OIPC clarifies interpretation of s. 25 public interest requirement

In response to the Mount Polley mine tailings pond dam failure in August 2014, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC ("OIPC") recently released Investigation Report F15-02. The Report makes a finding that s. 25(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ("FIPPA") be re-interpreted to no longer require an element of temporal urgency for the disclosure of information that is clearly in the public interest under s. 25 of FIPPA. In light of this revised interpretation, all public bodies in BC are required to promptly evaluate whether they currently have information that must be disclosed pursuant to s. 25(1)(b). Public bodies are also encouraged to develop policies that provide guidance to employees and officers about the public body's obligations under s. 25 of FIPPA, including specific steps an employee should take to bring relevant information to the attention of the head of the public body. It must be noted that this s. 25 disclosure duty applies despite any other provisions, including the access exceptions found in Part 2 of FIPPA.

Read the Commissioner’s Report in full: