Changes to Saskatchewan's privacy legislation came into effect on January 1, 2018 with The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2017 (FOIPP) and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Amendment Act, 2017 (LAFOIPP).
“The coming into force of this legislation will modernize access and privacy in Saskatchewan and ensure we are consistent with other Canadian jurisdictions,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said. “We thank the Information and Privacy Commissioner for working with us on these changes, and look forward to continuing to work with him to maintain the appropriate balance between access and privacy in Saskatchewan.”
In our community, it shouldn't mean a lot of changes.
"Freedom of information legislation has been prominent in most of the other provinces throughout the country for many years," explained Estevan Police Chief, Paul Ladouceur. "And this province has opted to follow suit. What it is, is it gives people the ability to make a request. It doesn't necessarily guarantee that they're going to get that information. There are caveats where the police can withhold information. For example, in an active investigation, if it would put somebody else at harm."
Ladouceur added that this is not a new practice for the Estevan Police Service.
"The other part of this is it's not something new for us. We have often cooperated with people when they've said, "Can I get a copy of my statement?" or "Can I get a copy of my accident report?""
"We've been doing this for years. And even in this province, we've been doing it for years, it's just come in the form of somebody making that phone call or sending us a letter asking for that request. The only thing this is doing a little different is it's legislating it. It's not an option to say no, you have to look at each case individually and say, "Are we legally bound to release this?" And if so, what needs to be vetted from that information to protect the identify of certain individuals."
He used the example of if you are involved in an incident where others are also involved and they want copies of that report.
"We still have to protect your information. We can't just give out that copy of the report which may contain your home address and phone number and things like that. So that information would need to be vetted."
"We've always been a transparent organization, that's my philosophy. This is a public service and certainly if the public has questions, we welcome them."
Ladouceur also mentioned that information will be on their new website that they hope to launch in February.
Some of the amendments include:
- a duty for government institutions and local authorities to assist applicants in obtaining information and a duty to protect personal information;
- extension of the privacy requirements under FOIPP to MLA and cabinet ministers’ offices;
- extension of LAFOIPP to include police services;
- increasing the penalties for offences; and
- creation of a new offence for snooping by an employee of a government institution or local authority.