A step towards accountability

Media Release

A small step towards open and transparent government

Vancouver, February 5, 2019 – The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association is pleased with the recommendations made by the province’s top watchdogs to bring the Legislative Assembly of B.C. under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Signed by Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy, Merit Commissioner Fiona Spencer, and Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, the recommendations called for the Legislature to “meet the same standards” that 2,900 other provincial public bodies are subject to. 

While opening the Legislature to freedom of information rules is a welcome sight, the move is ultimately just one of the steps to a full reform that FIPA has been calling for in the past two decades. “This is just one little piece of the puzzle and there’s a whole lot of reform that we’re trying to get,” says Executive Director Sara Neuert. “We continue to be in reactionary mode and we need to move a step further and be proactive.”

These recommendations will only act to prevent the exact same scandal from repeating itself, more effective change would address a broader scale of freedom of information reform.

The Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) drafted in May of 2016 has made calls for a comprehensive reform, which would include the enactment of a Duty to Document, penalties for interference, and addressing the exceptions and loopholes that can be routinely exploited during any FOI proceedings.

These comprehensive reforms are the only measures that will provide government transparency and establish a system of accountability that will prevent future government scandals from occurring.

Contact:

Sara Neuert, Executive Director

BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

Email: fipa (at) fipa.bc.ca

Phone: 604-739-9788

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BC FIPA and BCCLA file joint submission on proposed amendments to FIPPA

BC FIPA and the BCCLA have sent their comments on proposed amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). In line with BC FIPA’s commitment with transparency, these comments were submitted in lieu of confidential participation in the consultation process. The Ministry of Labour, Citizens’ Services, and Open Government is proposing multiple amendments to FIPPA in preparation for their plan to build a centralized system for storing and collecting information from various departments and ministries involved in the provision of services to citizens.

FIPA and BCCLA are fundamentally in disagreement with most of the amendments included in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2011, pursuant to which the amendments to the regulation are being considered.

The bulk of these amendments were passed in order to provide enabling legislation for programs that will collect, use and disclose British Columbians’ personal information on a vast and unprecedented scale in the name of providing “citizen-centered services”. In our view, the program as currently envisioned trades citizens’essential privacy rights for administrative efficiency and will move the province closer than any other in Canada to being the “surveillance state” that privacy commissioners across Canada and around the world have warned about.

Read the full submission (pdf).