Previous B.C. Government scolded for late responses to FOI requests
Information and Privacy Commissioner found government failed to meet timelines 20 per cent of the time
British Columbia's Information and Privacy Commissioner is expressing "disappointment" at the previous provincial government's consistent delays in responding to Freedom of Information Requests.
Acting Commissioner Drew McArthur says a report done by his office found that between April 1, 2015 and March 31, 2017 the government failed to meet legislated timelines at least 20 per cent of the time.
"What we found is the government is non-compliant with the requirements of the Freedom of Information and protection of Privacy Act," said McArthur.
"If those requests aren't processed in a timely matter then people don't have access to that information and their democratic rights are not being fulfilled."
The province is legally required to deal with access requests within 30 business days of receiving them.
But government officials can ask for time extensions for various reasons including how much time it will take to gather the information requested.
The commissioner's staff looked at 194 randomly selected access to information files across government to identify where delays commonly occur in processing requests.
The report also put forward eight separate recommendations.
"The first recommendation says that the government needs to do whatever it takes to be 100 per cent compliant. If they do that the other seven recommendations are covered," said McArthur.
Over the past two years the number of information requests sent to the government has gone up, but so has the amount of information preemptively being posted on the government's open website.
The report also found that the request for time extensions to fulfil the information request has gone up 75 per cent. McArthur says a change in government provides an opportunity to address the waits.
"I am hoping the new government takes the opportunity to prioritize this work across all ministries so that the people who are doing the work and processing FOI requests are properly supported," said McArthur.