Report expected in October
All that’s left now is for the review committee to write a report and make recommendations to fix the province’s access to information system.
Over the past few months, as dozens of people have voiced their concerns or sent written submissions to the access to information review committee, the message again and again has been that the system is deeply broken.
Former premier Clyde Wells, along with former federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart and retired journalist Doug Letto, has studied the situation since they were appointed in March. Over the summer, they’ve been holding public consultations to hear from experts, industry groups, information and privacy advocates and journalists — including The Telegram.
On the last day of public hearings, Information and Privacy Commissioner Ed Ring made the final presentation, addressing a litany of issues that have come up over the past few months.
He said the current law has major problems. His office can’t provide effective oversight of the access to information system because he isn’t allowed to see many kinds of government documents to review and assess if the government is keeping them secret appropriately.
“This, in our view, is a serious flaw in the act,” Ring told the review committee. “There must be oversight in order to insure that the act works in the spirit in which it was designed.”
After the session was over, Ring told The Telegram he’s happy with how the process has unfolded.
The last time a review of the access to information system was done, by former Department of Justice lawyer John Cummings, it was conducted mostly behind closed doors.
“We had no idea what any public body was presenting to Mr. Cummings at the time,” Ring said. “In this case, we had an opportunity to sit and listen, and my office sat in on every presentation.”
Wells wrapped up the meeting Thursday by thanking everybody who participated. He said the review committee is hoping to have a completed report done by the end of October.