We have a new addition to our Board of Directors!

We are pleased to introduce Nazli Jelveh as the newest member of FIPA’s Board of Directors.

After completing her undergraduate studies in mathematics, she attended Osgoode Hall Law School and obtained her JD in 2018. Currently, she works as an articling law student at a boutique law firm in downtown Vancouver and will soon be called to the bar of BC.

Join us in giving a warm welcome to Nazli!

A step towards accountability

Media Release

A small step towards open and transparent government

Vancouver, February 5, 2019 – The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is pleased with the recommendations made by the province’s top watchdogs to bring the Legislative Assembly of B.C. under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Signed by Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, Merit Commissioner Fiona Spencer, and Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, the recommendations called for the Legislature to “meet the same standards” that 2,900 other provincial public bodies are subject to. 

While opening the Legislature to freedom of information rules is a welcome sight, the move is ultimately just one of the steps to a full reform that FIPA has been calling for in the past two decades. “This is just one little piece of the puzzle and there’s a whole lot of reform that we’re trying to get,” says Executive Director Sara Neuert. “We continue to be in reactionary mode and we need to move a step further and be proactive.”

These recommendations will only act to prevent the exact same scandal from repeating itself, more effective change would address a broader scale of freedom of information reform.

The Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) drafted in May of 2016 has made calls for a comprehensive reform, which would include the enactment of a Duty to Document, penalties for interference, and addressing the exceptions and loopholes that can be routinely exploited during any FOI proceedings.

These comprehensive reforms are the only measures that will provide government transparency and establish a system of accountability that will prevent future government scandals from occurring.

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

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Scandal at Legislative Assembly demonstrates need for Law Reform

Media Release

Scandal at Legislative Assembly demonstrates need for Law Reform

Vancouver, January 24, 2019 – The need for reforming British Columbia’s outdated Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) is evidenced by the recent scandal concerning misconduct and lack of oversight at B.C.’s Legislative Assembly.

Allegations made by house speaker Darryl Plecas reflect the ‘black holes’ that exist in the transparency of government bodies, such as the legislature and office of the parliamentarians.

“The Legislative Assembly is outside the jurisdiction of freedom of information requests,” says Sara Neuert, executive director of BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. “It’s a shortcoming of government transparency and accountability. We would have learned of this sooner had we been able to place legislature offices under scrutiny.”

Sweeping amendments to the FIPPA have been repeatedly put forward by FIPA over the past 15-years. Recommendations for change were also presented in the last Special Legislative Committee report published in May 2016 – echoing the calls for additions such as mandating a ‘duty to document’ and administering real repercussions to government officials who impede the FOI process. So far, the current government has made several commitments to advancing reform, though steps leading towards actual change have yet to arrive.

Bringing legislature offices under the dominion of FOI laws is not an impossibility and can be enacted rather swiftly. While doing so would be a welcome step towards modernizing the province’s FOI laws, it would ultimately be just a step. What the province truly needs – and has needed for years – are comprehensive reforms, only then can the government be held accountable by the taxpaying public. 

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

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Digital Transformation submission and Whistleblower Report

WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT & NATIONAL DIGITAL AND DATA SUBMISSION

FIPA PROVIDES FEEDBACK ON THE NEW PIDA AND TO CANADA’S DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY

Over the past few months, Dr. Carroll Boydell has been working on a BC FIPA research project comparing provincial and federal whistleblower legislation to international best practices. During the course of her research, she uncovered several best practices that are absent from existing legislation that would better protect whistleblowers and their families.

“Though protections exist for whistleblowers in Canada and the new BC legislation includes a number of best practice guidelines, the report uncovers several things that are overlooked by the patchwork of legislation that exists to protect whistleblowers today,” says Dr. Boydell. “It would be nice to see some of the best practices put forward in this paper be adopted by legislators, and for procedures currently being developed as a result of the BC legislation to incorporate any best practices not explicitly addressed in the legislation.”

The resulting paper from that research project will soon be published and available on our website.

In addition, Canada’s department for Innovation, Science, and Economic Development solicited feedback on their national digital and data strategy through roundtable discussions over the last few months. Although FIPA was not formally invited to participate in the roundtables, which were purported to be inclusive of civil society groups, we were able to make a submission during the consultation process.

Prepared by Samantha Delechantos, the submission compares data protection regulations in the European Union, through the General Data Protection Regulations, to Canada’s current data privacy framework. From this analysis, the author is able to make several recommendations on behalf of FIPA that will act to better protect the privacy of Canadians.

That submission will also soon be available on our website.