B.C. parent accuses province of burying rural education report after Freedom of Information request denied

A B.C. parent is accusing the provincial government of hiding a review on rural education from the public after the Ministry of Education refused to release any information about it.

In 2016, the government embarked on a "Status Check on Rural Education." The review traveled the province and solicited online feedback in order to "paint the picture of rural education as it exists today."

Trudy Klassen took part as a representative for Salmon Valley, a small Northern B.C. community near Prince George, that lost its elementary school in 2010.

"We got together several times to brainstorm and together we decided what to write," Klassen said.

Klassen was hoping to read the findings once the process was complete, but was told the information is not being released.

She got the same message after filing a Freedom of Information and receiving 59 pages of redacted documents and a letter explaining all aspects of the review are being withheld for confidentiality issues.

Klassen said she doesn't understand why the public isn't allowed to see information about public consultations.

"[The report] belongs to the people who wrote it," she said. "It bothers me that parents were asked to engage, parents engaged, and then the information is going to be buried."

Review findings 'actively being considered' but will not be released: Ministry

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education said findings from the review are "actively being considered as part of the current funding model review process that is underway."

The website with information about the review has been removed, although a cached version can still be found online.

Klassen said she doesn't understand why people should take part in government consultations if the information they provide will be withheld from the public. She argues that it will harm future consultations.

"It's no wonder people don't bother voting. It's no wonder people don't get involved," she said.

"The time and money that went into collecting the information is our time, and our money. Knowledge is power and that knowledge needs to be in the hands of the people. It belongs to the public."

For more stories from northern British Columbia, subscribe to the weekly CBC Daybreak North podcast.

Read the response to Klassen's request.