The Federal Government of Canada has recently acknowledged plans to reduce the number of government websites from 6 to 1. What is the purpose? This is part of the Fed’s plan to restrict and or remove access to key government information.
The B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association attempted to obtain details of these changes under the Access to Information Act. The Treasury Board demanded thousands of dollars in fees to process the request. Now they’re insisting on hundreds of days of delays to allow for unspecified “consultations.”
The Federal Government has also indicated it will no longer produce content in print and will remove content deemed “redundant, old or trivial”. In anticipation of the web site convergence, various departments have already started ‘cleaning up’ their websites by removing content. Any guidelines indicating what content should be removed are vague. The immediate result is that the Aboriginal Canada Portal was taken down on February 13th despite evidence that usage was going up, not down.
Information has already started to disappear from the revamped websites. The Department of Justice website used to include a section for minister’s speeches, archived by year. In the transition to the new format, that section was apparently axed.
In 2014, Publishing and Depository Services will no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications. However, the Depository Services Program will continue to provide electronic access to Government of Canada publications through the website, publications.gc.ca. Canadians will need to contact departments directly for all assistance on Crown Copyright and Licensing.
Canadians should be concerned about what information is being controlled and withheld.