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Posted: February 27, 2018

Have a say on how to improve Freedom of Information

A new public engagement website provides the people of B.C. with an opportunity to provide input on ways to improve how Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and privacy protection operate in B.C., Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims announced Feb 26.

“During my time as minister, we have been meeting with stakeholders, executive staff and the acting information and privacy commissioner. Now we want to hear your ideas on how government can improve access to information and continue to maintain rigorous protections of your personal information,” Sims said. “Making meaningful improvements to the way British Columbians access their information is something we want to get right, and now it’s your turn to help guide this process.”

As part of its work to improve public accountability, the B.C. government has launched public consultations on access to information and privacy protection. Members of the public can learn more about the freedom of information and privacy protection process as they participate in this next phase of stakeholder engagement by visiting the govTogetherBC website.

British Columbians are being asked to participate in online discussions and provide written feedback on topics related to privacy and access to information, including what records should be released without an FOI request, timelines for responding to access requests and fees that can be charged, and what should happen when your privacy is breached. There will also be opportunities to learn more about how FOI and privacy work in B.C. and elsewhere in the world.

Submissions will be reviewed by government and the Minister of Citizens’ Services to help shape improvements to policy and legislation, a ministry press release stated.

“If you are someone who is interested in these critical government services, I want to hear your ideas,” said Sims. “The engagement website will be updated regularly, so be sure to keep checking back for new topics and new opportunities to submit your thoughts.”

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) covers approximately 2,900 public bodies in British Columbia and helps to ensure your personal information is protected.

Reviewing the legislation, policies and processes is necessary to ensure British Columbians have a government that is both transparent and open. As technology evolves, updates to FOIPPA help the province to maintain protections for British Columbians’ personal information, the ministry said.

British Columbians will be able to participate until the engagement closes on April 9.

FOIPPA gives any person the right to access records of a public body, including their own personal information, as long as they request the information in accordance with the act’s provisions.

It also allows ministries and public bodies to make information available by other mechanisms, so that British Columbians can engage meaningfully with government on the topics that interest them.

FOIPPA specifies requirements for how public bodies must collect, use and disclose personal information.

British Columbia receives a high volume of FOI requests. Between 9,000 and 10,000 are processed by government each year. These requests continue to grow in number, size and complexity.

In addition to public consultations, British Columbia has continued its work to consult stakeholders and public bodies that could be affected by changes to FOI and privacy rules, policies or legislation.


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