for Personal Information from the BC Gov’t

Request for Review (Appeal) of a Request for Personal Info from the Federal Gov’t

Key Recommendations for Reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

BC FIPA has published a list of key recommendations for reform to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act).

FIPA calls for a number of improvements:

  • reinforcing the ‘public interest’ provision under s. 25;
  • limiting what the government can do without consent;
  • increasing the responsibility of public bodies to respond fully to requests and in a timely fashion;
  • introducing whistleblower protections;
  • improving the rules regarding retention and destruction of documents;
  • narrowing the exceptions under s. 14 and 15;
  • extending the scope of coverage of the Act to the Legislative Assembly;
  • reviewing all the statutory exceptions from the Act; and,
  • revisiting the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Read the full recommendations (pdf).