Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act - 2012-2013

Table of Contents

Introduction

We are pleased to table the Annual Report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act (ATIA) for fiscal year 2012-2013, as required under subsections 72(1) and 72(2) of the Act. This will be the final report for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada subsequent reports will be in the name of the recently created Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

Purpose of the atia

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as individuals and corporations present in Canada, the right to seek access to federally-controlled information and records.

Mandate of the institution

On behalf of the Government of Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is Canada’s face and voice to the world, working to advance Canada’s political and economic interests in the international community as well as to apply Canadian experience to help address global issues.

The Department's legal mandate, as set out in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act, RSC 1985, c. E-22, in force during the relevant reporting period, is to:

  • conduct all diplomatic and consular relations on behalf of Canada;
  • conduct all official communication between the Government of Canada and the government of any other country and between the Government of Canada and any international ganization;
  • conduct and manage international negotiations as they relate to Canada;
  • coordinate Canada's economic relations;
  • foster the expansion of Canada's international trade;
  • coordinate the direction given by the Government of Canada to the heads of Canada's diplomatic and consular missions and to manage these missions;
  • administer the foreign service of Canada;
  • foster the development of international law and its application in Canada's external relations.

In addition, Passport Canada, which was a Special Operating Agency of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada during the relevant reporting period, is responsible for issuing, refusing, revoking and withholding Canadian passports, in addition to administering their use and recovery. Passport Canada supervises all matters relating to Canadian travel documents and provides guidance to Canadian government offices abroad, enabling them to issue passports. Besides serving the public directly, Passport Canada also works with national and international police authorities, security agents, border officials and any federal, provincial and territorial authorities that provide identification documents. Please see delegated authorities section for more information.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for the Export and Import Permits Act, RSC 1985, c. E-19, which authorizes the government to control and monitor the trans-border flow of specified goods, and for the Special Economic Measures Act, 40-41 Elizabeth II, c. 17, which authorizes the government to apply economic sanctions in response to a serious threat to international peace and security.

The Department also provides administrative support to other government departments with personnel abroad.

Organizational structure

The Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division (ATIP Office) is responsible for the administration of the ATIA, including the processing of requests and consultations. The Director of the ATIP Office reports to the Corporate Secretary, who in turn reports to the Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In 2012-2013, the ATIP staff fluctuated between forty-five and fifty-three employees including contractors to fulfill DFAIT’s obligations under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. As of March 31, the ATIP Office consisted of; a director, three deputy directors, six team leaders, twenty-nine analysts at various levels, six clerical staff and ten consultants. The work ranges from processing complex and/or voluminous requests to more straight forward, routine requests and consultations from other government departments as well as providing advice to internal and external stakeholders and providing training to departmental staff.

The Division, in dealing with staffing challenges, is continuing its external staffing process at all levels; this process will be completed in early FY 2013-14. The Division will continue to look for new practices and procedures to keep up with the increasing workload.

Delegated authorities

Under Section 73 the Act, the Minister’s authority is delegated to enable the Department to meet its legislated requirements as well as exercise its powers. Since October 2009 responsibility for all sections of the Act was delegated to the Deputy Ministers, to the Corporate Secretary, to the Director of the Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division, as well as to the Deputy Directors of the ATIP Office. (See Annex A)

In addition, Passport Canada as a special operating agency has its own ATIP delegated authority to respond to requests under both the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act as they relate to its passport records. This delegation came into effect on April 1, 2011. The Passport Canada annual reports to Parliament are attached.

Administration of requests

The following section explains in more detail the TBS statistical report as provided in Annex B.

Access to information requests

Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the Department received one thousand one hundred and forty-eight requests for information under the Access to Information Act, which was a 28.6 percent increase over the previous fiscal year. Along with those new requests received, three hundred and fifty-seven requests were carried over from the previous fiscal year, for a total of one thousand five hundred and five requests.

During the reporting period, one thousand and thirty-three requests were completed and four hundred and seventy-two still active files were carried over to the next reporting period.

