Until Jan. 1, 2008, anyone wishing to obtain information on a restaurant, in regards to violations, convictions or charges made by the health unit, had to file a freedom of information (FOI) request That's all about to change.
"It was the policy of the health unit not to release that information unless there was a freedom of information request," said health unit manager of inspection services Bob Bell. "Through discussions we decided to bring it to the board of health for a change in the policy."
On Oct. 19, the board unanimously voted in favour of the change, Bell said.
Beginning Jan. 1, the public will be able to visit the health unit's website to see if any restaurants inspected have received critical infractions, charges, convictions or closures resulting from the inspections.
Bell said it was common practice for health units across the province to only provide information with an FOI request.
Only in recent years has that policy began to change, beginning in Toronto, Bell said.
"What has happened in other jurisdictions, and I'll use Toronto as an example, is since releasing this information there has been an increase in compliance by restaurants and problems have been reduced," said Bell.
Some of the items looked at during an inspection include the temperature of refrigerated and frozen storage, the handling of food and the protection of food from contamination.
An increase in popular demand by the public also encouraged the policy change, Bell said.
"Now, they'll be able to see if there are any issues and be able to make an informed decision," he added.