Yukon Information and Privacy Commissioner
IPC issues guidance documents to help improve access to information in Yukon
Mon, Sep 28, 2020
WHITEHORSE – To mark Right to Know Week in Yukon, the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) is launching two guidance documents to assist public bodies in their duties under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPP Act).
“Right to Know Week is a time for us to acknowledge that access to information is vital to the health and vitality of society, democracy and good government,” said Diane McLeod-McKay. “Yukoners have the right to access government information under the ATIPP Act. The ability to exercise that right depends on a well-functioning access to information system. It is not enough to have a law. The law must be implemented and those responsible for processing access to information requests must be properly trained on their duties. Access to information programs also need to be properly resourced.”
McLeod-McKay indicated in her last two annual reports that Yukon public bodies have much work to do to improve access to information. In her 2019 annual report, she highlighted significant confusion amongst staff at public bodies about how to apply access to information provisions, as well as misunderstanding about the application of the exceptions. McLeod-McKay has also noted several problems in the way searches for records are conducted.
“The cause of these problems appears to stem from a chronic lack of sufficient support and training on the ATIPP Act for ATIPP coordinators and others responsible for processing access to information requests,” said McLeod-McKay. “The results of these deficiencies are lengthy delays and errors. Our goal in releasing these guidance documents is to help improve the access to information system. The documents will not solve all the problems we’ve seen over the years, but we are hopeful that they will be helpful in addressing some of them.”
One of the new documents outlines the steps to conducting searches for electronic, paper and other records in response to access requests made under the ATIPP Act. It is intended to assist ATIPP coordinators, public body employees who are searching for records, and public bodies themselves. It can be found on the IPC website here.
The other document was written for public bodies who have received a request for review under the ATIPP Act. It identifies how to apply the access to information provisions when an access request is received, provides information about the request for review process, and describes what public bodies should expect. It also offers suggestions on how to move effectively through the review process. It can be found on the IPC website here.
In addition to the launch of the two guidance documents, McLeod-McKay is also making a presentation this week to the Association of Yukon Communities, on expectations for information access and privacy under the ATIPP Act.
“It is anticipated that the new ATIPP Act will be proclaimed into force sometime before the end of 2020, along with accompanying regulations,” added McLeod-McKay. “The new Act will modify some of the existing access to information provisions. Public bodies will need to ensure that their employees responsible for processing access to information requests understand the modifications so that they are administered properly. As well, once the new Act is in force, the office of the IPC will be obligated to deliver educational programs to inform the public of their rights and to inform public bodies of their powers and duties under the ATIPP legislation. In the coming years, we will work to deliver on this mandate to ensure Yukoners understand their rights and can exercise them within a properly functioning access to information system.”
Right to Know Week was proclaimed by the Yukon Commissioner for Sept 28 to Oct 4, 2020.
The Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner is an independent officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly. For more information, please go to www.yukonombudsman.ca.
Office of the Yukon Ombudsman, Information and Privacy Commissioner & Public Interest Disclosure Commissioner
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