P.E.I. government redacts information from document it's already made public

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Opposition 'deeply skeptical' about freedom of information review

Opposition 'deeply skeptical' about freedom of information review

The P.E.I. government says "human error" led it to redact information it had already made public from a document obtained under the province's Freedom of Information legislation.

CBC News filed a request in January 2017, seeking information on the province's plans to implement a carbon tax.

In response the province provided 228 pages comprised of various documents, with much of the information severed or redacted.

The information included a cover letter explaining information had been removed because it was protected under two different sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act: one section allowing information to be withheld if it includes confidential information provided to cabinet ministers, and another section allowing information to be withheld if it includes advice or recommendations for a government or public body.

Redacted information already released by government

The problem is, some of the information that was withheld had already been released to the public, and is freely available on the province's website.

One of the documents government provided in response to the request is a draft of a report from Dunsky Energy Consulting entitled Recommendations for the Development of a 2016 Climate Change Mitigation Strategy.

The exact same draft document was made public by the province in October 2016, and is still available on government's website.

But the copy provided to CBC News in response to its Freedom of Information request includes 28 different sections where information was severed by government from the document.

Most of the severed sections include recommendations on how P.E.I. could reduce its carbon emissions. All of the severed information is included in the public version of the document.

'We apologize for the confusion'

"Unfortunately there was a human error that resulted in partial information being redacted from a public document," a spokesperson for the P.E.I. Department of Land, Communities and Environment in an email today.

The department explained the person redacting the documents thought they were providing a draft version of a newer document — which will soon be released publicly.

"The government employee working on your FOIPP request intended to redact the updated recommendations in the document being released in the next couple of weeks (not public yet), but in error redacted the earlier version already made public.

"We apologize for the confusion."

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