BC FIPA presents submission to Alberta FOI and Privacy Review

BC FIPA presented its submission to the Alberta Legislative Standing Committee on Health review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA).

The submission consists of an extensive report prepared by journalist and researcher, Stanley L. Tromp. Based on a comparative analysis of FOI laws around the world it makes 79 recommendations for improvements to the Alberta FOIPPA.

Key recommendations include:

• Amend the Alberta Act to clarify that records created by or in the custody of a service-provider under contract to a public body are under the control of the public body on whose behalf the contractor provides services. As well, prescribe that all entities that perform public functions be covered by the Act.

• Delete Sec. 6 (4), and include ministers’ briefing books under the Act’s scope again.

• Amend the Act to mandate that when a department’s response falls into deemed refusal, it loses the right to collect fees (including application fees and any search, preparation, and photocopying charges).

• Change Sec. 22 from a mandatory exemption to a discretionary one, whereby deliberative records may be released if cabinet consents.

• Eliminate the $25 application free to file a FOIP Act request.

• The Alberta government should not proceed with any data sharing initiatives until a meaningful public consultation process has occurred, and the outcome of that process is an enforceable code of practice for data sharing programs.

• A positive duty to oblige officials to create and maintain records necessary to document their actions and decisions should be incorporated into the FOIP Act or other legislation.

• A harms test should be added to the FOIP Act exemptions for cabinet records, official advice, and legal advice.

• Amend Sec. 13(2) of the Act to require that public bodies provide electronic copies of records to applicants, where the records can reasonably be reproduced in electronic form

Read the full submission (pdf).