Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Minister Amrik Virk made the following statement in response to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner’s latest Report.
“On behalf of the Government of British Columbia, I would like to thank the information and privacy commissioner for the report.
“All government employees have a responsibility to ensure they are properly responding to freedom of information requests. The commissioner has made a number of important findings that we take seriously and government is committed to acting on her recommendations.
“At the direction of the Premier, I have asked the former B.C. information and privacy commissioner David Loukidelis to advise government on how to address the recommendations. Mr. Loukidelis will also provide advice and direction on how we can enhance freedom of information training for staff.
“Government is already addressing a number of the recommendations. This includes the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s agreement to provide the additional 36 pages of information and the Ministry of Advanced Education’s commitment to provide the requested 20 email records. Both information releases will be in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“We intend to address outstanding recommendations as swiftly as possible. For example, the Office of the Premier has confirmed they will strengthen their process of documenting and tracking freedom of information requests. The office will also assign responsibility for freedom of information co-ordination to the deputy minister’s office. A number of other recommendations that require both policy and operational considerations will require more time for review.
“Two of the commissioner’s recommendations also involve changes to existing legislation. Government will refer these recommendations to the all-party special committee reviewing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This referral will include a request to look at the practices of other provinces and jurisdictions.
“Aspects of the report touch on personnel and legal matters. Given our obligations to protect the privacy of employees and respect for due process, we will not be commenting on these elements.
“Earlier this year government passed the Information Management Act and created a chief records officer. This position helps ensure the retention and management of important government records so they are available for operational use and for freedom of information requests.
“Our government remains committed to being as open and transparent as possible. Over the last five years government has responded to over 43,000 freedom of information requests. Government also has almost 1 million boxes of securely stored records in its possession and an additional 40,000 boxes are added per year.”