Search This Blog

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Canada's kitchens open for scrutiny but not ours

Sydney (smuggly) probably sees itself a bit higher up the list of world class cities than Canada's Halifax but this report about the latter's plans to improve access to information about restaurant hygiene shows Sydney is a long way behind in this area.

Matthew Moore of the Sydney Morning Herald has been unsuccessfully pursuing this information about Sydney restaurants under FOI. For our comment see here.

The Nova Scotian Minister, and the Mayor of Halifax, both agree that the present system - free access to the most recent hygiene inspection reports for any three restaurants, then access in accordance with the FOI Act - means that Halifax falls short of international good practice.

They are now looking how to improve the system to provide more information on a routine basis. When an attempt was made to charge a newspaper $400 for an edited version of all reports, all charges were reversed when the paper challenged.

According to the Chronicle Herald "
Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly said he "absolutely" believes the public should have easier access to restaurants’ inspection records.

"The public has the right to know about conditions in restaurants," said Mr. Kelly, who had a career managing several restaurants and a catering company before he got into politics.

"I see no reason why this information should not be available to the public because it keeps everybody accountable and everybody informed."

Mr. Kelly said he supports a food-safety system that would post inspection results on a government website. Cities such as Toronto and Vancouver already post inspection results on the Internet.

"If I owned a restaurant and I was aware this information may become public, I would do my darnedest to make sure that we adhere to all public health standards and would ensure that staff knew process and procedures and do anything I could in my ability to make sure that we have one of the best reputations and best records," Mr. Kelly said.

"It’s quite clear and expectant that the public wants to know these things and they have every right to know."

Some restaurants in Halifax aren't waiting for government to act, and now voluntarily display a copy of the latest report at their entrance.

Meanwhile in Sydney (and as far as we are aware other Austalian towns and cities) public access to this type of information is yet another FOI battlefield.

No comments:

Post a Comment