Acting commissioner Drew McArthur. (Black Press files)

Privacy czar chides B.C. government over shoddy access to information practices

Drew McArthur says he is disappointed in the provincial government’s poor response rate

British Columbia’s privacy commissioner says the government broke its own law 20 per cent of the time last year by failing to respond to freedom of information requests in a timely manner.

Acting commissioner Drew McArthur says he is disappointed in the provincial government’s poor response rate and is concerned about a spike in the amount of time it takes to respond to overdue files, a 62-day delay last year.

McArthur is calling the results of his new report extraordinary and says it is difficult to imagine the provincial government would ever tolerate its citizens breaking the law 20 per cent of the time.

This is the fourth such review conducted by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, which analyzed 194 random requests submitted over a two-year period between 2015 and 2017.

The report, titled “Timing is Everything,” makes eight recommendations, such as committing more resources to respond to access requests, closing all overdue files and expanding the proactive disclosure program.

The report chronicles a steady increase in the number of requests over the years, but McArthur says the government cannot be let off the hook simply because more people are exercising their rights.

The Canadian Press

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