Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Brian Beamish, provided his comments this afternoon to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on Bill 84, the Medical Assistance in Dying Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017.
The submission focuses on a single aspect of Bill 84. The bill proposes to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and its municipal counterpart, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, to provide that these laws exclude information that identifies facilities providing services related to medical assistance in dying.
Our office objects to this exclusion. The public’s “right to know” is a fundamental principle of freedom of information legislation. Providing members of the public with access to information that identifies facilities will promote transparency, accountability and meaningful public debate, which are essential to the proper functioning of a democracy. Further, no evidence has been provided to justify this erosion of the public’s right-to-know nor why existing provisions of the act are insufficient.
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