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P.E.I. urged to extend freedom of information legislation to include UPEI

Joining forces to urge the province to add post-secondary institutions in P.E.I. to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act are, from left to right, UPEI Student Union VP Taya Nabuurs, UPEI Faculty Association President Nola Etkin, and CUPE Local 1870 VP Barry Connell.
Joining forces to urge the province to add post-secondary institutions in P.E.I. to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act are, from left to right, UPEI Student Union VP Taya Nabuurs, UPEI Faculty Association President Nola Etkin, and CUPE Local 1870 VP Barry Connell. - Jim Day

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Post-secondary institutions in P.E.I. have skirted accountability far too long, says the UPEI faculty president.

Nola Etkin is urging the government to extend the province’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) legislation to include the Island’s lone university.

“UPEI is the only Canadian university that doesn’t fall under FOIPP legislation and Islanders should have the same rights to that information that all other Canadians take for granted,’’ she says.

“The premier has made a pledge to Islanders to make the province more open and accountable in the dealings of the government and public bodies. UPEI is a public body. So it makes sense at this time that the legislation would be extended to the post-secondary institutions.’’

Related: Bring P.E.I. municipalities, post-secondary institutions into FOIPP, says privacy commissioner

With the provincial FOIPP legislation currently under review, the UPEI Student Union, the UPEI Faculty Association, and CUPE 1870 are calling on the province to add post-secondary institutions to the list of public bodies included under the FOIPP Act.

“It is long overdue that we bring Prince Edward Island up to speed with every other province and territory in Canada in bringing its post-secondary institutions under FOIPP legislation,” says UPEI Student Union Vice-President Academic and External Taya Nabuurs.

“Nearly half of UPEI’s revenues are derived from government funding. It is therefore imperative that proper accountability and oversight is facilitated. Islanders should have the right to access information about the post-secondary institutions for which they are paying. This is a right that Canadians have in every other province.”

Etkin says the university’s own access to information policy is inadequate and leaves the institution to decide when--or even if--information is made public.

“This is unacceptable in modern Canada,’’ she says.

CUPE 1870 is joining with students, faculty, staff, and other citizens and citizen groups in P.E.I. to call for the inclusion of post-secondary institutions under FOIPP, says Barry Connell, vice-president of CUPE 1870, which represents approximately 280 support staff at UPEI.

“This will guarantee independent oversight over access to this information, and we should expect nothing less from the review of this legislation," he says.

“We’re very hopeful that something will get done.’’

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