News Release: FIPA asks Information Commissioner to investigate BC Government conduct in Ministry of Health hearing

Government affidavits claimed an RCMP investigation was ongoing

VANCOUVER – The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (BC FIPA) has asked Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham to investigate the BC government’s claims that the RCMP had an active investigation into the 2012 firings at the Ministry of Health.

An Access to Information request filed by the Vancouver Sun revealed that the RCMP never actually investigated the firings that resulted from a Ministry of Health data breach, despite claims by the BC government that a criminal investigation was ongoing.

“BC FIPA made a Freedom of Information request related to this case, which resulted in an OIPC hearing in March 2014 and an Order issued in November 2014,” said BC FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “The BC government claimed the records could not be released because of an ongoing RCMP investigation. And now we know that there was no real RCMP investigation.”

At the hearing, the BC government submitted two affidavits stating there was an ongoing RCMP investigation into the circumstances in the case. The question of whether or not records responsive to a request by BC FIPA were covered by the law enforcement exception to release (s.15 of FIPPA) was the central point of contention in this hearing. Ultimately, the Adjudicator accepted the government’s evidence that an RCMP investigation was underway.

The documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show that the RCMP’s file on the case was closed on July 6, 2014 and the government was informed months before the Adjudicator released her decision.

“The failure to bring this important information to the attention of the Commissioner, whether deliberate or not, has the effect of undermining the FOI process”, said Gogolek. “I am disturbed that a central fact which directly contradicted the evidence provided under oath by two government officials in support of submissions by the government was not disclosed at any point during the months after the government became aware of it.”

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Contact:

Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
Email: Vincent (at) fipa.bc.ca
Phone: 604-739-9788

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