Wednesday , June 29 2022

Alberta's information commissioner says his office is a break point & # 39;


Alberta's information and privacy commissioner says that her office fails to serve Albertans appropriately as she is struggling with increasing resource issues and workload.

In an interview with CBS's Commissioner for News, Privacy and Information, Jill Clayton said that her office had been difficult over recent years because of a "steady increase" in the number of complaints about freedom of information, especially including ministries & 39; r government.

"I believe it is crucial that the government's public bodies are a resource of this function sufficient – the access to information, the FOIP function in their ministries. And I think that that has been neglected for some time."

Clayton warned a legislature committee a year ago that her office could not stick to the demand for her services. On November 30, Clayton told the same committee that the workload now is unlikely.

"With more case series increasing last year, I believe we have reached our official cutting point, and despite the improvement and review of ongoing processes and streamlining some types of cases where it is; possible we can not continue with the volume, "he said.

"I've been on the record in a number of public forums saying, basically, at this stage we are moving the deckchairs on the Titanic," Clayton said to the committee.

Sean Holman, a journalist professor at the Royal Royal High School in Calgary, when the NDP objected, complained about the confidentiality of government and the problem created in holding the government accountable.

"And now, after gaining power, they have done nothing to make the government less confidential. And that only shows the corruption of the system," said Holman, who writes a book about history access to information in Canada.

The Minister of Service, Alberta, Brian Malkinson, whose ministry oversees PGS, was not available for interview.

Political parties, news media and advocacy groups often make requests for freedom of information under the provincial law to access internal records that can be responsible for holding the government accountable by revealing suspicious or corrupt practices.

Clayton's office is making public complaints about processing those FOP applications, as well as breaking health and other privacy information. He reports directly to the legislature and is considered independently politically.

Clayton told CBS News that she found it difficult to hold timely FOIP reviews because the information was corrected from documents, and challenges in obtaining records of ministries.

& Surely only sustainable & # 39;

At the interview, Clayton said she had been anecdotally heard about unsupported ministry administration documentation units and lacking sufficient resources, leaving them unable to meet legislative closing dates for processing requests for information.

He noted that his office had taken steps to address the so-called "presumed refusal" more efficiently, where ministry does not process an application in a timely manner, or not processed at all. 25 refusals were considered during the last year, and of those 22 of the government ministries of Alberta.

Several successive annual reports of the office and information office have identified its problems that deal with an increasing number of public complaints. Over the past year, the situation came incredibly, Clayton said.

"Our normal new is forecasting over 2,000 cases per year, and with current staffing levels this is not sustainable," he told the committee as she asked for an additional $ 661,000 to fund five new jobs.

Sean Holman, journalist professor of the Royal Mynydd University, says that freedom of information is an essential tool for holding governments accountable. (Supplied)Clayton said that the new posts will be used to address the backlog of office and "maintain our current timelines in reviewing the issues that Albertans bring before the office."

But the commissioner accepts that even the response lines of the office response are unacceptable, adding that he is taking his office around an average of nine months to resolve FOI complaints and appeals.

However, it can sometimes take years for Clayton's office to resolve the FOIP request for a review, and what point the money requested could be lost. If the office response does not meet the FOIP candidate, the candidate can proceed to the next stage of the appeals process: a query that often takes several years to complete.

Constant erosion of access to information: expert

Holman said that the situation in Alberta reflects the situation in other states and federally, as governments are entitled to access constantly eroded information.

"As Canadians and like Albertans, we should be worried about it," said Holman.

"Democracy has based on the idea of ​​us making reasonable empathetic decisions based on real knowledge," he said. "That's the way it's supposed to be working.

"So if we have inability to get real government information, the system starts to break down."

Holman said that using FOIP in Alberta is already low compared to other speeds.

Alberta's pay-user system creates a significant depression. Holman noted that Canada's $ 25 application fee is the highest in Canada and the act also allows ministries and others to assess significant fees for processing the information.

The deed also contains a number of fault tips that use stymie access to records that are easily available in other jurisdictions, which can solve the public from using it.

"As a result, there are not many people to advocate for repairs to the system that have been broken", said Holman.


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