Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Enterprise Saskatchewan: Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation stalling on request for access to board meeting agendas & minutes; FOIP Act violated

The Saskatchewan Party government is stalling on a request for information regarding Enterprise Saskatchewan and appears to have violated The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

An access to information request dated Apr. 25, 2008, was submitted to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation (EI) for “copies of the complete agenda package, including any attachments, for the Mar. 31, 2008, and Apr. 24, 2008, Enterprise Saskatchewan Board of Directors meetings, and also a copy of the minutes for both meetings.” The ministry received the request on Apr. 29, 2008.

The ministry’s May 28, 2008, response advised that “the 30 day response period has been extended an additional 30 days, pursuant to subclause 12(1)(a)(ii) of The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as “…there is a large number of requests and completing the work within the original period would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution.””

Section 12(3) of the Act states: “Within the period of extension, the head shall give written notice to the applicant in accordance with section 7.” The ministry did not provide this notice.

According to the Act it appears that a government institution has, at most, 60 days to respond in writing stating that access to the record or part of it will be given or refused, setting out the reason for the refusal and identifying the specific provision of the Act on which the refusal is based.

Despite several email enquiries to the ministry for an update on the request only two informal replies have been received.

The first response was Aug. 5, 2008, when the ministry said “something” would be sent “out in the mail…by the end of this week.”

The second response was on Aug. 19, 2008, when the ministry said it had “every intention to grant” access to the records, “with exempt information denied/severed.” The ministry said that a “final assessment and preparation of the records” still needed to be done as well as “a final review of the package” by the permanent head, which in this case is believed to be EI deputy minister Dale Botting.

The most recent enquiry to the ministry for a status report was on Sept. 18, 2008. The ministry never responded.

As of Oct. 7, 2008, more than 5 months since receiving the request, the ministry has not finalized it. A complaint has been forwarded to the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner.

A second access to information request dated Sept. 19, 2008, has been submitted to EI for copies of the agendas and minutes for the May 22 and June 19, 2008, Enterprise Saskatchewan board meetings.


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