Request to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for investigation

November 3, 2016

 

Mr. Michael McEvoy

Deputy Commissioner

Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner

947 Fort Street, 4th Floor

Victoria BC V8V 3K3

 

Dear Mr. McEvoy,

 

IntegrityBC would request that the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner open an investigation into the Government of B.C. and the Ministry of Health’s handling of all access to information requests filed from January 1, 2011 to November 1, 2016 in regards to any matter related to the Therapeutics Initiative, lobbying by pharmaceutical firms or related associations, the 2012 firings of eight health ministry employees and/or contractors, and any subsequent investigations into those firings.

We know of access to information requests filed by those fired, political parties and the news media, among others. Most resulted in “no records.” Some resulted in a heavily redacted single email (https://www.biv.com/article/2015/10/provincial-health-ministry-kept-only-one-email-abo/).

In light of news that at least four million relevant documents exist, we request that the Office conduct an investigation, in a systemic manner into – but not limited to – the following issues:

  1. The government and ministry’s handling of all access to information requests pertaining to these matters;
  2. Whether “sensitive records” stored at 4000 Seymour Place, Victoria, B.C. were relevant to any of those requests at the time they were filed;
  3. Whether other unrelated access to information requests that resulted in “no records” had relevant documents stored at 4000 Seymour Place;
  4. The role of Hooper Consulting in creating an inventory of records for the ministry between October and December 2015 and a subsequent “review of sensitive material” by Hooper Consulting in 2016;
  5. Any potential issues related to the discovery process in regards to civil lawsuits resulting from the 2012 firings;
  6. Why a non-government email address is being used as the contact email for the freedom-of-information contact at the Transportation Investment Corporation (http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/open-government/open-information/freedom-of-information/crown-corporation-contacts);
  7. Whether the government withheld relevant information from Marcia MacNeil in her 2014 investigation into the firings that may have had an impact on her findings;
  8. Why it was not until November 2015 that specific instructions were communicated to government employees not to destroy related documents (http://thetyee.ca/News/2015/11/24/Health-Ministry-Firings-Records/); and
  9. How it is the government or ministry could claim “no records” when hundreds of emails were leaked to The Tyee in 2014 (http://thetyee.ca/News/2014/10/21/Health-Ministry-Firings/).

It is likely that we will amend this list with additional items in the coming days.

We have a number of documents in our possession that may also be of assistance to the office.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dermod Travis

Executive Director