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.