Government committee recommends enhanced access to records and improved privacy protection

FIPA is applauding the final report of a 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, “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.

“The committee’s recommendations will enhance the working of the act for all British Columbians,” said the committee chair, MLA Blair Lekstrom. “The report also clearly confirms that the public has the right to expect that their FOI requests will be treated equally, impartially and in a timely manner by public bodies.”

“We believe that openness is the proper way for government to conduct the public’s business,” added the deputy chair, MLA Mike Hunter. “Therefore, our report recommends that more government information be routinely disclosed so that the records of public bodies are open to public scrutiny, subject only to necessary exceptions.”

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.

Full news release
Final Report

BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner decries public servants’ proposals to weaken the Freedom of Information & Privacy Act

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner David Loukidelis has sent a letter to the BC government decrying proposals for changes to the FOI and privacy act that would “undermine the openness and accountability the government has promised.”

The letter was sent to a Special Committee of the Legislature that is conducting a review of the Act. It fires a broadside against a set of proposals submitted by public servants who are chafing under the Act’s requirements to disclose information to the public.

The letter may be viewed on the Commissioner’s website

See also under “Current Activities” on home page:
CAMPAIGN for Improvements to BC’s FOI and Privacy Act

Information Commissioner proposes major reforms to BC’s FOI and privacy act

BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner has presented a sweeping vision for reform of the provinces’ Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to a special committee of the Legislature which is conducting a review of the act.

The submission proposes that public bodies be required to implement schemes for routine disclosure of a lot more of their vast stores of public information. It also proposes that government programs be measured against a “Privacy Charter of Rights” to determine if they go too far in invading the privacy of citizens.

See the Commissioner’s submission

Action Alert: BC Legislature committee begins second review of FOI and privacy act

A special committee of the B.C. Legislature is conducting the second formal review of the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act. The submissions made to this committee, and its report to the Legislature, will be a major influence on the Liberal government’s future approach to FOI and privacy.

Once again, the question is: will the government strengthen FOI and privacy rights or weaken them? Pressure to weaken critical parts of the Act has already begun (See below). FIPA is urging supporters of FOI and privacy to take this opportunity to make their voices heard.

The committee has conducted several public hearings and is accepting written submissions. THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS FEBRUARY 27, 2004.

To obtain more information, call the Clerk of Committees at 1-877-428-8337.

Website of the Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Records of meetings of the Committee (previous legislative session)
FOIPPA review hot topics

EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SCRUTINY A REMEDY FOR SCANDAL
Vancouver Sun editorial
March 4, 2004

WAIVE FOI LAW FOR US, SAY POLICE
A dozen B.C. police agencies — including the Vancouver Police Department — are lobbying to be exempted from freedom-of-information laws.
SECRET POLICE: COPS HAVE BIZARRE VIEW OF FOI
By Russ Francis
Monday Magazine

SUBMISSION OF THE INFORMATION AND PRIVACY COMMISSIONER

FIPA reports and submissions:

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 (Information and Privacy Commissioner)
January 19, 2004

Key Recommendations for Reform of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, January 15, 2003

Reform of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – Submission to the Hon. Sandy Santori, Minister of Management services, July 2, 2002

Other reports

Report of the [1998-1999] Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act, July 15, 1999