Pat Maloney, a fabulous blogger and dear friend of PWPL, is taking the Ontario government to court over their undemocratic and unjustified suppression of abortion statistics.
In January 2012, the Ontario government, quietly passed an amendment that restricts Ontarians from making freedom of information (FOI) requests for abortion data and statistics. This came to light after Pat, more investigation journalist than simple blogger like moi, made a FOI request and was refused. The reason the Ministry of Health refused to release the data was because of the new amendment made to Ontario’s freedom of information law. Pat broke the story, and it made national headlines.
“As a blogger, Ms. Maloney benefits from the freedom of expression and freedom of the press guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” explains 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.”
I wrote about the case this morning at ActivateCFPL:
Without this data, as Maloney states in her press release, how are Ontarians, particularly organizations such as youth and women’s health groups, going to monitor trends and determine if government or non-profit programming is effective? If a group launches a provincial safe-sex program, without abortion data, how will it assess if the program was effective? Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised to re-introduce what some consider a radical sex-education program. How will Ontarians determine if that is tax-dollars well spent? There is no way to know if such a program would cut the rate of teen abortions or spike them if the government hides the data. […]
So now Maloney has to invest significant time, money and resources to fight this fight. It’s a fight to ensure that Ontarians can keep their provincial representatives accountable on health care costs and programming. And this isn’t just Maloney’s fight. This is a fight for all Ontarians.
Are we comfortable with the government deciding what information we and can’t access about their activities and funding? If we’re comfortable with one $30 million a year restriction, what’s next?
What Ontario’s government did to restrict otherwise generally available data from its citizens is unthinkable and arrogant. It tells me that they don’t think the people who elected them are entitled to know how their tax dollars are being spent or if government programing is effective. Frankly, passing this amendment was a condescending move. Hats off to Maloney for taking the government on.
Read the rest here. And drop by Pat’s blog, Run with Life, to offer a few words of support. I’m sure she’ll appreciate it. Going through the legal system to take on a provincial government is no easy task.by