FOI REVIEW COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION
REGARDING THE STATUS OF THE
BCSPCA MAY 2004
why the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
was assigned the dual status of a public body and a non-profit
society in the first place and whether there is a case for
clarifying or even changing its status."
May 2004 report by the Special Committee that reviewed the
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act during
the Fifth Session of the Thirty-seventh Parliament is called:
"The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Enhancing the Province's Public Sector Access and Privacy
Report-links and excerpt
from pages 11 and 12 below:
* Main entry page to
*PDF Version of Report
Blair Lekstrom, MLA Chair Peace River South; Mike Hunter,
MLA Deputy Chair Nanaimo; Bill Belsey, MLA North Coast; Harry
Bloy, MLA Burquitlam; Jeff Bray, MLA Victoria-Beacon Hill;
Hon. Tom Christensen, MLA (To February 10, 2004) Okanagan-Vernon;
Dave Hayer, MLA Surrey-Tynehead; Ken Johnston, MLA Vancouver-Fraserview;
Harold Long, MLA (To February 10, 2004) Powell River-Sunshine
Coast; Joy MacPhail, MLA Vancouver-Hastings; Sheila Orr, MLA
Victoria-Hillside; Barry Penner, MLA Chilliwack-Kent; Gillian
Trumper, MLA Alberni-Qualicum; Dr. John Wilson, MLA Cariboo
Who is covered (and
not covered) by the Act?
Section 3 discusses the scope of the
Act and explains which records are covered by the legislation
and which are excluded. Currently the Act covers approximately
2,200 public bodies in British Columbia. Qualifying as public
bodies are all provincial ministries, agencies, boards, commissions,
most Crown corporations, and offices or other bodies designated
in, or added by regulation, to Schedule 2; and local public
bodies. Schedule 3 identifies the governing bodies of a profession
or occupation falling under the purview of the Act.
The Committee received a few requests
to extend the scope of coverage to those entities no longer
qualifying as public bodies under the Act. In particular,
it was suggested that the records of former Crown corporations
needed to be accessible. While we would not normally condone
the practice of exempting the entire records of a public-private
entity, because of its negative impact on access rights, we
have come to the conclusion that the decision to extend or
reduce the scope of the Act is a decision to be made by the
governing party, rather than private members serving on an
all-party parliamentary committee.
One case of exclusion, though, deserves
special mention. The Committee was asked to consider bringing
the B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
(BCSPCA) under the scope of the Act due to the problems some
individuals involved in the animal rights movement have experienced
obtaining records of its activities. Upon further inquiry,
we learned that the society has a unique status in terms of
its organizational structure. The BCSPCA is a not-for-profit
and mainly self-funded society organized under the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals Act (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 372). This statute
enables the society to provide animal welfare services through
its administration centre, branches or shelters, or authorized
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and
Fisheries provides a small annual grant ($71,500)specifically
for the training of animal cruelty investigators. However,
it has no authority to regulate the society's activities,
except to require it to properly uphold an individual's civil
rights when exercising its investigative powers under the
Act. Municipalities have more regulatory power, under the
legislation, through their contracts with the society to provide
From the Committee's perspective, it
is clear that the BCSPCA is an anomaly. On the one hand, it
is a public body in terms of having statutory authority to
deliver its animal welfare services. On the other hand, its
legal status as a non-profit society exempts its records from
the purview of the Act. Therefore we would urge the government
to look into this matter.
3 —Investigate why the B.C. Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals was assigned the dual status of a public
body and a non-profit society in the first place and whether
there is a case for clarifying or even changing its status."
urge the Members of the Legislative Assembly to act on Recommendation
3 of the Special Committee that reviewed the Freedom of Information
and Protection of Privacy Act.
lovers across the province have on many occasions expressed
concerns regarding the lack of accountability within the BC
SPCA and the public’s inability to access information
regarding the society’s activities within the province
of British Columbia.
Recommendation 3 would
be a positive step to address the public concerns regarding
the special status that the government has granted the BC
SPCA through provincial legislation.
Director Tim Wittenberg made a submission to the Special FOI
Go to this link to
read his testimony:
* To read "FOI
Committee Submission" February 27, 2004
Prepared for the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act Review
Committee by Kimberly Daum who allowed us to post her submission
on our website.
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