BC FIPA letter to Senate Committee regarding Bill C-27 and quasi-governmental bodies – 17 May 2002

BC FIPA has sent a letter to Senator Nicholas W. Taylor, Chair of the Standing Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources regarding the creation of a quasi-governmental body if Bill C-27 is enacted.

BC FIPA is concerned that this body has significant power over decisions that affect the public, responsibility for enormous spending decisions, and as currently defined would be fundamentally unaccountable to Parliament or to the Canadian public. BC FIPA urges the Committee to propose an amendment to Bill C-27 that would extend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act to the Waste Management Organization.

BC FIPA believes that democracy is both degraded and diminished when large sectors of government authority are placed beyond the accountability and openness measures of these Acts.

Read the full letter (doc).

Privacy and Canada’s Health Information Highway – A presentation by BC FIPA to the Information and Privacy Conference in Victoria — 14 Feb 2002

BC FIPA believes the issue of HEALTH INFORMATION PRIVACY as the most significant privacy issue of our time. This presentation outlines the importance of the right to privacy and the threats that “Health Info-structure” represents.

Provincial governments appear to believe that the diminution of privacy rights is essential to the creation of the “Canadian Health Info-way”.

BC FIPA disagrees. We think Canadians can have privacy rights AND the highest quality health care system.

Download the full presentation (pdf).

BC FIPA publishes Declaration of Medical Privacy Rights

BC FIPA has published a Declaration of Medial Privacy Rights in light of the push towards electronic health records and electronic information management systems.

Declaration of Medical Privacy Rights

The Right to Privacy is a human right and is fundamental to my dignity as a human
being.

My right to privacy extends to all my personal health information, regardless of the
format in which it is recorded.

Any personal health record maintained on me by any health care provider is created through a special relationship, with the expectation that my information will remain confidential. The confidential nature of this relationship exists to safeguard and promote my physical and mental health. Any violation of this confidential relationship may adversely affect my health and is a violation of my right to privacy.

The right to privacy affirms my right to control access to and use of my personal health information. Any access or use without my consent is a violation of my right to privacy.

Fundamental to my right to privacy of health information is the right to:

a) be told why specific information is requested and if it will be part of a physical record,

b) know who will have access to any of my health information and for what purpose,

c) refuse access to all or portions of my information,

d) expect an audit trail that will identify who has accessed my health information,

e) expect my health information will be maintained in a secure environment that will prevent any unauthorized access,

f) request and receive an accurate and complete copy of my health records in a timely
fashion,

g) have corrected any factual error in the records. If there is a disagreement about the
accuracy of the records, it is my right to have the disputed information clearly identified and to append to the records what I believe to be the correct information,

h) expect the information will be retained for a length of time appropriate only to the primary reason for which it was obtained. Any retention beyond this length of time must be done with my consent, and

i) seek an effective remedy should any of these rights be violated.

Download the Declaration.

Open Letter Urges Premier to Honour Pledge to Provide Stable Funding for Information and Privacy Commissioner

The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association sent an
open letter today to Premier Gordon Campbell urging him to honor his committment to “open government” by rejecting a Finance Committee recommendation to cut 35 per cent from the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

On December 19th, the Legislature’s Finance Committee recommended drastic cuts to the offices of the Auditor General (15 per cent), Elections B.C. (45 per cent), Ombudsman (35 per cent), Child, Youth and Family Advocate (45 per cent), Police Complaint Commission (30 per cent), and Information and Privacy Commissioner (35 per cent).

FIPA’s letter states, “The relatively small amounts saved by cutting these budgets will mean vastly less government transparency and accountability, and inevitably more inefficiency, waste and improper conduct in public offices.”

“Cuts of this magnitude would completely destroy the government’s ‘New Era’ pledge to be ‘the most open, accountable and democratic government in Canada'”, said Darrell Evans, executive director of FIPA. “The exercise of power without sufficient scrutiny and accountability is a great danger for any government — and the danger is even greater in a province without an effective Official Opposition.”

FIPA is most concerned about possible cutbacks to the office of the
Information and Privacy Commissioner, whose budget of $2.4 million is already bare-bones following cutbacks made in 1998. The open letter points out that further cuts would fly in the face of a written commitment made to FIPA by the Premier to provide adequate funding for the Commissioner’s office.

In April 2001, FIPA sent a written question to then-Opposition Leader Gordon Campbell asking, “Do you favour reducing, keeping stable or increasing the funding for the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office?” Mr. Campbell’s response was, “Our commitment to open government means providing a stable funding base for the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s office to ensure that office has the resources it needs to discharge its statutory mandate.”

FIPA’s open letter states, “Reducing the budget of the Information and Privacy Commissioner as recommended by the Finance Committee can by no means be interpreted as providing a stable funding base for the office, and there is no question that it will deprive the Commissioner of the resources needed to discharge its statutory mandate…

“We ask that you consider the effect that less scrutiny and accountability could have on government officials, both elected and unelected. What tragedies, what boondoggles, what unfairness and waste will be made more likely in such a situation? We think that you should be hearing warning bells as you consider this committee’s report.”

FIPA is the organization that successfully campaigned to have the freedom of information (FOI) act passed in 1992, and launched the “Campaign for Open Government” to defend the FOI act from the threat of severe budget cuts by the Clark government in1998.

CONTACT: Darrell Evans, (604) 739-9788