One year after the provincial government was applauded for a new transparency policy, that policy is now being used to accuse the Liberals of being secretive.
Last year, Premier Christy Clark announced that her government would be the first province in Canada to post results of Freedom of Information requests online.
Now the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) is filing a complaint with B.C.'s privacy commissioner saying the province has only posted one third of such requests.
"They should be posting all of them, each and every one. There's no reason not to," said Vincent Gogolek, FIPA director.
Kim Henderson, deputy minister for the Ministry of Labour, Citizens' Services and Open Government, objected to FIPA's claim that 67 per cent of requests were not posted.
The province's 17 ministries received more than 16,000 FOI requests from April 2011 to 2012, with more than half of them directed toward the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Children and Families.
She said the government posted 57 per cent of FOI requests that were not asking for personal information such as adoption records or B.C. Corrections records.
"I don't know how the (FIPA) folks did their math. Our math is we've published 57 per cent of all of our FOI requests," she said.
Gogolek said the disparity may have occurred because FIPA counts the 24 per cent of FOI applicants who were told there was no information available whereas the ministry may not.
He said either way that's still 43 per cent of responses not posted online.
"Their own policy says everything will be posted except in limited circumstances," said Gogolek. "I don't' know anybody's calculation that 43 per cent is limited."
FOI requests are not posted if they contain personal information or anything that could harm relations with First Nations and other governments, harm third party's business interests, threaten individuals or is copyrighted.
Gogolek said those criteria are already included in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and since most responses to FOI requests would already have private or harmful information blacked out, there's no reason to withhold them.
"The so-called criteria are really just an excuse for posting or refusing to post information as they see fit, and that is not what the commissioner recommended just last year," he said.
FIPA provided 10 examples of FOI requests not posted online, and among them is the McAbee fossil site near Cache Cache.
An unnamed applicant requested copies of all communications, memo, files and reports concerning the McAbee fossil site, which the province declared a heritage site in February.
The province also issued an order ceasing a fossil operation as well as nearby industrial mineral claims operating in the deposits.
That FOI application was answered, but the public is not allowed to see the document package because it contained the personal information of the applicant, said Henderson.
"If there was a person who had had an ongoing conversation with government about a particular issue and then they FOI'd their file, when we give them their FOI file all their correspondence is given back to them so that's their personal information," she said.
A Daily News request for results of that FOI application was also denied on the same grounds.