BC FIPA-sponsored poll shows massive support for key reforms to information law
VANCOUVER, February 1, 2016 – Polling results released today indicate British Columbians are overwhelmingly in favour of government officials having a ‘duty to document’, among other key reforms to access to information law.
The Ipsos poll, commissioned by the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA), shows 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.
FIPA commissioned the poll as part of a supplementary submission to the Special Committee conducting a statutory review of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).
In addition to the above topics, British Columbians were polled on their views on proactive disclosure of records in the public interest. They were asked whether the practice should be restricted to emergency situations, or whether disclosure should take place whenever there is a public interest—and found 56% in favour of the latter (13% said they don’t know).
“We hope the Special Committee and the BC Government listen to British Columbians, and get to work implementing these reforms as soon as possible,” said FIPA Executive Director Vincent Gogolek. “There is no doubt that British Columbians want to see a legal duty to document and penalties for interfering with access rights, and they want to see it before the next election.”
Vincent Gogolek, Executive Director
BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
firstname.lastname@example.org | (o) 604-739-9788 | (c) 604-318-0031
Ipsos posed the following four questions to 802 British Columbians on behalf of FIPA, and received the following 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 – 78%
• Somewhat important – 18%
• Not very important – 2%
• 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 – 84%
• No – 4%
• Don’t know – 12%
3. BC’s information and privacy law currently requires governments to release information even without a Freedom of Information request if it is in the public interest. Some people say this duty to release information without a request should only apply in emergency situations. Other people say this duty to release information should apply whenever there is a public interest in the information. Which of these is closest to your view as to when this duty to release information should apply?
• Only in emergency situations – 30%
• Whenever there is a public interest – 56%
• Don’t know – 13%
4. A number of experts (including BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner) have called for changes to the law to include both a legal duty to document and penalties for those who interfere with information rights. How important do you think it is that these reforms to the information and privacy law be passed before the next BC election (in 2017)?
• Very important – 48%
• Somewhat important – 37%
• Not very important – 4%
• Not at all important – 1%
• Don’t know – 10%
More information, including shareable images, can be found at https://fipa.bc.ca/poll.