BC’s Freedom of Information Act is in dire need of updating and strengthening. A formal review of the act completed in 2004 should have yielded improvements, but the government has taken a puzzling detour.
A Special Committee of the Legislature conducted a comprehensive review of the FOI act in 2004 and submitted a report with detailed recommendations for reforms. After more than a year of inaction on the report, the government has sidelined the work of the Special Committee and handed the task over to a consultant who will advise them on what changes need to be made to the act.
FIPA can only conclude that the new review has been launched as a way of avoiding the recommendations of the special committee. Our intelligence suggests the review was lobbied for by bureaucrats who are hostile to the FOI act and who are trying to do an end run around the committee.
FIPA is urging the government to get things back on track and implement the recommendations of the special committee.
Articles on this topic:
Les Leyne, the Victoria Times Colonist
Russ Francis, the Georgia Straight
Mike Smyth, The Province
Government committee recommends enhanced access to records and improved privacy protection
May 20, 2004
FIPA is applauding the final report of the Special Committee of the BC Legislature that has completed a six-year review of the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The committee’s report provides the Liberal government with a clear signal of the direction it should take to improve FOI and privacy rights in BC. FIPA has urged the Hon. Joyce Murray, the Minister responsible for the FOI and privacy act, to act on the committee’s recommendations as soon as possible by introducing legislation to amend the act.
The special committee’s report, ENHANCING THE PROVINCE’S PUBLIC SECTOR ACCESS AND PRIVACY LAW, makes 26 recommendations to improve each of the 6 parts of the act. Its proposals for legislative change include:
- promoting a culture of openness to enhance the accountability of public bodies;
- encouraging the 2,200 public bodies covered by the act to use privacy-enhancing technologies to protect personal information;
- strengthening the powers of the independent Information and Privacy Commissioner; and
- requiring that more government records be made available on a routine basis.
Website of the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Read the committee’s full report, “Enhancing the Province’s Public Sector Access and Privacy Law”
FIPA Reports and Submissions
WATCHDOG GROUPS GIVE BC GOVERNMENT A FAILING GRADE ON FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
News release, May 2005
OPEN GOVERNMENT: BC LIBERALS PROMISE MUCH, DELIVER LITTLE
FIPA grades the performance of the Liberal administration on Freedom of Information issues, 2001-2004
PROPOSED REFORMS OF BC’S FREEDOM OF INFORMATION AND PROTECTION OF PRIVACY ACT – FIPA, August, 2005
A PRESCRIPTION FOR “DR. DOE” – 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 – January 19, 2004