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Sunday, 31st October 2010

Canada: "Provincial Access-To-Info Offices See Big Backlogs"

From a CBC Article:

Freedom of information commissioners across Canada say they don't have the resources needed and a backlog of complaints is adding up.

Dulcie McCallum, Nova Scotia's freedom of information and protection of privacy officer, says her province is just one facing a bulging caseload, overworked staff and frustrated citizens forced to wait months, sometimes years, before their grievances are settled.

"I've been in this job three years and ... I've repeatedly asked for more resources, and they aren't provided," said McCallum, a lawyer and former ombudsman in British Columbia.

"In other jurisdictions, there are similar struggles…. We just don't have enough people working here to manage things in a timely way for some," she added. "All my colleagues are bemoaning this."


In Saskatchewan, information and privacy commissioner Gary Dickson said the backlog is worse in his province, where three investigators are handling 300 open files, a caseload that increased 62 per cent in the last year alone.


In Alberta, information and privacy commissioner Frank Work said he would need to double his staff after the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled in January that he could no longer extend 90-day statutory deadlines without giving reasons that could be subject to court review.

"Clearly, those kinds of resources are not available in these times," Work said in a statement.

In New Brunswick, the province's ombudsman handled all complaints about freedom of information requests until last month, when the province appointed Anne Bertrand as its first access to information and privacy commissioner.


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