Shocking Government Behaviour

The Toronto Star reports on Don Weitz’s struggle to obtain accurate ECT statistics from Ontario’s Ministry of Health, and the whopping bill they sent him for the “favour” of providing incomplete public information.

“This is supposed to be public information,” Weitz said. “There’s enormous public interest in it and yet they are systematically depriving citizens of access.” Weitz, a 76-year-old researcher in Toronto, had been collecting the statistics on electroshock therapy for decades without a problem. But things changed in 2005 when the province levied, for the first time, a fee of $5,800. When the senior citizen on a fixed income appealed to the ministry, arguing the fee was “excessive, unreasonable and unjustified,” the province reduced the bill to $2,175.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner ruled on the case, prohibiting the province from billing Don. However, the government, seemingly undaunted even during an election campaign, is determined to squeeze its citizens for the right to know what the government wants to hide. Bonnie Burstow observes that the government’s behaviour reflects the “siege mentality” that exists at Queen’s Park. She says, “It’s more important than ever that we have reliable statistics on this issue, and we have been sabotaged in getting them.”

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