FIPA congratulates new Cabinet ministers, reinforces importance of strong information and privacy system

VANCOUVER, November 4, 2015 – The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) congratulates members of the new Cabinet named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and calls on them to advance and protect Canadians’ access to information and privacy rights.

“FIPA welcomes our new Cabinet Ministers, and calls on them to work to repair Canada’s broken access and privacy systems,” says FIPA President Michael Markwick. “Our democracy depends on the ability of citizens to access and scrutinize government information. Our civil liberties are, to a great degree, underlined by our right to control our personal privacy. We hope this new government will recognize the importance of these rights, and work to advance and protect them.”

FIPA calls on the new Ministers to strengthen Canadians’ access to public information and ability to control their private information:

  • Repeal all blanket exclusions from the Access to Information Act. Exceptions should only prevent harm to legitimate interests set out in the Act, and be subject to an override when disclosure is in the overall public interest. This includes ensuring the Act applies to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.
  • Give order-making powers to the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner.
  • Mandate (and provide resources for) the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Information Commissioner to develop an effective public education function to promote privacy and information rights.
  • Make public data open by default. Require public officials to document and preserve records of their communications and decision-making, and release it in accessible, easy-to-use formats. Ensure all records can be obtained by eliminating exorbitant access fees.
  • Ensure any new privacy-impacting laws, policies or practices are subjected to tests of necessity, effectiveness and proportionality.
  • Amend PIPEDA to address trans-border data flows of personal information, privacy implications of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), workplace privacy, and the challenges of new privacy-impacting technologies like Connected Cars.
  • Undertake a full legislative review of the Access to Information Act every five years.

Finally, but importantly, as the Liberal government prepares to reform the deeply problematic Anti-terrorism Act (Bill C-51), FIPA asks that the points made in its submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security be strongly considered. Further, the government should conduct a comprehensive, non-partisan review of all of Canada’s anti-terrorism and security measures.

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For interviews with FIPA President Michael Markwick, please contact:

Lindsey Bertrand, Program Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
lindsey@fipa.bc.ca | 604-739-9788