HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s government is launching a review of its freedom of information legislation after years of criticism that the current system results in blacked-out government documents and a toothless review process.
Justice Minister Brad Johns says an internal committee led by the department’s director of policy will look at the law, which also protects personal privacy.
The committee will present options to Johns on how to modernize the legislation, and the public will be given until Nov. 30 to make submissions.
In 2017, the province’s privacy commissioner said her office’s requests to release documents were frequently refused by provincial agencies.
Catherine Tully said applicants waited years for her office to review decisions denying information requests, and were forced into costly court appeals.
She recommended that her office be given order-making powers and that governments be required to appeal her decisions before the courts, rather than simply rejecting them.
Those recommendations were repeated in successive annual reports by Tully and by her successor, Tricia Ralph, but both Liberal and the current Progressive Conservative governments have yet to bring in the reforms suggested.
In her report last year, Ralph noted that in the 2022-23 fiscal year, public bodies accepted 48 per cent of her recommendations, down from 74 per cent the year before — calling the trend “unfortunate.”
The internal committee of the Justice Department will also present options to Johns on how to modernize the Privacy Review Officer Act and the Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.