B.C. government agencies shouldn’t wait for an urgent threat to health and safety before informing the public about conditions that affect them, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham says.
Denham issued a report Monday reviewing five cases where government disclosure was questioned. In only one of those cases, the 2010 collapse of a private irrigation dam in the Oliver area, did she find the province didn’t meet its obligation to warn the public.
While government agencies met their obligation in the other cases, Denham noted that in since B.C.’s freedom of information law came into effect in 1993, the only proactive warnings issued to the public have been from police regarding the release of dangerous offenders.
“Over 20 years, we have never seen any reports around public infrastructure, animal health, about water quality,” Denham said.
Ontario provides such reports to the public on bridge safety, and B.C. should consider reporting on the location of marijuana grow ops.
The other cases reviewed by Denham involved a 2008 study of formaldehyde in the air in Prince George, a 2010 study of Lyme disease cases, well water tests by the Cowichan Valley Regional District at Cobble Hill, and mould contamination in a student residence at Simon Fraser University.
Denham’s report is available here.