As minister responsible for the Office of Public Engagement, I am responding
to an article that appeared in The Telegram on Feb. 23, as well as to the editorial on Feb. 26. I felt it was necessary to clarify for you and your readers the facts regarding public access to orders in council. Contrary to what was reported, these documents have been and currently are available to the public by request.
Orders in council take effect legally when they are signed by the lieutenant-governor and there is a requirement for public access of these orders. We have met and continue to meet that requirement by providing access when requests are received through Cabinet Secretariat. This process has been ongoing and numerous orders in council have been released through this process. In 2011 and 2012, Cabinet Secretariat received six requests for orders in council. In total, 364 orders in council were released. Of these 364, only seven had information withheld due to the provisions of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA). In fact, the reporter used this same process to request orders in council and was advised on Feb. 22 that his request would be addressed during the week of Feb. 25.
For the majority of cases, orders in council are released in their entirety. In rare cases, information may be withheld for different reasons, including the redaction of private or personal information as specified by provisions outlined under ATIPPA. This requirement is not a result of Bill 29, as suggested in The Telegram. Private and personal information would have been redacted prior to Bill 29 as well. Again, it is important to reiterate that this would be the exception rather than the rule, as noted above with the release of 364 orders in council in 2011 and 2012.
As minister of the Office of Public Engagement, I am committed to enhancing the routine disclosure of information available to the public, including orders in council. In the coming weeks, I will provide an update on how routine access to these documents will be enhanced.
Minister Responsible for Office of