OTTAWA, July 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ottawa pro-life blogger Patricia Maloney announced this morning that she is taking the Ontario government to court over its recent legislative changes that deny access to provincial abortion statistics.
The change to the freedom of information law was made through Bill 122, which came into effect unnoticed in January 2012, and came to light after Maloney exposed it on her blog, Run with Life.
“As a blogger and a member of the new media, I’m taking on the government and challenging them over this undemocratic move,” Maloney said in a press release Thursday morning. “Tax-payers should know how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Maloney says she discovered the amendment when the Ministry of Health responded to an FOI request she made in March 2012.
“I’m not interested in patient or physician names, or the identification of hospitals,” she said. “I respect the dual purposes of freedom of information laws; to ensure government accountability by providing information to taxpayers while ensuring the privacy of Canadian citizens. But data relating to provincial trends and rates of a publicly funded medical procedure are fair game.”
“The government has not restricted this type of generalized data for any other medical procedure. This amendment is without precedent or justification,” she added. “This is an important healthcare issue. And now the public is running blind on a government expenditure previously identified as costing as much as 30 to 50 million dollars each year. ”
Maloney says that the Ministry of Health denied an FOI request she filed in March 2013. As a result, she retained constitutional lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos, and appealed the decision to the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC). The IPC upheld the Ministry’s decision, stating that the new section to the FIPPA was clear in its exclusion of documents relating to the provision of abortion services.
Maloney is now asking the IPC to reconsider her request, and is seeking a judicial review by the Ontario Divisional Court.
“As a blogger, Ms. Maloney benefits from the freedom of expression and freedom of the press guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Polizogopoulos. “The Charter protects her right to comment on matters of public interest. The allocation of taxpayer funds for a medical procedure which remains the source of much controversy is certainly a matter of public interest and the suppression of that information cannot be justified in law.”