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Watchdog calls for changes to B.C.'s information laws
A government watchdog is calling for changes to B.C.'s information laws in the wake of accusations levelled at the province's citizens' services minister.
Jinny Sims was accused by a fired former staffer of breaking B.C.'s freedom of information rules.
Sims is the minister of citizens' services, which deals with services ranging from B.C. services cards to freedom of information.
Sims allegedly instructed her constituency staff to communicate with her via unconventional channels such as iMessage, WhatsApp and personal email while doing government business, according to a letter that was released this week by the Opposition BC Liberals.
The province's information commissioner says he can't investigate the matter, because the law says Sims has authority over the issue.
That has led to calls of change from the B.C. Freedom of Information Association.
"To not be able to actually investigate a complaint because of this act is crazy," said Sara Neuert, the watchdog's executive director. "We need that external oversight. We need to give our regulators more powers because we're dealing with so many scandals."
The letter was drafted by a lawyer on behalf of Kate Gillie, who worked as a constituency assistant for Sims for about six weeks earlier this year.
It claims the minister told Gillie "to only communicate using these methods in order to avoid her communication from being captured by Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act law."
Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby said on Monday they had not seen the letter, but would look at it right away.