The results are in! Poll shows BC wants a stronger FOI system


..And 97% think it is either “somewhat” or “very” important to have this duty to document. Find more images below.

..And 97% think it is either “somewhat” or “very” important to have this duty to document. Find more images below.

FIPA recently commissioned some public opinion polling on BC’s freedom of information system. We worked with Ipsos, a leading independent market research company, to develop and pose four questions related to some of our key recommendations to the Special Committee reviewing BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

A total of 803 people in BC shared their thoughts on duty to document, penalties for interfering with access rights, proactive disclosure, and a timeline for implementing key reforms. You can check out the full questions, answers, and results below.

It seems clear that British Columbians share FIPA’s position on the above issues in freedom of information law:

Poll results show that 97% of British Columbians believe it is important that government officials be legally required to keep accurate, complete records of what they do on the job.

Further, 85% think government officials who interfere with access to information rights should face penalties (with 12% stating they don’t know).

84% of respondents believe these reforms should be put into law before the next BC election.

On the topic of education subsidiaries, British Columbians were polled on their views on a loophole that leaves school boards, colleges and universities outside of BC’s Freedom of Information law. 87% of respondents said it was important that these education subsidiaries be covered by FOI laws.

We hope the Special Committee and the BC Government take heed of British Columbians’ views, and get to work implementing the recommended reforms as soon as possible.

We’re also glad that so many people were able to share their opinions on information rights – but we do still have a ways to go to ensure all British Columbians are informed about their access to information system. Help spread the word by sharing this post:

FIPAPoll_ByNextElection FIPAPoll_Penalties FIPAPoll_PublicInterest

Here are the full questions and their responses:

1. In your opinion, how important is it that provincial government officials are legally required to keep accurate and complete records of what they do on the job?

• Very important – 81%
• Somewhat important – 17%
• Not very important – 1%
• Not at all important – <1%
• Don’t know – 2%

2. BC’s information and privacy law currently does not have penalties for interfering with information access rights. Many other Canadian jurisdictions do have such penalties. Should government officials who interfere with access to information rights face penalties?

• Yes – 85%
• No – 3%
• Don’t know – 12%

3. BC’s information and privacy law currently covers subsidiaries of municipal governments, but not those of school boards, colleges and universities. This means these education subsidiaries are not subject to freedom of information requests. How important do you think it is that these education subsidiaries be covered by Freedom of Information laws?

• Very important – 53%
• Somewhat important – 33%
• Not very important – 4%
• Not at all important – 1%
• Don’t know – 8%

4. BC’s new provincial government has made a number of commitments about changes they would make to BC’s information and privacy law, but has yet to announce any new initiatives. How important do you think it is that the government bring in reforms to the information and privacy law before the next BC election?

• Very important – 47%
• Somewhat important – 38%
• Not very important – 7%
• Not at all important – 1%
• Don’t know – 8%

These responses, as well as breakdowns by gender, education, age group, region, income, and household composition, can be downloaded here. The Ipsos Factum can be found here.