Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mr. Hudak where were you?

Dear Mr Hudak,

As you know, under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and effective January 1, 2012, section 65 of the Act was amended to exclude records relating to the provision of abortion services.

The effect of section 65 (5.7) of the Act is that individuals no longer have a right to make access requests under Part II of FIPPA to an institution for records in the custody or under the control of that institution relating to the provision of abortion services:
(5.7) This Act does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services. 2010, c. 25, s. 24 (17)

This amendment to FIPPA was very quietly slipped in as part of Bill 122: An Act to increase the financial accountability of organizations in the broader public sector.

Mr. Hudak, you might want to read this article published today in the Calgary Herald written by Margaret Somerville.

Dr. Somerville says about these changes:
This change has ethical implications. It might also raise legal issues. For in-stance, a right to freedom of speech is seriously cur-tailed if one is prevented from obtaining the facts needed to form one's opinion. And we often speak of such restrictions, when they are imposed in non-democratic countries, as a breach of human rights...

FIPPA is meant to augment the transparency, openness and accountability of all levels of government for their decisions and actions, and our right, as Canadian citizens, to participate in democracy and democratic decision-making. My guess is that if the same approach were taken to information on breast cancer, people would be outraged.”

To be very clear, this issue is not a pro-life or a pro-choice issue. It is a pro-democracy issue, or to be more exact, this is an anti-democracy issue. Because it doesn't matter if you are pro-life or you are pro-choice. The result is that all access to abortion related information in the province of Ontario is now prohibited. It is comprehensive.

To frame this a bit differently and to expand on what Dr. Somerville says, can you imagine what would have happened in Ontario, if the exclusion clause instead excluded "breast cancer services"? This would mean that we would no longer know how many women get breast cancer, how many die from breast cancer, and whether or not our Ontario health care system was taking care of women who have breast cancer, and what the outcome was of their breast cancer treatment. The outrage would be deafening.

In light of these facts, and as leader of the official opposition in Ontario, and since your role as Opposition leader is to keep government accountable, can you please answer the following questions for me about this bill?

1) Why were abortion services the only "medical procedure" excluded from FIPPA?

2) This exclusion was never debated or even mentioned in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Can you please tell me why you and your party did not object to this exclusion, and never raised a red flag to the people of Ontario?

3) You did not vote against the third reading of this bill. Can you please tell me why?

I look forward to receiving your reply at your earliest possible convenience.

Thank you.

Patricia Maloney

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