June 22, 2015 8:18 pm
Updated: June 23, 2015 3:36 pm

Sask. privacy laws outdated and difficult to navigate: commissioner


REGINA – Saskatchewan’s new Information and Privacy Commissioner is recommending sweeping changes to what he calls outdated legislation.

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) has not had a major update since it was enacted 23 years ago.

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“I’ve always been of the opinion that a piece of legislation should be reviewed every ten years,” said Ronald Kruzeniski, following the submission of his first annual report as commissioner.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan privacy commissioner resigns

However, the FOIP act has only had minor amendments since it was enacted in 1992 and it’s not keeping pace with other provinces. One concern for the commissioner is instances of so-called snooping by public employees.

“Sometimes malicious snooping into records that an employee has absolutely no right to look at,” he said. “We have come into cases where people have snooped 400 times into a database. I think there was one where it looked like someone had snooped 1,400 times.”

The privacy commissioner outlines 35 recommendations to transform the legislation. For instance, he wants to be notified of all privacy breaches, similar to what’s done in Alberta.

Kruzeniski is asking for police forces to be bound by access and privacy provisions.

“Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces whose privacy legislation doesn’t cover the police, so it’s certainly something that we want to give some thought to,” said Justice Minister Gord Wyant.

One figure that’s troubling for both the commissioner and the opposition NDP: 25 per cent of the privacy reports about public bodies are ignored.

“A year from now if it was 25 per cent, I would be seriously concerned because it’s kind of a blatant disregard of what the legislation says,” said Kruzeniski.

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The government partly blames the delay on a sharp increase in the number of requests.

“Especially within the Ministry of Health, some of the requests for information are extensive and that takes a considerable amount of time,” said Wyant.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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