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 802 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 at fipa.bc.ca/poll.
It seems clear that British Columbians share FIPA’s position on these important FOI issues.
Poll results show that 96% 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, 84% think government officials who interfere with access to information rights should face penalties (with 12% stating they don’t know).
85% of respondents believe these reforms should be put into law before the next BC election in 2017.
On the topic of proactive disclosure of records, British Columbians were asked if the practice should be restricted to emergency situations, or if disclosure should take place whenever there is a public interest. This has been a contentious issue, and the BC Information and Privacy Commissioner recently clarified that the latter interpretation should be used. This is FIPA’s view as well—we outlined the specifics in a supplementary submission (prepared by Rebecca Kantwerg of the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre) to this year’s review of FIPPA—and we now know that it’s also the view of a majority of British Columbians (56% agreed with this view, and 13% said they don’t know).
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.