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Ontario Government Information Fee Discounts

By Victor Schwartzman
November 18, 2013

This week the Ontario Government announced a change in its policy on fees it charges to access public information. The breakthrough came when the Government apparently offered the AODA Alliance a discount on the AODA implementation information it has sought for almost the entire year.

“We believe it is wrong to charge the public for information it has already paid for through its tax dollars,” Premier Wynne told a media conference. “It is unethical to charge a fee. The only real reason we charge a fee is to stop the public from getting the information, but that hasn’t worked as well as we’d hoped. We want the truth to come out, even if we are the ones holding it in.”

Minister Eric Hoskins stood by Premier Wynne’s side. “We considered a number of discount methods. Businesses never seem to apply, only individuals and organizations with a sense of community purpose. We decided to help them as much as we always have. We settled on still charging a fee, but offering a discount if certain conditions are met.”

“The conditions are not difficult,” Premier Wynne added. “If a nonprofit wants a discount on the fee we charge to access requested information, it now has a lot of choice. That is because we believe in democracy.”

Here are the ways in which a nonprofit can now earn a discount:

THE DISCOUNT LOTTERY. Every nonprofit or individual asking for public information is entered into a lottery. There is only one winner. The winner gets a discount but all other entrants have their fees doubled. The Government denies this is an attempt to sew discord among community organizations.

EARN A DISCOUNT. Nonprofits can earn Discount Dollars which can be used as payment against the fee. Discount Dollars are similar to Canadian Tire Money but worth less. Discount Dollars are earned by writing positive letters about the Government to newspapers and websites and by “doing good deeds” (the Government determines which deeds are good.)

SPIN THE WHEEL. The nonprofit representative stands in front of a very large wheel and spins it. On the wheel are different discount amounts, many of which are 0, but quite a few of which are -25. The one discount is 5%. The nonprofit receives whatever the wheel stops at. Hitting a minus number means the nonprofit is fined that percentage of its annual budget.

THROW DARTS. The nonprofit representative throws darts at a photograph of Daniel Ellsberg. The Government uses Ellsberg because it says he was the modern age’s first big information problem. The amount of discount depends on where the dart hits the photo. All but one target is a minus number. However, if the dart hits Ellsberg’s mouth, the discount is 5%.

FUNDING BINGO. Any nonprofit applying to acquire information will be entered into a special draw called the Funding Bingo. Some wags have already nicknamed it “LEARNING A LESSON.” If the nonprofit’s name comes up, it gets the discount but loses its Government funding.

BEING SHAFTED. In this option, a nonprofit representative enters a room and move towards several open shafts which plunge deep into the earth. The room door locks and the shafts move on the floor until the applicant falls into one. The shaft plunged into determines the discount (less possible medical expenses, which cancels the discount.)

PRAY. The Government has arranged for representatives of all religions to monitor prayers. If “enough” prayers or faith messages are received, the Government will grant a “large” discount. The discount will be “really large” if the Government is included in the prayers (in a positive sense.)

Next week: Pride And Prejudice And AODA Zombies

Victor Schwartzman contributes this weekly satiric column to Accessibility News–nothing in these columns is true except what they are about. His graphic novel (where each chapter is one issue of a community newspaper) is serialized on the great Canadian lit site, www.redfez.net. He also contributes a monthly poetry review to the online magazine, Target Audience (www.targetaudiencemagazine.com.), has had poetry and short fiction published (by someone else), and has edited novels.