Requestor sources

The Access to Information requests received during this reporting period break down as follows:

Table 1: Requestor sources
Access to Information RequestsNumber of Requests
Media576
Academia45
Business233
Organizations131
Public163
Total1148

Disposition of completed requests

The distribution of requests completed during this reporting period is as follows:

Table 2: Disposition of completed requests
Access to Information RequestsNumber of Requests
All disclosed98
Disclosed in part592
Nothing disclosed (excluded)2
Nothing disclosed (exempted6
Transferred22
Unable to process197
Abandoned by applicant112
Treated informally4
Total1033

Exemptions and exclusions

The exemptions most commonly used by the Department during the period were sub-sections 15(1) [international affairs] and 19(1) [personal information] as well as paragraphs 21(1)(a) [advice] and 21(1)(b) [consultations and deliberations]. These were invoked for 468, 437, 240 and 265 requests, respectively. The Department also applied exclusions under sub-section 69(1) [confidences of cabinet] in sixty-two instances.

Extensions

During the reporting period, the Department claimed extensions pursuant to paragraphs 9(1)(a), 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c): 335, 204, and 51 times, respectively.

Fees and costs

For the reporting period, the Department collected $6,273.00 in fees, and waived $1,249.010 in fees.

Consultations received from other institutions

When a request contains records that are of a greater interest to another institution, the ATIP Office of that institution is consulted.

When a request contains records that are of a greater interest to another institution, the ATIP Office of that institution is consulted.

Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the Department received one thousand and seventy-four ATI Act consultations from other government institutions, which represents a 19.8% decrease over the last reporting period. Most requests originated from federal institutions subject to the Access to Information Act. However, a small percentage of consultations originated from other organizations.

During the reporting period, one thousand three hundred and twenty-seven consultations were completed representing one hundred and five thousand one hundred and sixty-two (105,162) pages.

Internal operations

Training and development

During 2012-2013, the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Division continued to provide analysts with the necessary training and tools to perform their jobs effectively via training sessions developed to meet the ATIP Office’s training needs and a dedicated trainer. Furthermore, in conjunction with the Centre for Corporate Learning Services, Learning Roadmaps are being developed in order to effectively identify and formalize the training requirements for employees in the ATIP Division.

The ATIP Office also continued to benefit from its ATIP Professional Development Program which allows DFAIT to “grow its own” ATIP Analysts due to the lack of experienced ATIP Analysts within the federal ATIP Community. This program has been very successful in addressing recruitment, retention and succession planning issues with eight employees presently in the program.

The Policy & Governance Team addresses the ATIP training needs of the ATIP office, the Department and other government departments. The Policy and Governance Team also ensures the Department complies with all other aspects and regulations of the Access to Information Act, Privacy Act and TBS requirements.

The department’s Intranet ATIP website is accessible to all DFAIT employees as is a newly designed Wiki page. In addition, an ATIP Group has been created in AGORA, a new collaboration tool to quickly share information, best practices and facilitate collaboration across the department.

The ATIP Division maintains a structured and department-wide ATIP awareness program to ensure that officials across the Department understand their roles and responsibilities. DFAIT has also expanded the forums within which ATIP training is delivered to include; staff meetings, “DFAIT 101” courses which are designed for new employees, and pre-posting training sessions in order to better prepare employees for their work at Canada’s missions abroad.

The ATIP Division also holds sessions with subject matter experts during which records are reviewed in order to educate employees on the exercise of discretion when making recommendations for severance, obstruction and injury.

To ensure that employees at mission also receive necessary training, sessions are delivered to Locally Engaged Staff, Trade, Political and Consular Officers, and Administrative Assistants using videoconferencing or Webinar technology. During this reporting period three missions received training via videoconference. In addition, an online interactive ATIP awareness tutorial, developed in collaboration with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, was made available. For this reporting period, one hundred and eighty-two employees completed the online training. This important tool allows employees to receive training without additional resources being allotted to such efforts. As part of the e-learning initiative a two-hour Podcast was produced and will be available to all employees in the fall of 2013.

As reported in the 2010-2011 Annual Report to Parliament, a new training program on section 15 of the Act (injury to international affairs) was developed and again delivered during this reporting period to the federal ATIP community via TBS community meetings and various training sessions. This presentation provides information on the responsibilities of DFAIT vis-à-vis the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act as it pertains to records that have international implications. The presentation also provides other federal institutions with clear direction as to when DFAIT should be consulted in accordance with the New Directive of the Access to information Act which requires consultation with DFAIT on Section 15 of the Act only if another department requires additional information for the proper exercise of discretion to withhold or another department intends to disclose sensitive information pertaining to international affairs. As expected, this training was beneficial to other federal departments in identifying what information and/or records should be sent to DFAIT for consultation.

