On this episode of the show, we go back to a time before British Columbia had freedom of information or privacy laws—to the year 1990—and find out what it was like to request information from government.
Then, we find out how a small group of dedicated individuals were able to advocate, draft, and ultimately bring about B.C.’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, bringing this province one step closer to the ideal of open government.
We’ll hear about how the new legislation offered the promise of greater government transparency and accountability, and about what’s transpired in the nearly thirty years since the Act was passed.
Guests on this episode include: FIPA co-founder Darrell Evans, FIPA co-founder and former Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis, current Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, former Attorney General Colin Gableman, former MLA Barry Jones, current MP Murray Rankin, and the Vancouver Sun’s legislative reporter Vaughn Palmer.
Last November, we published Carroll Anne Boydell’s analysis of BC’s new whistleblower legislation – the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) – and how it compares to international best practice standards. The study, which is currently available to download from our website, examines different legislations containing protections for whistleblowers who disclose wrongdoing in the province and determines how well they follow best practice principles.
Click here for a free download of the document.
A small step towards open and transparent government
Vancouver, February 5, 2019 – The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is pleased with the recommendations made by the province’s top watchdogs to bring the Legislative Assembly of B.C. under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
Signed by Information
and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, Merit Commissioner Fiona Spencer, and
Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, the recommendations called for the Legislature to
“meet the same standards” that 2,900 other provincial public bodies are subject
the Legislature to freedom of information rules is a welcome sight, the move is
ultimately just one of the steps to a full reform that FIPA has been calling
for in the past two decades. “This is just one little piece of the puzzle and
there’s a whole lot of reform that we’re trying to get,” says Executive
Director Sara Neuert. “We continue to be in reactionary mode and we need to
move a step further and be proactive.”
recommendations will only act to prevent the exact same scandal from repeating
itself, more effective change would address a broader scale of freedom of
The Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) drafted in May of 2016 has made calls for a comprehensive reform, which would include the enactment of a Duty to Document, penalties for interference, and addressing the exceptions and loopholes that can be routinely exploited during any FOI proceedings.
These comprehensive reforms are the only measures that will provide government transparency and establish a system of accountability that will prevent future government scandals from occurring.
Sara Neuert, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca
at Legislative Assembly demonstrates need for Law Reform
Vancouver, January 24,
2019 – The need for
reforming British Columbia’s outdated Freedom
of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) is evidenced by the
recent scandal concerning misconduct and lack of oversight at B.C.’s
made by house speaker Darryl Plecas reflect the ‘black holes’ that exist in the
transparency of government bodies, such as the legislature and office of the
Legislative Assembly is outside the jurisdiction of freedom of information
requests,” says Sara Neuert, executive director of BC Freedom of Information
and Privacy Association. “It’s a shortcoming of government transparency and
accountability. We would have learned of this sooner had we been able to place
legislature offices under scrutiny.”
amendments to the FIPPA have been repeatedly put forward by FIPA over the past
15-years. Recommendations for change were also presented in the last Special
Legislative Committee report published in May 2016 – echoing the calls for
additions such as mandating a ‘duty to document’ and administering real
repercussions to government officials who impede the FOI process. So far, the
current government has made several commitments to advancing reform, though steps
leading towards actual change have yet to arrive.
legislature offices under the dominion of FOI laws is not an impossibility and
can be enacted rather swiftly. While doing so would be a welcome step towards modernizing
the province’s FOI laws, it would ultimately be just a step. What the province
truly needs – and has needed for years – are comprehensive reforms, only then
can the government be held accountable by the taxpaying public.
Neuert, Executive Director
Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca