In the spring 2023 sitting of the legislature, Premier Eby and Minister of Housing Ravi Khalon spoke in detail about the release of the forensic investigation into B.C. Housing. This report was conducted in response to one of the major scandals to emerge under this government. Specifically, the Minister and the Premier described the issue as rising to a level of such public interest that the report’s release warranted using section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of a Privacy Act to make it available to the public. As they noted, this was the first time section 25 had been used in this way in the 30-year history of freedom of information in this province.
How did Government Communications and Public Engagement, Office of the Premier, Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Attorney General, Ministry of Citizens’ Services, and B.C. Housing administer the first use of section 25 in this context?
Correspondence, briefing notes, decision notes, information notes, issues notes, presentations, agreements, forms, reports, and copies of final, sui generis, non-transitory, topical records regarding the preparation of the report of the forensic investigation of BC Housing from the Office of the Comptroller General for release to the public, as referenced in the following press release (and elsewhere): https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0020-000384 Date range: Five requests for 2022.01.01-2022.05.08 and one for 2022.01.01-2022.05.26.
To make these request cost $60. On May 30, one of the recipient public bodies, the Ministry of Attorney General, presented FIPA with a fee estimate in the amount of $1,792.50 for searching and preparing records for release.
Premier Eby’s government claims to be increasing transparency by using section 25 to release a report on an issue they claim is in the public interest. At the same time, they are putting in place a paywall which prevents release of information related to the report.
Fees for large record volumes like this are permitted under the law but are discretionary. There is no statutory requirement to charge these fees, and the ministry would be well within its authority to waive them proactively given the Premier has identified that the issue is a matter of substantial public interest.
You can read our release on this research here: https://fipa.bc.ca/s-25-public-interest-paywall/
As of June 12, 2023 we have received:
The following bills:
FIPA is requesting a fee waiver to the public bodies.
Please donate to help us pay the bill and get to the public what the Premier is trying to hide.
This is post is a result of our access assessment research. We are getting meta with FOI, by using access requests to inform our research about access rights.
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