City of Iqaluit misses target of falling under access to information law
Acting chief administrative officer says city waiting on GN for training requirements
The City of Iqaluit has missed its goal of bringing itself under the territorial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and is passing the responsibility on to the Government of Nunavut.
Since councillors voted to work toward bringing the city under the act a year and a half ago, the city has been in consultation with the government.
However, acting chief administrative officer Rod Mugford said the city hasn’t started training staff and he doesn’t know where it will get more funding to administrate requests for access to information.
“We’re looking to the GN to identify and outline the training requirements,” Mugford wrote in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
Currently, the territory’s access to information act gives residents the right to access territorial government documents. The act also outlines the rights Nunavummiut have to privacy.
Municipalities don’t fall under the act, but they can join by asking the Nunavut government.
Iqaluit city council passed a motion in November 2021 to have the city work with the Nunavut government “with the goal of coming under [ATIPP] by January 2023.”
Mugford said that wasn’t a deadline.
“The motion states ‘with the goal,’ not ‘shall’ or ‘must’ be completed by January 2023,” Mugford said in an email.
Nunatsiaq News reached out to the Department of Community and Government Services but did not get a response.
Councillors made the motion in support of bringing the city under ATIPP following a presentation from Nunavut’s information and privacy commissioner, Graham Steele.
Steele said the benefits of operating under the act include gaining trust from residents, even though there would be some challenges such as staff time spent handling requests.
He said he would advocate for the city to receive government funding for staffing positions and resource management.
No one cares about this. Disgruntled employees and journalists comprise 99% of requests. GN cannot even staff the manager position let alone a coordinator for each department. I think we have reached a point where the territory should seriously consider repealing the legislation around this. I feel it does not hold government accountable any more than the media and courts do on their own.
As for the City’s excuse, it is a joke. 99% of all employees should have basic office admin skills. If you can use email, you can search keywords on email. If you can save a word document, you can save all the relevant emails and convert them to pdf. Don’t know? Google. If you can use a black marker, you can apply digital redactions with Adobe.
If no one can figure this out, and trust me the GN cannot staff this let alone do this, I think ATIP should go up to tender for each department. I know a few consultants who would gladly do the work remotely for 6 figures as it is pretty damn easy. The biggest hurdle is when bureaucrats don’t feel comfortable with someone searching through their government email account!
This comment is both factually wrong, and condescending to people who administer ATIPP. It’s clear that the poster has never had to actually review records related to a request or make the type of decisions under the act necessary for the proper administration of this function.
The ATIPP Manager has not been vacant for years, and has always had someone ensuring the functions of this position were completed.
Yes, ATIPP positions are notoriously hard to staff at the GN, mostly because they’re evaluated far lower than policy positions. Because they compete with the same talent pool, as soon as you find someone good, you tend to lose them.
Finding the information is only half the battle in completing an ATIPP request. You need to have a near encyclopedic knowledge of the legislation, be able to apply that legislation in a legalistic context, exercise your discretion to exempt information from disclosure and defend all of the above in reviews with the IPC. This is all done while attempting to navigate complicated relationships with senior managers, many of whom are outright hostile to the ATIPP process.
The main type of request isn’t actually media either, it’s staff who have grievances or harassment complaints. This means most requests involve a lot of personal information and separating out various competing privacy interests.
understanding less than 6-7 grounds to exclude is not rocket science. The majority of redactions applied are easy enough. I have worked extensively in this area for GN and it is a very easy job. ATIP staff are given a reference manual, they don’t have enclypedic knowledge of the legislation. The manager does very little if anything historically, they technically manage no one at all in terms of hierarchy. The city really has no excuse and the failure to properly staff this segment of work means it needs to be put to tender. CGS hires a huge number of individual contract project managers, HR it’s staffing consultants (Sivummut Solutions) , departments need to tender ATIP work
I have also worked extensively in ATIPP and I can tell you, if you found the work easy, I worry about the quality of product you were producing and how well you were managing privacy interests.
I do wonder about your claim about working in ATIPP because The ATIPP Manager does have a staff member (although the position is notoriously difficult to fill).
Just hiring dozens of contractors is not a sustainable solution and that attitude is the reason why internal capacity is never developed. CGS’s model is not one to copy in any way and is tragically wasteful of public funds. Why pay someone double or triple to do work that you could hire someone to do internally, especially if you had the ability to pay them on par with a policy analyst?
It’ll be a never ending training schedule, staff leaving left right and center since you took over Mr. Mugford
Simple but well said. Obviously Captain By-Law is in way over his head. The city is a mess when it comes to the administration. Hopefully with a new council and Mayor in the fall we can begin on the road to recovery. The city has so much potential but with the current group initiative goes out the window as they keep themselves in crisis mode.
Funny…I work pretty closely with (not for) the city and, if anything, I’d say the attrition rate has decreased since Rod took over. There is a revolving door in the Planning and Lands department, but the Finance, Admin, Public Works, Municipal Enforcement and Capital planning departments are all better staffed now than they have been at any point in the last 3 years.
How can anyone afford to work for The City anyway?
Interesting topic for discussion and comments. The ATIPP Act provides citizens an access to information. Do not categorize for disgruntled employees need and or for media use alone. Employee are fighting for what they believe and wanted prove that the government was wrongfully made decisions and wanted to hold them accountable through this request. You will be surprised to know what went behind the closed doors.
I understand that the ATIPP coordinator and the managers are not compensated well for the work that they do in Nunavut and have to deal with management bureaucracy, refusing to give the information and the applicants . However, I do not think they have any training provided and there are no guiding policies with GN. They have to depend on the Act to interpreting and applying legislation to redact information with their limited educational resources is very difficult to process these requests accurately.