#1 – A Totally Revamped “Access to Information Policy.”
As promised, I will be outlining policies, programs and plans as part of my “vision” and campaign platform leading up to the PC Leadership Convention on February 9, 2019.
This week is dedicated to policies falling under the general catch-all of “True Transparency.” I say “True” transparency because the word “transparency” has been used and abused so often by the Liberal government as to have been emptied of all meaning – despite promising to be “open and transparent,” the MacLauchlan Liberal government has been completely “closed and opaque”.
A TOTALLY REVAMPED ACCESS TO INFORMATION POLICY
Information is power, and I am pledging to give power back to the people of Prince Edward Island. That means giving timely access to government documentation and information. The very first thing I will do is totally revamp the “Access to Information” system.
- Filing “Access to Information” claims should be the method of “last resort” in obtaining government information. Most government information should be posted online and made available within months of it being created or received, without having to file specific requests. New procedures would be implemented at the departmental level that would see most documents, correspondence, reports, memos, emails, etc. made available to the general public upon request., without having to file access to information requests, waiting for months, and being charged exorbitant amounts of money for access to information, which is, often meaningless and unintelligible as a result of major portions of documents being erased.
- Staff throughout government would receive training regarding what information would need to be “redacted” or removed to ensure the protection of private information provided for in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act is not compromised. Everything else would be made public.
- Currently, when individuals file access to information requests, they are charged for the time spent searching for records, processing records, and copying records. If 100 people file 100 separate requests for the same information, government FOIPP staff open 100 separate files, process 100 separate requests, and send out 100 separate invoices. This is a ridiculous waste of time, money and resources. A “true transparency Access to Information policy” would have the processed documents inputted into a public database and be made available online for anyone else to access free of charge. A dedicated website – with comprehensive filing and search features – would be created. The time saved not having to process multiple requests for the same documents would easily cover the costs of creating and maintaining this public resource.