Freedom of information advocates saw good signs Wednesday, as quicker, cheaper access to information became an election campaign issue for opposition parties.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil promised to cut the fee for a Freedom of Information request from $5, down from $5. He also said his government would review the time it takes to fulfill a request.
“It’s about accountability," McNeil said. "It’s about allowing ordinary Nova Scotians to have access to the information that they should be entitled to."
The Right to Know Coalition has been lobbying for such moves for years.
“That’s a good start,” said coalition president Darce Fardy.
“I was very pleased with that. And that they might do something to address waiting times, which is something that we’ve also had a problem with. Sometimes people are waiting 18 months.”
But Fardy wants to see even more. Government currently charges $15 per half hour to process applications. That’s led to bills of as much as $2,000, he said. Fardy wants that rate cut to a third. He also said the freedom of information review officer should report to the legislature.
NDP Leader Darrell Dexter said all of Fardy’s recommendations were good ideas, and also vowed to approve access to information.
However, he said he’d need to know the cost before cutting rates. He said a major problem is bureaucrats often refuse and delay requests, but his government would order them to comply.
rogressive Conservative spokeswoman Christina Lamey said they do not currently have any plans to lower freedom of information rates.