EDMONTON, AB: Wildrose released a new report to improve transparency and accountability in a deteriorating and increasingly secretive Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) process under the NDP government.
The report Fixing Alberta’s Broken FOIP System was released by Wildrose Shadow Service Alberta Minister Scott Cyr and Wildrose Shadow Democracy & Accountability Minister Nathan Cooper.
Key recommendations from the report include:
- Ending chronic delays due to signoff by instituting presumptive signoff;
- Creating greater transparency through public reporting of FOIP response times by ministry in annual reports;
- Decentralizing the FOIP process by empowering ministries and ending Public Affairs Bureau, Service Alberta and Alberta Justice interference, and;
- Transitioning from a reactive disclosure system to an open data system.
“While in opposition, NDP MLAs decried the same principles that they now sign off on in government,” Cooper said. “Greater information sharing is in the best interests of all Albertans, and our FOIP system could drastically be improved by following these recommendations.”
National legal experts have chastised Alberta government practices as “contemptuous” and “cavalier.”
Alberta’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton recently stated that “access to information in Alberta is fast approaching a crisis situation.” In February Clayton said there is a “lack of respect for access to information” across the government.
“Holding the government to account is made more difficult by a FOIP process that rewards bureaucrats for obscuring information,” Wildrose Shadow Service Alberta Minister Scott Cyr said. “It must be a wakeup call to the NDP government when government managers are more focused on “publicly sham[ing] the Wildrose” than doing their job. This attitude is unacceptable in a supposedly non-partisan public service.”
- In 2012, 95 per cent of FOIP requests were responded to in 60 days.
- Last year, 82 per cent of FOIP requests were responded to in 60 days.
- A typical Wildrose FOIP request to Justice under the previous government was returned in four months. Under the NDP government it takes nearly nine months and usually has to be forced out by an order from the Privacy Commissioner.
- A typical Wildrose FOIP request to Environment under the previous government was returned in four months. Under the NDP government it takes eight months and usually has to be forced out by an order from the Privacy Commissioner.
- Alberta has less than half the FOIP volume that Manitoba does, yet Manitoba has a better 60-day response rate.