NEWS
10/22/2015 16:58 EDT | Updated 10/22/2016 01:12 EDT

Privacy commissioner's recommendations for B.C. government on access requests

VICTORIA — British Columbia's privacy commissioner has issued a highly critical report of the government's freedom-of-information practices. Elizabeth Denham said her investigation uncovered major issues in the FOI process and that immediate action is needed. Here is a list of her 11 recommendations:

— The Ministry of Transportation should release the 36 pages of records initially identified in an applicant's request that set off the investigation. The request was for records related to missing women along B.C.'s so-called Highway of Tears.

— Government should develop an hourly, daily and monthly backup of data and monitor compliance.

— The Ministry of Advanced Education should release records connected to an FOI request for emails sent by the chief of staff to Minister Amrik Virk.

— Executives in the Office of the Premier should change their access to information process to ensure requests for records are communicated by email in a timely manner and properly documented.

— Government should clarify access requests with applicants where necessary to ensure it does not interpret requests too narrowly.

— Government should clearly train and guide employees on how to conduct a thorough search for potential records to an access request.

— Government should provide mandatory records management training to all employees.

— Government should legislate independent oversight of information management requirements to include the destruction of records, including sanctions when those requirements are not met.

— Government should configure settings in Microsoft Office to recover deleted items for just over one month to ensure all government emails are captured in monthly backups.

— Government should create legislation requiring it to document the Freedom of Information process with  accurate records of its key decisions and actions to indicate it does not endorse "oral government."

The Canadian Press