A new report has named Ambulance New Brunswick as this year’s most secretive provincial government agency in Canada.
A cadre of press-freedom groups hand out the Code of Silence Award every year to draw attention to government agencies that “put extra effort into denying access to government information.”
The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), Centre for Free Expression at Ryerson University (CFE), News Media Canada and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) are the four advocacy groups which comprise the awards jury.
The groups said that Ambulance New Brunswick deserved the award for refusing for several months to disclose records related to “the frequency of ambulances taken off the road due to lack of staff.”
The group said in a statement that Ambulance New Brunswick attempted to stymy multiple requests for the information, appealed a provincial department’s decision to release the agency’s monthly report cards, selectively released performance data that was deemed “favourable to the agency” and allegedly asked the provincial paramedic union to not speak publicly about staffing issues.
The provincial government eventually intervened, forcing the taxpayer-funded organization to provide the data.
“Ambulance New Brunswick has a duty to be transparent with the people it serves so the company can be held accountable for the quality of care it provides,” said James L. Turk, director of the Centre for Free Expression, in a press release.
The award announcement came the day of a new government plan to improve ambulance response times.