Alberta OIPC Annual Report Highlights Government Records Management Failures

    Dec 12, 2016

    Alberta’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) released an annual report to the provincial legislative assembly in November that is critical of the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability. The report notes that Albertans are not receiving timely responses to their requests for access to information, and the trends are worsening as some delays have grown to more than two years.

    “Undertaking this exercise solidified one thought for me in particular: access to information in Alberta is fast approaching a crisis situation,” Commissioner Jill Clayton wrote in the report’s introductory message. “I am calling on this government, and public bodies in all sectors, to reverse the course we are on and to demonstrate to Albertans respect for the values of transparency, accountability, and the law.

    In a section entitled “Records Management and the Duty to Document,” the report notes a trend of no records responses to access to information requests, and it highlights a number of developments over the past year regarding the destruction of records by government agencies. In response, the report endorses a joint statement by the Information Commissioners of Canada calling for a national law requiring public entities to document matters related to their deliberations, actions, and decisions.

    It also restates recommendations that the Alberta OIPC made to the provincial government in 2013 calling for an amendment to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to require public bodies to “create such records as are reasonably necessary to document their decisions, actions, advice, recommendations and deliberations” and “ensure that all records are covered in records retention and disposition schedules.”

     This monthly advisory contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the management of records and information in Canada.

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