Province hikes price of truth
Reprinted with permission from the
March 27, 2002
Daily News (Halifax)
Scotians may no longer be able to afford the truth.
provincial government is hiking fees on freedom of information requests
more than fivefold, to $25 from $5 for each request, making it the most
expensive province in which to obtain public information.
sounds like a massive increase, but if a person is trying to get the
information and they need that information, I would suggest that’s
fairly reasonable,” Deputy Premier Ron Russell said yesterday.
said it’s necessary to cover rising costs, but critics say it will
curb public access to vital information.
is the political equivalent of pulling down the blinds, closing the
doors, and locking it before you do the dirty work,” said NDP Leader
Darrell Dexter. “They want to keep the public in the dark.”
fees will also jump to $30 an hour from $20, and for the first time, a
$25 fee will be charged to appeal when government rejects handing over
province will also scrap its practice of waiving fees for the first two
parties, which make dozens of freedom of information requests every
year, accused the government of jacking up fees in an attempt to make it
too costly to get potentially embarrassing information.
is a calculated move, and the purpose is quite clear: it’s to try to
stifle requests for information from this government and to keep the
real goings-on of this government behind closed doors,” said Liberal
justice critic Michel Samson.
new fees come after a series of embarrassing revelations through freedom
of information requests, including the Liberals’ uncovering of big
raises in the premier’s office.
denied secrecy is behind the higher fees. He said it’s time people who
use the system start paying a bigger share. Last year, fees covered just
$9,000 of the $700,000 cost of handling 1,000 applications.
pay 30 per cent of their drug costs. Patients using ambulances pay over
20 per cent of their transportation costs. Is it fair for freedom of
information applicants to pay little more than one per cent of costs
they incur?” asked Russell.
Fardy, the province’s review officer, said the fees will discourage
many people from using the service.
very disappointed at this turn of events,” he said. “I can’t
predict the impact, but I’m afraid it will put access out of reach for
many private citizens.”
Ontario raised fees in 1996, the number of requests for information
dropped 25 per cent from 1995 to 1998.
Copyright 2002 The Daily News
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