The CBC refuses access to information requests from taxpayers but loudly complains when the government charges them fees

By Stephen Pate – CBC has constantly complained that the Harper Government and now the PEI government will not grant them access to information according to the law.

Reality Check – the CBC regularly refuses to give the least amount of information, hiding behind excuses and charging high fees.  Two requests I made about legal expenses for external legal expenses were rebuffed with fees of $1,837 according to the CBC. Previously they published the information free on the internet.

Then the CBC complains about paying $500 to the PEI government for freedom of information requests but charges taxpayers almost 4 times as much. It’s a CBC double standard and hypocritical.

Listen to the CBC complain about their having to pay $500 to the Province of PEI.

“The Department is now asking CBC News for more than $500 for the information, which the Minister of Health said he would make public without any sort of request.” CBC April 30, 2015

The publicly funded CBC have plenty of double standards. This is just one of them.

The law requires the CBC to give open access to information. The fought the case in court and lost. Since then, the CBC has blown hot and cold on letting Canadians see how the corporation is run.

“CBC/Radio-Canada became subject to the Access to Information Act on September 1, 2007. Since then the Corporation has responded to 2,013 access to information (ATI) request” CBC Access to Information

The statement says “responding” not filling. I have more than 10 requests that have been “responded” to with huge fees or redacted information. The CBC response is a sham.

I have a another freedom of information request from 2012 that the CBC will not disclose, despite voluntarily providing same information in the past without charge. I filed a complaint with the Office of Information Commissioner and they are trying to get the CBC to come across with the information.

The key to reporting news is getting the facts on time. If CBC stalls for years or puts big fees on requests they are impeding the flow of news and information. They seem to be stalling on purpose.

2013 and 2014 Legal Expense Request

The two requests I made were for “payment of 2013 and 2014 external legal fees.” I worded my request exactly like the one CBC have posted for free on their website.  I didn’t think that would be too complicated.

Imagine my surprise when I got a response with the demand for $972.50 for 2014 and $865 for 2013.  CBC Access to information A-2014-00116

The letter from Peter Hull, Director of CBC Access to Information and Privacy is so polite but obviously a corporate stall on the part of the CBC.

CBC’s complaint about PEI

P.E.I. election promises: Accountability – Freedom of information not working: Liberals

In the party platform released Wednesday, the Liberals themselves say government’s approach to freedom of information isn’t working, calling the process too slow, too cumbersome and too expensive. Wade MacLauchlan has pledged, like his Tory counterpart, to move to an “open data” concept, and the Liberals say they’ll fix freedom of information, but they don’t spell out how.

P.E.I. Health Minister Doug Currie

As health minister Doug Currie said he would move to get inspection reports for nursing homes online. (CBC)

Here’s an example of the system the Liberals say isn’t working: in May 2014 Health Minister Doug Currie made a pledge to publish, online, inspection reports from private nursing homes. Independent MLA Olive Crane had asked for the move. Currie said it would increase transparency and accountability in facilities which receive public funding.

A year later those reports are still not available.

The CBC launched a freedom of information request asking for that very information a month later. The Department of Health has opposed the request through its deputy minister, rebuffing a petition from the CBC to waive access fees, the CBC arguing the information is in the public interest. The Department is now asking CBC News for more than $500 for the information, which the Minister of Health said he would make public without any sort of request.

The case has now been appealed to the Freedom of Information Commissioner, who is overworked and who’s asked government for more resources to be able to handle cases like this in a more timely fashion. The resources have not been provided.

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