Canada’s labor union Unite Here, that represents also casino workers, is ready to attack British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) for imposing an excessive eye-watering freedom of information search fee of $500,000. According to the members of the union, the overwhelming fee aims at limiting access to the requested information as the costs exceed the appropriate limit. As it can be recalled, the union submitted a freedom of information request (FOI), asking BCLC to release records related to the casinos’ compliance with the province’s anti-money-laundering measures.
Casino industry in British Columbia has been under serious media fire over the past few months. The topic of money laundering in Canada is currently hotter than the Sun itself. BCLC has once again found itself at the heart of a serious controversy, after Canada’s Unite Here found out that BCLC is charging ginormous FOI fees. The union that represents casino workers in Canada and North America filed a freedom of information request in an attempt to obtain important documents and records related to the money laundering scandal in British Columbia casinos.
According to reliable sources, the union requested BCLC to release records and from November 2012 to November 2017. B.C.’s freedom of information law grants the public access to information possessed by governmental agencies. Upon written requests, the government is required to disclose the requested information, supposing that it is not a subject to certain exemptions. The government, on the other hand, is allowed to charge people for submitting FOI requests.
Excessive Fee to Block Freedom of Information Requests
The cost, which Unite Here should have paid for its request was estimated to be $504,510. Unite Here’s request was estimated to include over 16,500 hours of document searching, which means that the union should pay $30 per hour. Postmedia reported that Unite Here’s Marc Hollin requested from BCLC all documents concerning anti-money laundering compliance of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation locations that include River Rock Casino, Casino Nanaimo, Hard Rock Casino and Hastings Park Casino.
A response from BCLC says that the union should pay an initial deposit of $252,240 in order to put the wheels in motion. Hollin told the reporters from Postmedia that the BCLC’s response shocked him. He added BCLC’s price tag of $504,510 exceeds any limits and that is the reason why he thinks that the corporation aims at blocking the union’s FOI request. Hollin explained that the people have the right to have as much as possible information regarding the case, as it is an important issue.
It is interesting to note that in November last year, River Rock Casino has filed a legal action in an attempt to block the release of more information related to the allegations of money laundering in B.C. casinos. The casino asked the court to bar any further document disclosures to Postmedia.