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BC SPCA left out of FOI coverage, despite recommendations

As politicians consider giving the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals more money in the wake of sled dog killings in Whistler, they might also consider acting on a recommendation to bring the agency under more public oversight.

The SPCA is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, even though it receives public money and has a legislated regulatory function. Committees recommended in 2004 and 2010 exploring bringing the agency under the province's FOI law.

"[Information about] public money exercised for a public purpose should be accessible," said Vincent Gogolek, executive director for the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. "The recommendation of the special committee seems to make some kind of sense."

In May, 2010, a Special Committee to Review the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act recommended that access rights for SPCA records be made, but only for records that relate to the society's statutory powers (see page 9).

Following the news of the killing of 100 healthy sled dogs in Whistler after the Olympics, the B.C. SPCA has reportedly said it is seeking another $1 million in funding and Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart has said funding to the society has quadrupled over the last 10 years.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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