Should the fee for freedom of information requests in B.C. be dropped? – Poll

Poll: FOI requests

Castanet Staff – | Story: 408226

B.C. residents are concerned about the government’s troubles in providing government information to the public and media.

Eighty-five per cent of residents “say it is important for the B.C. government to reduce its average processing time and meet its legislated requirements with respect to freedom of information requests,” stated Ipsos, which noted the average processing time for the province to process a general freedom of information (FOI) request is 65 days whereas the legislated requirement is for requests to be processed in 30 days.

A majority of British Columbians (57 per cent) do not believe people should be required to pay a fee to file a request.

A report this month from the commissioner assessed how a new $10 fee, implemented in November 2021, has affected the request process.

The commissioner found the number of access requests for general records made to the province declined before the fee was introduced and continued to decline in the six months following. Media requests, in particular, declined sharply and is a “cause for concern,” the commissioner noted.

The amendments from the Ministry of Citizens Services, which is in charge of FOI laws and information technology, also allowed other public bodies to charge a $10 fee for non-personal requests.

Of the 109 public bodies surveyed by the commissioner, 24 charge an application fee and another 24 were considering doing so in the future.

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