Effect backdating contract
The need for such efforts has taken on new urgency since 2014, says Li, when some 1,500 websites were centralized into one, with more than 60 per cent of content shed.Now that reporting has switched from print to digital only, government information can be altered or deleted without notice, she says.
A closer look at recent data erasure, however, suggests it runs counter to sound economic strategy.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada spokesman Patrick Girard said it isn’t a shutdown, explaining that the government was simply “moving toward a digital-service delivery model, while keeping all materials of business value.” But according to PIPSC, its members are losing vital data.
“They will have access to some information but in no way will they have full access; that’s not how digitizing works,” says Peter Bleyer, special advisor at the union.
The situation has descended into farce: Library and Archives Canada (LAC), entrusted with preserving historic papers, books, photographs, paintings, film and artifacts, was so eroded by cuts that, a few years ago, author Jane Urquhart was unable to access her own papers, donated to LAC in the 1990s.
The result is a crisis in what Canadians know—and are allowed to know—about themselves.
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A months-long investigation, which includes interviews with dozens of academics, scientists, statisticians, economists and librarians, has found that the federal government’s “austerity” program, which resulted in staff cuts and library closures (16 libraries since 2012)—as well as arbitrary changes to policy, when it comes to data—has led to a systematic erosion of government records far deeper than most realize, with the data and data-gathering capability we do have severely compromised as a result.