The minister responsible for the Pan Am Games is facing questions from critics over the cost of information on construction progress.
During Wednesday’s question period at Queen’s Park, the NDP’s Games critic MPP Paul Miller asked Minster of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Coteau about the Star’s request for information.
The Toronto Star has asked the Toronto organizing committee for internal communications on the construction progress and delays on 10 new taxpayer-funded facilities across the GTA. TO2015 said that freedom of information request will cost more than $4,000.
“Will this government dispense with the outrageous fee requests and tell Ontarians the real status of the 10 new sports facilities under construction — information asked for by the Toronto Star — and any delays that are involved?” Miller asked Wednesday.
Coteau responded by saying the TO2015 committee is working to “refine the scope” of the Star’s request and reduce costs.
“These are the most open and transparent games in the history of this country; in fact, if you look at multi-sporting games internationally, these are the most open and transparent games that have ever come forward,” Coteau said.
The Star did try to narrow its request when the original fee estimate came back at $5,760. The new price tag is still $4,219. More than $1,000 of that cost, the organizing committee says, is for printing fees for over 5,000 pages of records. TO2015 has refused to provide those records on a CD.
Miller also raised concerns Wednesday that the material could not be provided electronically.
“The government has not released this information to the members of this House, not to the Toronto Star and to all Ontarians, without a price. Game organizers in this electronic era say they cannot provide the requested information on a disc, something routinely done by other ministries and agencies at all levels of this government,” Miller said.
Coteau noted this is the first time any of the Games have been brought under freedom of information legislation — in this case provincial rules — and that the regulations are “consistent” with other jurisdictions.
He said TO2015 is working to make sure the Star’s request is “cost-effective.”
The Star is appealing all of the fees to the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, arguing that they are excessive.