Alberta environment department to remain under document shredding ban

A moratorium on shredding government documents remains in place for the department of Environment and Parks, Premier Rachel Notley confirmed Friday.

Shredding moratorium was lifted on other departments in July, Premier Notley says

The Ministry of Environment is under a records management moratorium on document shredding. The Alberta premier also said the privacy commission recommendations will improve handing of documents. 1:43

A moratorium on shredding government documents remains in place for the department of Environment and Parks, Premier Rachel Notley confirmed Friday.

Speaking from a news conference in Winnipeg Friday, the premier said the stop shredding order was retained since it was ordered shortly after the provincial election on May 5.

That was pending the outcome of a joint investigation into shredding by two public watchdog agencies, the privacy commissioner and public interest commissioner.

"Now what we'll be looking at is how do we take the practices that are in place in other ministries and how do we incorporate into the recommendations from the commissioners' reports," said Notley, who ordered shredding to be stopped across all government departments on May 13.

The unprecedented order to stop shredding came just hours after an investigation was launched into allegations of improper document destruction by Alberta Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton and Public Interest Commissioner Peter Hourihan.  

Shredding Alberta government documents overall when necessary resumed July 13, 2015. But that did not apply to the department of Environment and Parks.

Notley said shredding won't resume in that department until she's satisfied documents are being properly handled.

"And then once those are clearly in place, and we're confident that they're being acted on, then the moratorium will be lifted," Notley said.

The investigation report released Thursday by the commissioners concluded there were troubling findings over how records were managed. But there was no evidence sensitive government records were destroyed to avoid disclosure through access to information requests, the report said.

The shredding of 344 boxes containing confidential ministerial briefing papers occurred the day after an historic provincial election that saw the four-decade-long dynasty of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party replaced by the Alberta NDP.

The investigation was sparked by an anonymous whistleblower complaint to Hourihan alleging documents were being improperly destroyed by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ERSD).

Greg Clark, Alberta Party MLA for Calgary-Elbow, filed an official complaint about documents in the environment department being shredded before the NDP government was even sworn in.

Notley said her government has made improvements to the record handling system, including better staff training. She said all 16 recommendations made by the investigation will be implemented.


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