Nova Scotia Domestic Violence Action Plan Update 2012
Domestic Violence Action Plan
On Nov. 20, 2012, Justice Minister Ross Landry announced the Transgendered Persons Protection Act. This Act makes it clear that Nova Scotians cannot be denied a job, a place to live or service at a business because they are transgender. Nova Scotia is the fourth jurisdiction in Canada to include a specific reference to gender identity in its human rights legislation.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP) is the third generation of access to information legislation in Nova Scotia. In 1978, Nova Scotia was the first Province in Canada to pass access to information legislation. It is also the first enactment requiring the privacy rights of individuals be protected. Today’s FOIPOP Act has evolved to balance an individual’s right to access information with the protection of individual privacy.
The NS FOIPOP Act provides a formal process to obtain access to records held by the N.S. Government, its departments, agencies, boards and commissions. The list of other government “public bodies” is noted for “greater certainty” in the FOIPOP Schedule I. Since November 2000, FOIPOP also applies to records retained by school boards, schools, district health authorities, hospitals, children’s aid societies, universities and community colleges. All of these organizations fall under the definition of a “public body”, which also may include organizations whose boards of directors are all appointed by the provincial cabinet, or whose employees act as “public officers or servants of the crown” in the “discharge of their duties”. One example is the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission. Municipalities are subject to similar freedom of information and protection of privacy provisions in Part XX of the Municipal Government Act.
This legislation has been described by the courts as the most liberal in Canada, and exemptions from disclosure are limited and narrow in scope. These exemptions are designed to: protect against the unreasonable invasion of personal privacy or personal harm; prevent unfair competitive advantage occurring in commercial or government transactions; safeguard law enforcement activities; ensure the confidential relationship between the “public body” and its lawyers; respect the confidentiality of intergovernmental negotiations; and protect the economic or financial interests of the government in certain matters. All, or parts of, Cabinet and legally authorized in camera meeting records of universities, school boards, district health authorities and municipalities may be exempt, but are subject to disclosure under certain conditions.
Not all records held by a “public body” or a “municipality” are subject to FOIPOP. The FOIPOP Act does not apply to the following kinds of information:
There are provisions in other statutes which prohibit or restrict the disclosure of information such as maintenance enforcement records, hospital patient records etc. The list of these prevailing statutes can be found in subsection 4A(2) of the FOIPOP Act and subsection 464A(2) in Part XX of the Municipal Government Act. There may also be provisions restricting or prohibiting the disclosure of information in other statutes that specifically state that they prevail over FOIPOP.
If records are subject to exemption, the legislation also requires severing or extraction of information if it can reasonably be done. Thus, if “exempted” information can reasonably be separated from “non-exempt” information as part of the requested records, then the public body or municipality must disclose the “non-exempt” information.