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Sask. NDP say higher fees are making it harder to access government information people are entitled to


The Saskatchewan NDP says the provincial government is charging unreasonable fees for freedom of information requests (FOI), documents the public has a right to ask for.

However, the NDP says the higher fees for FOIs are creating a barrier to accessing information.

As an example, the NDP said it recently wanted access to government flood risk assessments for rural Saskatchewan. For that, it filed a freedom of information request.

“The estimated fee for this public document was $107,000. Over $100,000 for a simple FOI request. Under Scott Moe, the Sask. Party has become the least transparent government in Saskatchewan’s history,” NDP MLA Erika Ritchie said.

In a written statement, the government said the Freedom of Information Act requires the collection of fees, but it did not explain why the total amount collected annually has reportedly increased so dramatically.

The NDP pointed to other less costly examples as well, $1,132 to provide copies of sales agreements for public housing units. Most recently, the NDP says it was quoted nearly $1,000 for government briefing notes on the Sunrise Motel controversy.

“Scott Moe and the Sask. Party have massively increased the fee estimates to scare away media and the public from following through on their access requests,” NDP MLA Meara Conway said.

The NDP produced a summary of FOI charges paid by MLAs, the media and the public. In 2018, the government charged $130,000 to fulfill 1893 FOI requests. In 2022, there were about 200 fewer requests but the charges came to $2.3 million.

Saskatchewan’s Information and Privacy Commissioner adjudicates access and fee disputes and said fees make it more difficult to obtain information.

“Citizens are entitled because they pay taxes to get a certain amount of information for free because they pay taxes. On the other hand, fees do provide a degree of rigour to the whole process,” Ron Kruzeniski said. Top Stories

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