In January, 2012, the Ontario government quietly slipped in an amendment to the provincial Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) whereby all information related to abortion is no longer accessible via an Access To Information and Privacy (ATIP) request. Section 65(5.7) reads: “This Act does not apply to records relating to the provision of abortion services.” Note that one of the FIPPA’s purposes is to guarantee access to government information to maintain transparency and accountability. Yet this addition undermines this purpose and was never debated in the Legislature.
Patricia Maloney, a pro-life blogger who we have regular contact with and who has done excellent work using ATIPs, ran up against this roadblock in January 2014. When her request for statistical information was denied (under the new provision) she appealed the decision on her own, but lost. She then retained a lawyer on a pro bono basis and appealed again. After a third appeal, she finally received the information late last year. The government released this information to her “outside of the FIPPA process” mere days before her hearing in court. But the bad law remains on the books.
ARPA Canada and Patricia Maloney are now challenging the law itself as unconstitutional. We have filed a notice of application asking the Ontario Superior Court to strike down section 65(5.7) of Ontario’s FIPPA. Freedom of Information is guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, falling under the freedom of expression protection. A successful Charter challenge would produce the information we are looking for, would require the Ontario legislature to amend the legislation, and would expose the extremism of the Ontario government in banning all information, including basic statistical information, from the citizens of Ontario in order to hide the injustice of abortion.
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