Special Committee releases review of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act

FIPA urges the BC government to quickly implement key recommendations

VANCOUVER, May 11, 2016 – The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is pleased to see that the Special Committee’s Review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) has issued strong recommendations in a number of key areas, calling for a duty to document and stronger penalties.

“The report comes at a time when there is a crisis of confidence in terms of freedom of information in this province,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “The BC government is under a pall of suspicion after the Triple Delete scandal, and it has to act quickly on the committee’s recommendations to lift that cloud.”

FIPA strongly supports the Committee’s recommendation of a legislative “duty to document” to ensure that government records are created and maintained. The culture of “oral government”, where officials choose not to record sensitive information or delete it as soon as possible, was the subject of a blistering report from the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner which focused on the recent Triple Delete scandal.

FIPA also supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Commissioner be given the power to impose penalties when government officials intentionally interfere with information rights. Seven provinces and territories, plus the Canadian government, already have legal penalties for type of activity.

FIPA is disappointed, however, that the penalties recommended by the Committee are significantly lower than recommended by the Commissioner – $10,000 rather than $50,000, and no jail time.

A recent Ipsos poll commissioned by FIPA as part of a supplementary submission to the Special Committee shows that the public is strongly in favour of these recommendations. The poll showed that 78% of British Columbians believe it is very important that government officials be legally required to keep accurate, complete records of what they do on the job and 84% think government officials who interfere with access to information rights should face penalties.

“We now have the Special Committee and the public telling the BC Government that the system needs fixing,” said Gogolek. “This government needs to legislate a duty to document and penalties for interfering with access rights.”

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For interviews with FIPA, please contact:

Lindsey Bertrand, Program Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
fipa@fipa.bc.ca | (o) 604-739-9788