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Proposed FOIPP changes a good start, says union vice-president

UPEI logo
UPEI logo

Changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act introduced by the province on Tuesday appear to be promising, says the vice-president of the union representing UPEI’s support staff.

Barry Connell, vice-president of CUPE Local 1870, said he was happy to see legislation that would make UPEI, as well as other post-secondary institutions and municipalities, more transparent under the act.

“It’s been a long, hard struggle to get to this point, and we’ve been lobbying different governments for years,” Connell said after first reading through the legislation Tuesday evening. “I’m glad to see the government has taken this step.”

However, Connell noted this was also the beginning of a new phase of getting UPEI covered under FOIPP since the legislation still must be debated on and then get royal assent.

He pointed to other pieces of legislation previously introduced by governments that were never actually proclaimed.

The legislation will also not be retroactive, meaning that documents prior to the legislation going into effect will not be available through FOIPP.

Connell said while he understood the legislation was on a “go-forward basis,” he still described it as a good starting point.

“That would be nice (if it was retroactive) … but 10 years from now when we have a lot of historical data, we’ll have a lot of information,” said Connell.

“You have to have a starting point. It would be nice to say ‘yes, your records from the past are accessible through FOIPP’ but maybe the institutions and municipalities have not kept those records where now they’ll have to.”

CUPE Local 1870 represents approximately 300 employees at UPEI.

The proposed changes would see the act expanded to include post-secondary institutions such as UPEI, Holland College and College de L’lle, as well as the municipalities of Charlottetown, Cornwall, Stratford and Summerside.

When contacted by The Guardian, a UPEI spokesperson said in an emailed statement the university was committed to working in an open and transparent environment.

“We respect decisions made by the legislature and look forward to reviewing the bill in more detail,” said the statement.

The Guardian had also reached out to representatives from Stratford, Charlottetown and Cornwall councils but was unable to get comment from those groups Tuesday evening.

Mitchell.macdonald@theguardian.pe.ca
Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

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