FREDERICTON (CNB) – Legislation that improves the public's right to information and protection of privacy and that governs how personal information is collected, used and disclosed will come into effect on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

The Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out the public's right of access to public information and the requirements for the appropriate handling of personal information held by public bodies.

Administered by the Department of Supply and Services, the act provides a framework for how public bodies must respond to requests for information, and it applies to all records held in any form. It also provides greater safeguards for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information within and by public bodies.

"This new act will bring greater openness and transparency to the operations of government,” said Supply and Services Minister Ed Doherty. “It will also better protect the personal information of New Brunswickers from misuse.”

An information access and privacy unit has been established at the Department of Supply and Services to provide corporate leadership and advice on the new legislation. It provides support services for all public bodies subject to the act, such as policy guidance, co-ordination, resources and training on access and privacy issues.

In addition to the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act, administered by the Department of Health, the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act was introduced in the legislative assembly in May 2009, after the Right to Information and Protection of Personal Information Task Force and the Personal Health Information Task Force held public consultations.

As announced last month, New Brunswick's first access to information and privacy commissioner will also begin work on Sept. 1.

Commissioner Anne Bertrand will oversee the public sector's performance of its obligations under the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act as well as the handling of personal health information by the public and private sectors under the Personal Health Information Privacy and Access Act. The commissioner will also respond to individuals who feel their request for access has been improperly handled.

Both acts are available online, with further information available on the Department of Supply and Services website beginning Wednesday, Aug. 25.

LINKS:
 
●    Department of Supply and Services (right to information): www.gnb.ca/info
●    Department of Health: www.gnb.ca/health