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Information commissioner ‘disappointed’ with health minister’s comments on access to records

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, Thursday, October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — The federal information ombudsman says she’s disappointed by Health Minister Patty Hajdu‘s comments dismissing the need to bolster access to government records.

Hajdu rebuffed a Conservative MP’s call Thursday for release of federal records on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying no Canadian has asked her to give more resources to the officials who process Access to Information requests.

Hajdu said in the House of Commons that people want to ensure resources are devoted to the health, safety and economic prosperity of Canada.

Read more: Access to Information requests backlogged due to lack of resources: commissioner

Information commissioner Caroline Maynard tweeted Friday she is very disappointed by the statement, given that she has “sounded the alarm” on a need for more resources to get documents out the door during the pandemic.

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The Conservatives presented a motion in the Commons calling for release of a wide array of government records about actions concerning COVID-19.

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Since the onset of the pandemic, Maynard has urged the government to make more funds available to cope with both the delays attributable to the pandemic itself and an expected surge in requests about COVID-19.