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May 13, 2010

Newfoundland and Labrador Receives High Grade in
National Freedom of Information Audit

This week the Canadian Newspaper Association (CNA) released its 2009-10 National Freedom of Information Audit and awarded Newfoundland and Labrador a B- grade. Each year the CNA releases an audit of responses to freedom of information requests made to provinces, the Federal Government, municipalities and this year included universities.

"The grade of B- from the Canadian Newspaper Association further demonstrates that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is open and accountable to the people of our province," said the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister of Justice and Attorney General. "The Provincial Government ranked high in disclosure to the requests of the auditors and as well, ranked second best among the provinces in responding within the nationally accepted period of 30 days to freedom of information requests."

The CNA requested information from all provincial governments in Canada related to use of cell phones by transportation departments, receipts and reimbursements of premiers or designates to attend the 2009 annual premiers' meeting in Regina, electronic lists of freedom of information requests received by justice departments, H1N1 communications materials and education department's plans for dealing with H1N1. The CNA audit assigned the B- grade on a points system based upon responses to these requests, including the type of disclosure, length of time to respond and fee estimates provided by the respondents.

The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is the legislation in Newfoundland and Labrador under which requests for information are made and was used by the CNA for this audit. Currently, this legislation is undergoing a statutory review as per section 74 of the act and public input is being sought by review commissioner John Cummings, Q.C.

"The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is important legislation for our province and this audit clearly indicates this legislation is working for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Minister Collins. "I look forward to the submissions of the public and to receiving the final report of Commissioner Cummings and his recommendations pertaining to this legislation."

"The Williams Government has a strong record of openness and accountability which includes establishing the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, introducing the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, as well as the Lobbyist Registration Act and the Transparency and Accountability Act," said Minister Collins. "Our government is committed to acting in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and that includes ensuring open and timely access to information which they request."

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Media contact:
Ken Morrissey
Director of Communications
Department of Justice
709-729-6985, 685-6612

2010 05 13                                                    4:35 p.m.

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