Justice Minister Janice Sherry said Prince Edward Island is the only Atlantic province that doesn’t allow the public to file for information on municipal governments.
“In 2002, when the Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation was made, other provinces across the country did not include their municipalities. But now we realize, like New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, all have their municipalities covered under their legislation.”
Sherry said the Island municipal exclusion from the Freedom of Information legislation may be coming to an end.
“It was recognized in the Land Governance Report by former Judge Ralph C. Thompson,” the minister said. “I do believe that there will be some discussions in those forums in regards to potentially making a change. The change that would have to happen is definitively a legislative one.”
Sherry said she was not certain why municipalities across the country were exempt from the law when it was first enacted.
However, she noted, that in the upcoming consultations on land governance on P.E.I., “This is one of the issues that they will be looking at and talking about.”
Sherry said the reason for including municipalities under the law now is because of changes that have occurred over the years and the public’s desire for the information.
“I guess in Prince Edward Island lots of times we look around to our sister provinces and use them as a guide,” she said. “Things have changed over the course of the last 10 years… There’s no formal decision at this point to make any changes. We’ll see what happens in the (land governance) consultations.”
The inclusion of municipalities in the Freedom of Information and Privacy legislation would help the public gain access to local documents. Recently, in Summerside, if the legislation had been in place, citizens could have applied for access to the city’s Hopping Report on the failed Michael Jackson tribute concert.