Public hasn’t had much to say on access to information

Published on August 18, 2014
From left, Doug Letto, Clyde Wells and Jennifer Stoddart prepare for the first day of testimony at the access to information hearings at the Ramada Hotel in St. John’s Tuesday.
— Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

The access to information review is holding its final week of hearings with committee chair Clyde Wells lamenting the lack of interest.

In opening remarks Monday morning, Wells talked about the fact that they haven’t received many submissions from citizens, which he took to mean that people are largely satisfied with the access to information law.

The ATIPPA review committee sent questionnaires to access to information co-ordinators in government. Roughly a third of the bureaucrats who received forms have provided a response. Wells said that when they sent out the questionnaires, they promised complete anonymity to the people responding.

On Tuesday, Public Engagement Minister Sandy Collins will make a presentation to the committee on behalf of the government.

Representatives for Nalcor, Memorial University and the CBC will also present.

Several members of The Telegram newsroom presented to the committee this summer.

Monday morning, Suzanne Legault, Information Commissioner of Canada, presented to the committee, talking about the need for proactive disclosure and a change to the way information is withheld from citizens under the access to information law.

Legault said that the act as it is currently written doesn’t strike a balance between public information and necessary confidentiality. She said the current legislation has tipped the balance in favour of secrecy.

The committee is accepting written submissions until the end of August.

Their final report is expected to be finished in the fall.