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Vancouver: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) wants the Information and Privacy Commissioner to initiate an investigation into the Ministry of Finance for withholding legally accessible information from the union.

CUPE made the request to the commissioner today, citing four freedom of information (FOI) requests filed over the last eight months where the Ministry of Finance has systematically failed to honour time limits spelled-out in the act, or assist applicants as required in the legislation.

“Instead of casting light on government policies and programs, the Ministry of Finance has been a black hole for information requests,” says Colleen Jordan, secretary-treasurer of CUPE BC. “The ministry acknowledges receipt of the request, and then months and deadlines pass and you never hear from them again.”

Last November, the union asked the Ministry of Finance for government studies documenting the impact of proposed cuts on provincial staffing and spending. CUPE also requested information on government’s plans to use “public private partnerships” to finance provincial capital projects such as highways, schools and hospitals.

But months later, the union still hasn’t received the information.

Keith Reynolds, the CUPE researcher who filed the FOI requests, is appalled by the government’s hypocrisy. “In opposition, the Campbell Liberals championed the importance of freedom of information in holding a government accountable, and they filed an average of 35 requests a month,” he states.

Although they promised in their election platform to provide “the most open, accountable and democratic government in Canada,” Reynolds says, “the Campbell government is not open, it’s hermetically sealed.”

CUPE isn’t the only union that has been denied access to information. Earlier this week, Hospital Employees’ Union issued a release documenting problems obtaining information from the premier’s office about health care privatization.

The union has asked the commissioner’s office to conduct the investigation under section 42 (a) of the act, which enables the commissioner to conduct investigations and audits to ensure compliance with the act.

“At the end of the day, the ministry must be held accountable for its actions,” says Ms. Jordan. “That’s why we want an investigation.”

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For more information: Colleen Jordan or Keith Reynolds at