Joint letter calls for action on FOI and privacy reform

Earlier today we sent a joint letter to Premier John Horgan supporting Freedom of Information and privacy reform, and offering our help to bring this about.

The text of the letter, signed by a number of well-known groups and individuals, is set out below. See here for the PDF copy.

 

February 22, 2018

The Honourable John Horgan
Premier of British Columbia
Victoria, BC

Dear Premier Horgan:

Re: Reform of Freedom of Information and Privacy Legislation

We are writing you regarding the need for immediate action in bringing about long-delayed reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Doubtless you appreciate that although that law was groundbreaking for the early 1990s, (when it was brought in by the NDP government of Mike Harcourt), it has become outdated and is in need of serious reform, as last year’s Special Legislative Committee outlined in its report. Some of the reforms called for include:

  • Implementing a legislative duty to document in FIPPA itself,
  • Bringing in legislative solutions to end the over-application of certain exceptions to disclosure, particularly sections 12 (cabinet records) and 13 (policy advice) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
  • Bringing the subsidiaries of educational and other public bodies within the scope of the FIPPA, and
  • Implementing mandatory breach notification.

It is our view that work must begin immediately on updating the Act.

In the meantime, we would like to remind you of an action your government can take immediately to demonstrate a concrete commitment to improving the system.

During the last election, your party was asked by the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association about a policy brought in by the previous government to post “the texts of Freedom of Information requests it receives even before releasing any information [to] the requester.” BC FIPA asked two questions, which are set out below along with your party’s responses:

Q:Do you agree with this policy, and if so, why?
A: No.
Q: If not, will your government end this practice?
A: Yes.

This practice continues to this day, despite your party’s very clear statement that it does not agree with it and will end it.

This does not require legislation or Chamber time, so we are puzzled as to why your government has yet to carry out your party’s quite categorical commitment to end it.

Finally, we would like to mention the result of a poll conducted last month by Ipsos Canada for BC FIPA. When asked how important they thought it was that your government bring in reforms to the information and privacy law before the next BC election, 47 percent said it was very important, and 38 percent said it was somewhat important.

We are available to work with your government to help bring about positive changes to protect the information rights of all British Columbians and build a stronger democracy.

Please let British Columbians know when we can expect this work to begin.

Yours Truly,

Vincent Gogolek

Executive Director

 

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association
Glen Hansman, President, BC Teachers Federation
Nick Taylor-Vaisey, President / National director, Canadian Association of Journalists
Darrell Evans, President, Canadian Institute for Information and Privacy Studies Society
Tamir Israel, Staff Lawyer, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic
Randy Christensen,  Staff Lawyer, Ecojustice
Jennifer Whiteside, Secretary Business Manager, Hospital Employees’ Union
Dermod Travis, Executive Director, Integrity BC
John Hinds, President and Chief Executive Officer, News Media Canada
Neil Self, Chairperson, Positive Living Society of British Columbia
Sharon Polsky, President, Privacy and Access Council of Canada
Beth Clarke, Development and Program Director, Wilderness Committee
Shannon Daub, Associate Director, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – BC Office
Stanley Tromp, Journalist

FIPA’s submission on ATIA reform

November 1, 2017

FIPA’s Submission on ATIA reform (Bill C-58)

The long-promised Liberal amendments to the Access to Information Act (ATIA) were finally revealed just before Parliament’s summer recess, and the reaction was swift and overwhelmingly negative.

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault (who was not consulted by the government on the proposed legislation) was also highly critical, saying “If passed, it would result in a regression of existing rights.”

Commissioner Legault issued a special report which detailed her many criticisms of what the government is proposing.

FIPA sent our own extensive criticisms in our submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

BC FIPA’s Submission on NAFTA Consultation

July 18, 2017

FIPA’s Submission on NAFTA Consultation

With the US government’s extremely concerning list of objectives for the upcoming NAFTA negotiations put forth yesterday by the US Trade Representative, BC FIPA has sent Minister Freeland and Global Affairs Canada our submission regarding the dangers facing our information and privacy rights in the coming NAFTA negotiations.

BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act has been identified as a trade barrier by the Americans, who are looking to eliminate domestic data storage laws. Our information and privacy rights must not become a bargaining chip in negotiations about trade in goods and services. Read our submission in full here.

We also have an article in Policy Options that further highlights the importance of protecting domestic data storage laws. You can read it here.

**UPDATE**

October 3, 2017

BC FIPA submitted a written submission to the Standing Committee on International Trade highlighting the importance of domestic data storage laws, and how they must be protected during the NAFTA renegotiations. See our submission in full here.

FIPA, BCCLA protest Elections BC ‘advertising’ guidelines

On February 1st, Elections BC released their “Handmade Election Advertising” bulletin in response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s judgement last Thursday which clarified Election BC’s previous erroneous interpretation of BC’s Election Act’s third party spending provisions.

The Bulletin is plainly and obviously inconsistent with the SCC Judgment in many respects. See our joint letter with the BC Civil Liberties Association here.