Service NL Minister Paul Davis is criticizing a CBC News "fishing expedition" for restaurant inspection information — data that is free and easily accessible to the public elsewhere.
"[CBC] asked for all restaurant inspections for the month of January and February," Davis told the house of assembly Tuesday, during the opposition filibuster delaying the passage of Bill 29.
"All restaurant inspections. Now Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that in our province, there are over 6,000 establishments that have food establishment licences. Over 6,000."
CBC News paid $457 for those reports. But the government says fulfilling the request cost more than that.
In many other jurisdictions, however, getting that data wouldn’t have required a request to the government — restaurant inspection reports are automatically made public.
In Vancouver, the health department posts them on its website, allowing diners to find the most recent report for any restaurant in a couple of clicks.
In Toronto, it's simpler still — the city posts the report inside the restaurants.
CBC News used a prior information request to obtain records related to inspections at a St. John’s Swiss Chalet location that had shut down with no explanation.