Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay says the Yukon government needs to have a clearer process for its new open data portal. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

YG’s information portal needs work, says Information and Privacy Commissioner

No timelines for publishing information is one concern

There are holes in the Yukon government’s newfangled open data portal, according to the Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“There are no timelines or process or anything, unfortunately,” Diane McLeod-McKay told the News, adding that it’s unclear whom Yukoners can speak with if they need help with their requests.

Unveiled on June 25, the portal is a means to make information more readily available, officials say, while reducing the number of access to information requests.

It appears to be a work in progress, a medium that sources new information from residents — if something isn’t there, Yukoners can ask for it, then, over the course of an undetermined time, it will appear on the portal.

When someone makes a formal information request using the access to information legislation, the government has 30 days to respond. It can, however, call for an extension, bumping that up to 90.

Last week a reporter with the News asked how long it would take for a request to add information to the portal to be completed. Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn essentially said then that there are no timeframes to follow.

McLeod-McKay sees a problem with this.

“I think one of our recommendations would be to develop a process so that certain things occur, describe the process so people know what to expect, identify some timeframes, even if they’re estimates,” she said, adding that formal comments are going to be sent to the department eventually.

“The purpose of it is to make information accessible to the public so that they can make decisions and hold government to account on certain issues that may be occurring, and if you’re having to wait a significant amount of time to do that, then that’s sort of undermining the whole right of access to information and the reasons that timelines exist, because part of your suite of rights is to get information in a timely manner.”

There should be a policy put in place that standardizes how long it will take to have information posted online, McLeod-McKay said. If the department can’t meet a tentative deadline, that should be communicated clearly, she added.

A spokesperson with the department said residents wanting a time-limited response should file an ATIPP.

“We will make our best efforts to publish new datasets that meet the criteria for online posting as soon as possible, as long as those datasets are part of the existing data holdings of the Yukon government,” said Brittany Cross in a written statement, noting a tool available for Yukoners to submit feedback. “Our default position is ‘if this data exists, make it available to the public.’”

Parameters are in not sharing data that would harm someone or a resource, she continued.

“Dataset requests are collected from the portal and routed to departments for processing. In some cases, the requested dataset may not be available because it does not exist, or meet the guidelines for release.”

There’s another matter that needs tending to, according to McLeod-McKay. Complicating user experience further is that residents appear to be unassisted when navigating the portal and filling out requests, she said.

“I think that needs to be really clear so individuals can pickup the phone and get some information.”

Cross said there’s an email address for residents to access if they need help with the service: eservices@gov.yk.ca.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwanlin Dün, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council asking people to refrain from using settlement lands

“…We don’t want to prohibit people, but at the same time, we need our land to take a rest”

Yukon continues heading towards Phase 3 of reopening

‘We can not let our guard down now’, premier says

Court hears petition to shut down alleged Pelly Crossing bootlegger

Richard Hager did not oppose the application in court July 13

City parks patio proposal

Council will not move forward with changes to patio rules this year

WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for July 15, 2020

Yukon Party announces new critic roles

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon announced the party’s caucus critic roles in… Continue reading

Victoria Gold reports small water spill at Eagle Gold mine

No waterways are believed to have been contaminated

Court appearance in fatal Whitehorse pedestrian crash bumped to August

A Whitehorse driver charged in the 2019 death of a pedestrian has… Continue reading

RCMP investigating forcible confinement and sexual assault case

Whitehorse RCMP announced in a press release on July 8 that three… Continue reading

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Air North grounds Ottawa route for the season

Passengers will be given a 24-month travel credit

COMMENTARY: Yukon’s healthy land and forests are essential services

Joe Copper Jack & Katarzyna Nowak Special to the News As essential… Continue reading

Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in schedule byelection for chief

The byelection to select the next Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in chief will happen on… Continue reading

Most Read