For the week of June 21, 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed even bigger problems with Canada’s broken access to information system.
Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard told the House of Commons committee on government operations that most offices responsible for processing freedom of information requests are closed. Public servants are working from home without access to secure networks, scanners and photocopiers.
“Let’s not forget, that access delayed is access denied,” Maynard told the all-party committee on a June 19 web conference.
Listen to her presentation on this week’s edition of theBreaker.news Podcast, along with Sean Holman, a former B.C. investigative reporter who is now a professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary. Holman is part of the ad hoc Canadian COVID-19 Accountability Group. It wants reforms to whistleblower protection and FOI laws within the context of the pandemic.
“During an emergency, the need for information accelerates,” Holman said.
The group wants the government to release government contracts and health and scientific reports unredacted within 15 days of creation. It also wants protection for those who report wrongdoing.
“We need to stop treating this as a partisan issue,” Holman said. “We need to treat this as an issue of democracy that should unify us all so that we can better serve the public and make better decisions as a country about some of the most pressing problems of our time.”
Plus commentary and Pacific Rim and Pacific Northwest headlines.
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