Crown corps to see extra scrutiny

Yukon's Crown corporations would have to comply with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act if the government follows through with tweaks it tabled in the legislature recently.

Yukon’s Crown corporations would have to comply with the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act if the government follows through with tweaks it tabled in the legislature recently.

One of the most significant changes would be to extend the law’s reach to include Yukon Energy, Yukon College, the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Also included are Yukon’s child and youth advocate, the housing corporation, the liquor corporation and the lottery commission.

Tracy-Anne McPhee, Yukon’s information and privacy commissioner, greets the changes as welcome, if not long overdue. She and her predecessor had called for the territory to overhaul the law since 2000.

“It’s taken an extraordinarily long time,” she said.

One of McPhee’s biggest disappointments with the changes is that municipal governments would still not be covered by the law. She says they should be.

So should school boards, she said.

The changes “leave the door open” for school boards being included, but it remains unclear whether they will be or not.

She’s equally torn over a proposed requirement for the territory to conduct a comprehensive review of the law every six years. McPhee has long called for such a review – but she isn’t happy with how the clock would only start when the amendments are adopted.

This means the territory could wait until 2015 before conducting such a review. That’s far too long, said McPhee.

The territory began a limited review in autumn of last year, which resulted in the changes currently being floated.

McPhee sees other shortfalls. She wishes the territory had adopted her recommendation to allow fees to be waived when someone has requested documents that are deemed to be in the public interest to be released.

The territory also discarded her request that the updated law allow her, as commissioner, to appeal any government decision in the Supreme Court.

The amendments received first reading on Monday. It remains unclear when the changes would become enacted.

“I hope sooner, rather than later,” said McPhee.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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