© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
UPEI student union vice-president academic and external Travis Gordon, left, and president Lucas MacArthur give a presentation to MLAs during an education and innovation committee meeting on Oct. 23.
President Lucas MacArthur tells legislators P.E.I. only province not to include post-secondary institutions
If a UPEI student wants information about the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame, they can file a freedom of information request and appeal a denied request.
If that student wanted to do the same thing with their university, they would be out of luck.
It’s a point UPEI student union president Lucas MacArthur made Thursday when he pitched the idea of including the university in Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection legislation to the education and innovation committee.
MacArthur said P.E.I. is the only province that doesn’t include post-secondary institutions in its access to information law.
“This obviously is an issue that troubles us is roughly half of UPEI’s operating budget is paid by using public dollars yet there is no FOIPP obligations for the institution,” he said.
In 2014-2015, the provincial government gave UPEI an
operating grant of more than $51 million.
P.E.I.’s FOIPP legislation allows members of the public to request information from government departments and some publicly funded bodies.
There is no guarantee the requested information will be released, but if it’s not there are appeal mechanisms in place.
It costs $5 to submit a request.
The university has a designated privacy officer, but MacArthur said only staff or students can apply for information and there is no oversight or means of appeal if a request is denied.
MacArthur said the student union believes it should be a principal that using public money equals public access to information.
“We don’t believe there is necessarily anything that’s going on in the university that has anything to do with wrongdoing.”
MLAs on the committee seemed receptive to the idea of including post-secondary institutions in FOIPP legislation with several of them saying they agreed it was a good idea.
The student union executives are meeting with Justice Minister Janice Sherry on Nov. 26 to discuss the issue.