Over charging for documents nets reprimand for government

Alberta Justice and the solicitor general have been chastised for over-charging for documents requested under a Freedom of Information (FOIP) application.

Adjudicator Amanda Swanek from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner found the ministry exaggerated the $384 cost of providing documents to a member of the public who requested information about why a vendor won a contract to train peace officers at the Solicitor General Staff College.

In her decision Swanek wrote “using the maximums to arrive at an estimate of the costs of processing an access request rather than amounts that the public body believes will approximate its actual costs is unreasonable…. [When] the maximums are used as estimates if the actual costs turn out to be significantly lower than the maximums this discrepancy could have the effect of dissuading an applicant from going ahead with the access request… [which] would be contrary to the purpose of the legislature in enacting the FOIP Act.”

The ministry said it would cost $27 per hour and take 12 hours to prepare the 100 pages of records $25 to photocopy them and $15 to ship them. Alberta Justice and the solicitor general has since requited the fee at $215.50.