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Nechako Lakes MLA part of committee looking to make access to information, privacy easier

“People are losing confidence in government,”

Those are the words of Nechako Lakes Liberal MLA John Rustad as he is part of a special all-party committee that is looking to modernize access to information and privacy rules in BC.

The committee has made 34 recommendations including how public bodies handle freedom of information requests.

They include:

* immediately clarifying and expanding the types of records that must be released, while moving toward proactive disclosure of all documents that are not explicitly noted as exceptions in the act;

* modernizing and improving how public bodies handle freedom of information requests;

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* establishing a comprehensive health-information privacy law;

* regulating automated decision-making; and

* enhancing the powers of the information and privacy commissioner.

The full report, which was released today (Wednesday) can be found here.

Rustad told Vista Radio some of the materials that fall under FOI requests should be made public.

“A whole bunch of requests that come in for things like calendars, routine emails, and processes. Really these types of things are public information and it should be made publicly available without having to go through requests and then taking weeks if not months at getting this information out.”

“People are losing confidence in government and the government institutions and it’s time governments really paid some attention to being far more transparent and more open with the information.”

“One of the things that can be very helpful if there are lots of things that are requested on a regular basis. Instead of having to request these things just make them public – make them available on a database and make it searchable and it would eliminate a lot of the need for Freedom of Information Requests,” added Rustad.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act applies to more than 29-hundred public organizations in the province. The Act provides a right to access records and imposes limits on the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.

Currently, a non-refundable application fee of $10 is required for all FOI requests, for every public body included.

The members of the committee are:

* Rick Glumac, MLA, Port Moody-Coquitlam (chair);

* John Rustad, MLA, Nechako Lakes (deputy chair);

* Susie Chant, MLA, North Vancouver-Seymour;

* Adam Olsen, MLA, Saanich North and the Islands;

* Kelli Paddon, MLA, Chilliwack-Kent;

* Tom Shypitka, MLA, Kootenay East; and

* Henry Yao, MLA, Richmond South Centre.

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