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Brad Wall Government Continues Dismal Record on Freedom of Information and Privacy Matters

Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Mr. Gary Dickson has once again expressed concerns that the provincial government has not taken action regarding issues he had raised about the Workers’ Compensation Board last year. In his report, Mr. Dickson recommended that the Saskatchewan Justice Minister should take the appropriate measures to ensure that injured workers have the same rights to access information as those which already exist for government institutions and local authorities. In the Leader-Post (May 22, 2013), Mr. Dickson stated that Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada that does not allow a full suite of access and privacy rules to support Workers’ Compensation claimants.

Keeping in mind that the Privacy Commissioner’s Office enforces three pieces of provincial legislation, the hard question must be asked: Why does the provincial government continue to allow the Workers’ Compensation Board to use their own rules instead of meeting the same standard that other Workers’ Compensation Boards meet across Canada?

Since coming to power, the Sask Party government’s record has been dismal when it comes to freedom of information and privacy matters. For example, reviews and complaints are up 113% over 2008; wait times to handle new cases involving breach of privacy are as long as a year and half. In other Canadian provinces, legislation limits wait times to 90 days. In one Saskatchewan case, a man requested government records about himself, and was forced to wait 68-months to have his request processed. Mr. Dickson called this 68-month delay as “unconscionable.” With only three investigators in Saskatchewan, carrying an open caseload of over 350 reviews and investigations a year, the Brad Wall government’s decision not to increase the Commission’s resources – in Mr. Dickson’s words – “will diminish accountability of public bodies to the people of Saskatchewan.”

The Saskatchewan Liberal Party believes in the right to access information and thus, would bring the WCB in line with the rest of Canada. The Saskatchewan Liberal Party would also provide the Information and Privacy Commissioner with the necessary resources and support in order for his or her Office to carry out its mandate in an effective manner, ensuring high level of accountability of public bodies to the people of Saskatchewan.

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