Categories: Home2News

B.C. premier defends freedom of information fee, may not be $25

B.C. Premier John Horgan defended his government’s effort to modernize its bogged-down freedom of information law Thursday, and left room for a proposed $25 filing fee to be reduced or even eliminated.

“We haven’t settled on a fee,” Horgan told reporters in Victoria Oct. 21. The $25 figure is a proposal by Citizens’ Services Minister Lisa Beare, who described it as in the middle of the range of fees in other provinces. Horgan said the “vigorous debate” has begun, and he would consider changes such as five free applications a year to serve most needs and deter a few frequent filers.

Horgan pointed to an “extraordinary proliferation of information requests from political parties,” after being asked in question period about a long-running B.C. Liberal effort to see screen shots of his office computer. Abbotsford South B.C. Liberal MLA Bruce Banman recounted a long FOI battle for screen images of Horgan’s computer, with an automated capture system.

“He’s welcome to come over today, and he can take a look at, it if he wants to,” Horgan told B.C. legislature Speaker Raj Chouhan in question period. “The issue is fishing trips like that that are clogging up freedom of information for ordinary British Columbians. I mean, like, get real. Who cares?”

At a news conference after the session, Horgan fished out his smartphone and revealed that the device has Spotify, email and an app to advise him on the weather in Prince Rupert.

RELATED: B.C.’s $25 FOI fee called ‘modest,’ to speed up service

RELATED: B.C. privacy commissioner raps information delays

In the legislature he noted the changes would impose a fine of up to $50,000 for destruction of government documents, suggesting it would have applied to B.C. Liberal MLA Todd Stone’s staff had it been in place under the previous government.

The ministry says it now processes more than 10,000 FOI requests annually, with the volume of requests increasing by more than 40 per cent over a two-year period, reaching an all-time high of more than 13,000 requests in 2019-20 (13,055).

Horgan rejected a suggestion that the amendments exempt the premier’s office from FOI disclosure, calling it a simplification to treat his office as a ministry. He said the modernization has to reflect the current situation where a deputy minister may receive 6,000 electronic messages in a month, and those that should be disclosed are those indicating decisions.

As previous governments have done, Horgan pledged more “proactive disclosure” as a solution. If information is requested that would be released through FOI, it should be released without the lengthy process.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Tom Fletcher

Leave a Comment
Share
Published by
Tom Fletcher

Recent Posts

Gov.-Gen. Mary Simon hits Victoria for first official visit to B.C.

Ceremonial welcome from premier, lieutenant-governor and military parade May 20

53 mins ago

World War II flying ace Stocky Edwards laid to rest in Courtenay

“He was a hero when we needed heroes.”

53 mins ago

PHOTOS: Oak Bay High grads’ public celebration returns to Willows

Class of 2022 gathers at popular beach for photos with friends, family

1 hour ago

Langford cultural district opens along downtown railroad stretch

Aims to showcase artists and give emerging entrepreneurs a place to grow

2 hours ago

RCMP seek suspect following report of bank robbery at Vancouver Island CIBC branch

Parksville police ask public for assistance in locating man

2 hours ago

Monkeypox poses low risk, but everyone susceptible: Tam

Susceptibility is high because routine vaccination against smallpox ended decades ago

3 hours ago