'Substantial increase' in access to information requests since 2015 says new N.L. privacy commissioner
Newfoundland and Labrador's new information and privacy commissioner says there's been a surge in access to information requests following new legislation introduced in 2015.
In an interview with the St. John's Morning Show, Donovan Molloy said the changes to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA) have made it easier for people to file requests.
Following the ATIPPA 2015 amendment, the government is now required to respond to access to information requests quickly and before the information becomes dated.
"It's my understanding that there's been a substantial increase in the number of requests since 2015," said Molloy.
"One public body that I dealt with last week asked for an extension because amongst other things they said they had more requests this fiscal year than they had in the previous three."
Molloy has been at the helm of office since July 22, and he said the changes and increased number of access to information requests have made the job more demanding for many in the office..
"It's a real struggle right now in terms of volume, keeping up with the number of requests."
"Because of the capacity to store large volumes of information electronically, then the requests are often quite broad as well."
Still reviewing office
After just over two weeks as privacy commissioner, Molloy said it's too soon to say if he will make any changes.
He did say however, that he plans to do more than just "call strikes and balls".
"There's a perception that if a commissioner or his office is calling you, there's something wrong," said Molloy.
"It doesn't have to be that way. We're a centre of excellence."
He said he plans to use his position as privacy commissioner to better position the office to the public.
"The commissioner in the office is also charged with educating the public about access to information and privacy issues, championing best practices," he said.
"There's a large number of things that have to be done outside of just dealing with matters where the public body is alleged to have improperly withheld information or is alleged to have breached someone's privacy."
With files from the St. John's Morning Show