Islanders 'more willing' to challenge decisions: P.E.I. privacy commissioner

·2 min read

Prince Edward Island's information and privacy commissioner said her office continues to struggle with an increased workload of access-to-information requests and other files.

More staff could help, Denise Doiron told host Louise Martin on CBC News: Compass.

"But there are some other things that we're looking at, too, to be able to try and address the volume of work that we have here," she said.

That includes coming up with policies and procedures that would help both people applying for information and the provincial bodies that are supposed to supply it, said Doiron.

The privacy commissioner's job is to respond to complaints from Islanders about a response or lack of response they receive from a provincial government body.

And the number of Islanders complaining has grown a lot in the last few years.

People are a bit more comfortable or maybe a bit more willing to challenge the decisions of public bodies. — Denise Doiron

"I don't know if I would say that more people are unhappy, but there are a lot more reviews coming through," said Doiron.

"People are a bit more comfortable or maybe a bit more willing to challenge the decisions of public bodies when they don't provide certain information."

Office has 3 staff members

Doiron also said the volume of requests went up after the Health Information Act was proclaimed in 2017, and when seven new local public bodies were brought under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in 2019.

Right now, her office, which has three total staff, has 180 files open, compared with just 52 total files open in 2017.

"So that gives you some idea of how much things have increased over the last few years," said Doiron.

Privacy investigations prioritized

Doiron said her office tries to prioritize privacy investigations.

"It is personal information and it is very important to individuals to ensure their privacy is being protected," she said.

"And if something has gone wrong to find out what went wrong and what can be done to alleviate either the effects or to make sure it doesn't happen again to somebody else."

She also said they try to address access-to-information requests "in a more expedient manner."

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