Office of the Ombudsman / Child and Youth Advocate

Ombudsman comments on proposed access and privacy legislation (09/06/09)

NB 824

June 9, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - Ombudsman Bernard Richard is encouraged that government is moving ahead with legislative reform to the province's privacy and access laws, but remains concerned that the proposed law may result in less access to information, and weaker privacy protections.

Richard has written to the chair of the Law Amendments Committee and to the House leaders to express reservations about Bill 89, the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, introduced on May 29.

Richard is pleased to see improvements in the new bill, including a clearer definition and expanded scope of government bodies, but does not think that it sufficiently sets out or protects the right to government information, and is abandoning the well-established formulation of privacy principles set out in the current Protection of Personal Information Act.

Also of concern is the exclusion from the law of records relating to the legal affairs of the attorney general, an unprecedented exclusion that is not found in any other Canadian jurisdiction.

"On this specific issue we are leading the country, but heading in the wrong direction," said Richard.

The bill is scheduled to be debated in the legislative assembly in the next two weeks, and Richard hopes to see some additional improvements to it before it passes into law.

09/06/09

MEDIA CONCTACT: Bernard Richard, Office of the Ombudsman, 506-453-2789, or 1-888-465-1100.

09/06/09