A new report from a group representing national media outlets gives Alberta's PC government dismal marks for transparency.

Premier Alison Redford's government earned a "D" score for its level of openness from Newspapers Canada, a joint initiative of the Canadian Newspaper Association and the Canadian Community Newspapers Association.

Opposition parties said the poor grade from Newspaper Canada's annual Freedom of Information Audit backs up what the parties claimed for a long time about the Alberta government's willingness to disclose information.

"Clearly this government has already decided that it's not going to be open and transparent," said Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle, adding she wasn't surprised by the low score.

Allegations of widespread illegal donations made to benefit the Conservative party as well as political patronage are among recent examples of a poor record on transparency, Towle said.

'Waste of money'

"We can't find out who made illegal donations, we can't get any background behind patronage postings, and more and more often, even when they fulfil an FOI [Freedom of Information] request, they redact the information within it and so make it more and more difficult for Albertans to find that information," she said.

NDP Leader Brian Mason said that Redford's pledge to establish an associate ministry for accountability, transparency and transformation was "a waste of money" and would do little to improve transparency.

"You don't need a bureaucracy to be open and honest," Mason said. "The fact that they had to resort to something like that to create a ministry just tells you how big a problem they really have. Why don't they just tell people, to let the public know what's going on?"

An official in the premier's office said Redford's willingness to create the new associate ministry proves she's dedicated to improving government transparency.