A northern municipality is being taken to task for failure to comply with access to information standards.
According to a report released by Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Gary Dickson Monday, the Northern Village of Pinehouse failed to properly handle two separate access to information requests initially issued last April.
Dickson says his office tried to provide to the village with guidelines on how to meet the requests but contact was eventually cut off.
“We just reached a point where they wouldn’t speak with us, wouldn’t provide us with information,” he says. “We were actually trying to assist them to do what they needed to be compliant with the law but you can’t work with somebody that is not willing to work with you.”
Nevertheless, Dickson says he does realize many smaller municipalities in the province, like Pinehouse, simply lack the proper resources and training to adequately respond to information requests in a timely manner.
This is why in his report he recommends a separate office be set up within the provincial government to assist rural municipalities with better handling information requests.
Dickson says this office could be set up within the Ministry of Government Relations.
He adds all Saskatchewan citizens have the same rights to public information and privacy, regardless of where they live.
“The law says that citizens in our province have certain rights to access records and have their privacy protected and the rights shouldn’t depend on what your postal code is.”
The privacy commissioner is also recommending Pinehouse comply with the requests of his office within 15 days and that the provincial government move ahead with prosecution if this fails to happen.
If prosecution were to move forward, penalties could be as high as $1,000.
In his report, Dickson also says Pinehouse Mayor Mike Natomagan failed to properly grant the village administrator the authority to process the information requests.