The Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation is one step closer to passing its own Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The First Nation held community consultations on the proposed law on Wednesday, the last major step before the legislation is voted on at the general assembly in March.
The act is part of the implementation of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in land claims agreement, and will bring the First Nation government up to par with the standard federal and territorial privacy legislation.
“There is a certain amount of information sharing that happens between governments, and in order to share it all sides need to have privacy legislation in place. Particularly around programs and services that we’re delivering to our citizens, (the Yukon government) wants us to have privacy legislation like this,” said Monina Wittfoth, Tr’ondek Hwech’in’s policy and legislation manager.
The Nacho Nyak Dun and Champagne and Aishihik First Nations have similar pieces of legislation, Wittfoth said.
Wittfoth said the core of the act is protecting Tr’ondek citizens’ personal information, but the legislation will also act as a formal vehicle for people requesting information, including private citizens, other levels of government and journalists.
The consultations went well, Wittfoth said, and yielded some strong advice from some Tr’ondek Hwech’in citizens.
“One of TH’s citizens is a privacy officer for the Yukon government as part of her job, and other people had actually worked in areas that had a lot to do with privacy. One of them has worked in the hospital for years, handling very private records, so we got a lot of good feedback. It was very helpful,” Wittfoth said.
The legislation has been in the works for a while, and already been to chief and council twice. It will briefly cross their desks once more before going to the general assembly in March where it will be put to a vote. If it passes, there will be an implementation period to phase in the new rules and tackle the arduous task of data management.
Because Tr’ondek Hwech’in’s records are split across many media including paper and digital copies, it will all have to be collected into central databanks, Wittfoth said.
And, assuming it passes, anyone wanting access to this information will soon have a legislative key designed to open them.
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