Freedom of Information and Privacy Association
She ended her letter to the minister with a call to action: "It is vital for open and accountable government that, whatever the form of the entity, if it is carrying on public business, it should be subject to the [Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]." Two and a half years later, there is still no sign of action from the government.
The ID Card, known as the BC Services Card, has been rolling out since February, and it combines both the drivers license and the provincial health care card, with lots more to come. If you are concerned about the implications for our privacy and our pocketbooks, you should definitely put your opinions to the consultation panel -- but hurry: the deadline for submissions is Nov. 27.
Delays and fees in Freedom of Information requests are reaching such ridiculous proportions that if you didn't laugh you'd cry. And worst of all, our various rulers are more than happy to continue blocking our information rights, seeming to believe they will have no price to pay. But there are a number of potential cracks in the wall of secrecy at both the federal and provincial levels.
The Harper government wants to hide all of its secrets. A Canadian Press reported noticed a troubling policy detail buried in the feds' legislative bulletin that would dramatically expand the number of current and former federal government employees under a lifetime gag order, potentially curbing the right to free expression of thousands of Canadians.
Over the last several months, the federal government has repeatedly thrown up the claim that theirs is "the most transparent government in Canadian history," even in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is categorically untrue. Even the practice of stomping on backbenchers who push for more transparency is nothing new for this government.
Information issues were smoking hot right up to the drop of the writ. But ever since, they've received hardly a mention. Looks like nobody wants to talk about the government's increasing unwillingness to create written records or its habit of sheltering public documents from FOI by hiding them in personal email accounts. Even multi-million dollar data linkage and information management programs like the Integrated Case Management (ICM) system, which has been slammed repeatedly by officers of the Legislature and civil society alike, don't rate a mention from the four major parties. This is pathetic.
Scheduled to roll out at the end of this month, the federal government's Web Renewal Action! Plan will change how government information is posted and archived online, and not for the better. It clearly outlines the intention to drastically cut the number of government websites available to Canadians. Even more worrisome is the fact it's also contemplating preserving only that which receives a suitable number of clicks. Because everyone knows the most important information is always the most popular.
Federal budget cuts will lead to the elimination of the Interlibrary Loan Department, which gives British Columbians access to national archival collections housed in Ottawa. Without this service, Canadians living and researching anywhere outside the capital region will have to physically visit those collections on their own dime -- a pricey pill that many simply can't afford to swallow.