High praise for province's new access to information legislation from Centre for Law and Democracy
Centre says new legislation will improve province's ranking to 15th
The Centre for Law and Democracy has praised Newfoundland and Labrador's amended Right to Information legislation, saying the province has done "a major about-face" and has taken "bold steps" to improve the law.
In a statement, CLD Executive Director Toby Mendel stated that government said they wanted "a strong RTI law by international standards and these reforms, if adopted, would deliver that and put Newfoundland and Labrador head and shoulders above other Canadian jurisdictions."
The CLD said the new legislation will improve the province's ranking to 15th, compared to national laws globally when measured using the RTI Rating.
Previously the province was languishing in 38th place.
In 2012, the province faced a public outcry when they introduced Bill 29 — new access to information laws. Many criticized the new legislation for excessive secrecy.
According to the Centre, the improvements put forward by the committee will put Newfoundland and Labrador far ahead of any other province in the country.
Today, British Columbia is the strongest, ranking 32nd.
"We urge the government to adopt the proposals and show the rest of the country that serious reform in this area is not only possible but a democratic imperative," said Mendel.
... a strong RTI law by international standards and these reforms, if adopted, would deliver that and put Newfoundland and Labrador head and shoulders above other Canadian jurisdictions.- Toby Mendel, Centre for Law and Democracy
According to CLD, some of the highlights of the province's new right to information legislation include elimination of requesting fees, a sharp reduction in fees for access, tighter timelines for responding to requests and an expanded mandate and powers for the oversight body, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.
The Centre said they provided the review committee with extensive comments and many of the proposed reforms are in line with CLD's recommendations.
The CLD also pointed out that Canada's federal law ranks a "dismal" 58th place.