- What is the objective of the Open Information site?
Open Information is designed to let you know more about what government is doing so that you can help keep them accountable or get involved in making improvements.
- What is the difference between Open Information and DataBC?
Both sites – Open Information and DataBC – provide access to public information and data so that you can collaborate with government on improving policy and service delivery.
Use Open Information to access releases of government documents and travel expense information for government officials.
DataBC is more than just public information. Use it to access raw provincial data and tools to conduct your own research, analyze statistics or develop apps.
- Why is travel expense information for Ministers and Deputy Ministers posted?
Citizens are entitled to see how senior officials are spending public money to travel for government business. In fact, travel expense details for Ministers and Deputy Ministers are among the most commonly-requested pieces of public information. The government is publishing this information online so that you don’t have to formally request it.
- What are government information releases?
Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the government releases ministry records on a request-by-request basis. Some examples of public information commonly requested for release include: policy decisions on health care, decisions about road allowances, or spending related to environmental issues.
- How can I make a request for government information?
Please make a written request to Information Access Operations, Ministry of Citizens' Services and Open Government.
- If I apply for government information to be released, will it also be published online at the same time? Or is there a holding period?
Information will be released to the applicant who requested it and then published online a minimum of 72 hours after it is released electronically, or, a minimum of 5 business days after it has been released by mail in hard-copy.
- Why is the government posting information requested by citizens online? Is there legislation that governs this program?
Technology is making it possible for everyone to have more direct interactions with government. Having public information available online makes it easier to access information about government that specifically interests you.
In fact, the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Legislative Assembly's Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act have recommended that government routinely disclose more public information using online technology.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act gives you the right to request public information and requires government to respond to those requests. Some requested information does not have to be disclosed if the Act permits government to withhold it. For example, information presented in a cabinet meeting or information identifying other persons would be withheld. If you are unsatisfied with government’s response to a request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the response. There are no rights to review information published on this website. For more information contact Information Access Operations, Ministry of Citizens’ Services and Open Government.
- Are travel expenses being posted as a result of a request for information?
No. Travel expense information for Ministers and Deputy Ministers are being routinely released so formal requests for this type of information become unnecessary.
- Since requests for government information will be released to the public online, are applicants still required to pay a fee when initiating a request?
Not all requests require payment. Releases of specific information are subject to fees based on the amount of work required to process each request.
- Will MLA expenses also be made available online?
The general compensation and allowances for MLAs are published on the Legislative Assembly website. In the case that an individual is both an MLA and a Minister, only their travel expenses as a Minister will be published online.
- How long will the government information on this site be available?
Public information is available from this website for up to 2 years after it has been released.
- How often is the site updated?
Information that has been released by request will be posted regularly – even daily, in some cases.
- Why are some documents not easily searchable?
Electronic documents are submitted in different formats. Scanned documents are in an image format which makes it difficult to search their contents. The Open Information document search will help you locate documents by key words, ministry name and file name.
- If B.C. is pursuing ‘open government,’ how come some information in FOI releases and documents is still redacted?
B.C. takes the management of information and the protection of privacy seriously and we are legally obliged to meet all the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPP) Act.
The FOIPP Act prohibits the public release of some types of information – personal information about citizens, discussions confidential to cabinet and information that could harm the business interests of a third party. This means that all details that meet these exceptions must be removed from the information releases prior to being posted online.
Releasing any of this information would be in contravention of the act and is not something government is able to do.
Why do I still have to request documents through FOI if information is supposed to be proactively released?
Citizens will always have the right to submit freedom of information requests because the FIOPP Act gives the public a right of access to information.
The proactive release of information requests is one way we are now sharing and making more information available. This is a good first step and we will continue to build on the open data and information tools recently launched.
Why don’t Crown corporations or other government agencies post their FOI releases to the website?
Our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act covers more than 2,900 public bodies, more than any other jurisdiction in Canada. While the FOIPP Act applies to Crown Corporations and other government agencies, right now the new Open Information and Open Data Policy applies only to government ministries.
The Open Information website could be expanded to include other Crown agencies if that was something they were interested in and didn’t want to create their own website to release information.
Why not break down ministers’ and deputy ministers’ travel expenses more specifically?
Providing a detailed breakdown of expenses is something we’d like to do down the road. Right now, we are looking at ways to have these travel expenses reported in a consistent manner to enable us to post more specific breakdowns.
Our systems were never designed to be as open as we are today, and so it's going to take some time to redesign those systems to allow for more detailed reporting.
Travel expenses will be posted on a month-by-month basis beginning on the second business day of each month.