Frequently Asked Questions About Open Information
Open Information is the B.C. government’s portal to proactively released records, Freedom of Information requests and tools to request public documents.
Both sites – Open Information and DataBC – provide access to public information and data so that you can collaborate with government on improving policy and service delivery.
Use Open Information to access releases of government documents and travel expense information for government officials.
DataBC is more than just public information. Use it to access raw provincial data and tools to conduct your own research, analyze statistics or develop apps.
Citizens are entitled to see how senior officials are spending public money to travel for government business. In fact, travel expense details for Ministers and Deputy Ministers were among the most commonly-requested pieces of public information before government began proactively releasing the records. The government publishes this information online so that British Columbians no longer have to formally request it.
Under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the government releases ministry records on a request-by-request basis. Some examples of public information commonly requested for release include: policy decisions on health care, decisions about road allowances, or spending related to environmental issues.
Information will be released to the applicant who requested it and then published online no sooner than 5 business days after release.
Technology is making it possible for everyone to have more direct interactions with government. Having public information available online makes it easier to access information about government that specifically interests you.
In fact, the Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Legislative Assembly's Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act have recommended that government routinely disclose more public information using online technology.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act gives you the right to request public information and requires government to respond to those requests. Some requested information does not have to be disclosed if the Act permits government to withhold it. For example, information presented in a cabinet meeting or information identifying other persons would be withheld. If you are unsatisfied with government’s response to a request, you have the right to ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the response. There are no rights to review information published on this website. For more information contact Information Access Operations.
Not all requests require payment. Releases of specific information may be subject to fees based on the amount of work required to process each request. Individuals requesting their own personal information are never charged a fee.
The general compensation and allowances for MLAs, including those MLAs who are ministers, are published on the Legislative Assembly website, reflecting their activities and travel in their MLA roles. The government website will publish travel expenses for ministers on government business.
Public information is available from this website for a minimum of 2 years after it has been released.
Information that has been released by request will be posted regularly – even daily, in some cases.
Electronic documents are submitted in different formats. Scanned documents are in an image format which makes it difficult to search their contents. The Open Information document search will help you locate documents by key words, ministry name and file name.
B.C. takes the management of information and the protection of privacy seriously and we are legally obliged to meet all the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA).
FOIPPA prohibits the public release of some types of information. Some examples of these exemptions include personal information about citizens, discussions confidential to cabinet and information that could harm the business interests of a third party. This means that all details that meet these exceptions must be removed from the information releases prior to being posted online.
Releasing any of this information would be in contravention of the act.
Citizens will always have the right to submit freedom of information requests because FOIPPA gives the public a right of access to public documents.
The proactive release of information requests is one way we are now sharing and making more information available. This is a first step and government will continue to build on the recently-launched open data and information tools.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act covers more than 2,900 public bodies, more than any other jurisdiction in Canada. While FOIPPA applies to Crown Corporations and other government agencies, right now the Open Information and Open Data Policy applies only to government ministries.