FREDERICTON (GNB) – Amendments to the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act were introduced today that would make access to information more efficient for those making the requests and for the public bodies responding to them.

“As it stands, there are gaps, unclear wording and overly complex procedures in the access to information process,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “These proposed changes will help streamline this process and ensure openness and transparency.”

The proposed amendments would:

  • Better protect information that could harm or threaten the security of government property and systems if released.
  • Provide more support to help public bodies better meet their obligations under the act, such as guidelines and help with processing complex requests.
  • Add greater flexibility for responding to requests, such as transferring a request and related records if doing so is more efficient.
  • Streamline the process to release third-party documents with their consent.
  • Support proactive disclosure of information by public bodies without the need to make a formal request under the act.
  • Ensure the person who filed the request is not sent multiple copies of the same document.
  • Remove the need to respond to a request already granted.
  • Simplify timelines for responding; for example, enabling an extension with the consent of the person who filed the request or automatically suspending the timeline when a third party files a formal complaint.

“These amendments are needed to address existing gaps in the legislation, which could cause unnecessary delay in processing access to information requests,” said Steeves.  “We look forward to starting a comprehensive review of the act early in the next fiscal year, which will include broad stakeholder consultation.”