Vancouver City Hall under investigation over access to information practices

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. has confirmed it is investigating the City of Vancouver’s freedom of information practices.

City says it already has a 'robust and fully documented access to information process in place'

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaks in Vancouver on September 10, 2015. Vancouver City Hall is under investigation over its access to information practices, it has been confirmed. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. has confirmed it is investigating the City of Vancouver's access to information practices.

In an email to the CBC on Tuesday, Cara McGregor, OIPC Director of Communications, said the assessment was launched under its audit and compliance program.

The program was launched in 2014, to allow the OIPC to "assess the extent to which public bodies and private sector organizations comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA)."

Under the program charter, the OIPC may investigate a public body on the basis of:

  • complaints about privacy or Freedom of Information (FOI)
  • media reports citing concerns over FOI or privacy
  • consultation with FOI, privacy and security experts
  • following up on a previous assessment of the body 
  • the collection of substantial or sensitive personal information
  • seeking input into policy or legislation

'Robust process in place'

In an emailed statement, a City of Vancouver spokesperson said the city was informed of the investigation on Nov. 2 and expects it to begin in early 2016.

"The City has a robust and fully documented access to information process in place," said the statement.

"Nevertheless, we welcome the opportunity to participate in the OIPC's compliance review as we continue to look for ways to further improve our internal processes."

According to the statement, the city receives between 350 and 400 freedom of information requests every year and in 2015, it hired an extra FOI case manager to improve its ability to track and respond to those requests.

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