Group says university has failed to comply with provincial freedom of information act
VANCOUVER (November 15, 2010) – This week, Stop UBC Animal Research filed a formal complaint with the BC government against the University of British Columbia (UBC) for UBC’s failure to comply with provincial freedom of information law. The animal advocacy group, which has requested records about UBC’s extensive animal research programs, said it filed the complaint because UBC had failed to meet deadlines established under BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). To date, UBC has not provided the campaign with any information about the university’s experiments, including on piglets, monkeys, cats, mice, rabbits, and other animals. BC’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), the regulatory body for FIPPA, is reviewing the organization’s complaint.
“The public has a right to know what UBC is doing to animals with taxpayer dollars,” said Brian Vincent, spokesman for Stop UBC Animal Research. “If UBC is so proud of its animal research, why is the university refusing to hand over information about its experiments? What does UBC have to hide?”
FIPPA sets clear deadlines for responding to requests. For instance, under FIPPA, UBC is required to respond within working 20 days to a request to waive fees for producing records. On September 10, Stop UBC Animal Research asked UBC to waive records costs because the organization is an all-volunteer group, the release of records is in the public interest, and the information requested cannot be obtained through publicly-accessible sources. Until the fee issue is resolved, the group said it cannot obtain any information from UBC. Stop UBC Animal Research said UBC’s refusal to meet deadlines gives the impression the university hopes to avoid turning over documents about its research.
“It is not surprising UBC is dragging its feet over the release of records about its experiments. The university doesn’t want the public to see the grim reality of animal research,” said Vincent. “University officials fear that once the public learns more about UBC forcing fluids into the lungs of newborn piglets to induce respiratory failure, blinding monkeys, cutting open the backs of cats, beheading wild songbirds, and exposing mice to cigarette smoke, people will be outraged,” Vincent said.
Since June, the Vancouver-based organization has submitted numerous information requests to UBC, including requests for:
Data on the numbers, species of animals upon which research, teaching, or testing was conducted involving pain or distress, but for which pain relief was not used
Data on the numbers of non-human primates used in research. Sources of non-human primates used, including numbers of non-human primates bred at UBC or purchased from other facilities, as well as the numbers of wild-caught non-human primates and country of origin.