What’s New in the World of Freedom of Information?
The law and procedure surrounding freedom of information (“FOI”) is in a constant state of flux. Its state of play continues to be altered both incrementally and by sudden sea-change. Gradual change typically flows from consequential legislative amendments, decisions of the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner (“OIPC”), court rulings, and less formally through guidance and best practice documents. Our ever-changing FOI law shows that it adapts to new circumstances and challenges, but this malleability can make it an uncertain and challenging area for local governments. This paper will address some of these uncertainties and challenges and offer tips on some complex areas of the current regime, namely, how to manage vexatious requesters, issues with giving third parties’ notice of requests, and handling commercial applicants.
Sea changes in the law are typically legislative, and Bill 22 – 2021: Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2021 (“Bill 22”) has British Columbia on the precipice of a major shift to the topography of FOI. If passed, Bill 22 will significantly change the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”), the central piece of legislation governing FOI for local governments. This paper outlines the amendments proposed in Bill 22, with particular attention to key areas of change relevant to local governments’ interests and operations.