In collaboration with the Consular Operations Bureau, a specific training program was created and delivered for Consular Officers to assist in understanding their roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act in the context of providing consular services to Canadians. Scenario-based practical exercises were developed to better prepare employees for situations they may encounter in the course of their duties. During the reporting period sixteen Consular Training sessions were held with one hundred and eighty-three participants.

The ATIP Division also redesigned and refined both the training program for ATIP Liaison Officers and subject-matter experts within Offices of Primary Interest (OPIs) across the Department. Employees can register for these courses via an automated online service, which has improved the ATIP Division’s ability to deliver training.

In all, during the reporting period, fifty-one ATIP training sessions were delivered to approximately five hundred and seventy employees, including:

  • new ATIP Liaison Officers and their back-ups;
  • subject matter experts within Offices of Primary Interest;
  • consular program officials and those preparing to work at missions abroad such as Mission Consular Officers, Foreign Service Officers, Honorary Consuls, and Heads of Mission; and
  • various departmental program officials.

DFAIT’s ATIP Division continuously strives to develop and refine its training tools through comments from employees participating in the various training session delivered.

New or revised policies, guidelines and procedures

Only one significant change was made to internal Access to Information Act processes or policies in 2012-2013. Unfortunately, the intake unit implemented the previous fiscal year did not result in the expected efficiencies and therefore the approach was discontinued and the officers were integrated into other file processing teams. The Department continued to place emphasis on educating departmental officials on their ATIP roles and responsibilities to ensure compliance and efficiencies.

During the reporting period, the Policy & Governance Team continued to revise privacy-related policy instruments, for example, a new Privacy Impact Assessment Template was completed. Additional instruments are being considered.

Complaints, audits, and investigations

From April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013, eighty-three complaints were made to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) regarding access to information requests to the Department. The reasons for the complaints are as follows:

Table 3a: Complaints, audits, and investigations
Reason for ComplaintNumber of Complaints
Delay4
Extension23
Miscellaneous38
Refusal – Exemptions10
Refusal – General6
Refusal – Section 691
Publication1

Furthermore, during FY 2012-13, sixty-eight complaints were closed. The findings on closed complaints are as follows:

Table 3b: Complaints, audits, and investigations
Reason for ComplaintNumber of Complaints
Discontinued11
Not Well-Founded25
Resolved5
Well-Founded27

While in the last reporting period less than 40% of the complaints lodged against DFAIT were well-founded, the Department takes the issue of complaints seriously. This is being addressed through numerous means including; using the ATIP Professional Development Program to recruit and promote several employees, carrying out staffing processes to fill vacant positions, providing ATIP Awareness sessions throughout the Department, updating the Bureau Intranet and Internet ATIP web sites, ensuring that new ATIP recruits receive hands-on training, launching the new online ATIP tutorial, providing ATIP training to other government institutions, and by having an officer dedicated to dealing only with complaints.

Annexes

Annex A: Designation order

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the persons acting in those positions, to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister of Foreign Affairs as the head of a Government institution under the Act. This designation replaces the designation dated March 11, 1998.

The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P.
Ottawa, October 2nd, 2009

Annex

Table 4: Schedule
PositionSections of Privacy Act
1. Deputy Minister of Foreign AffairsAll Sections
2. Deputy Minister for International TradeAll Sections
3. Director General Corperate SecretariatAll Sections
4. Director, Access to Information and Privacy Protection DivisionAll Sections
5. Deputy Director, Access to Information and Privacy Protection DivisionAll Sections

Annex B: 2012-13 statistical report

Reporting period: 2012/04/01 2013/03/31

Part 1 - Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requestes
Table 5: Number of requestes
SourceNumber of Requests
Received during reporting period1148
Outstanding from previous reporting period357
Total1505
Closed during reporting period1033
Carried over to next reporting period472
1.2 Source of requestes
Table 6: Source of requestes
SourceNumber of Requests
Media576
Academia45
Business (Private Sector)233
Organization131
Public163
Total1148

Part 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time
Table 7: Disposition and completion time
Disposition of requestsCompletion Time
1 to 15 days16 to 30 days31 to 60 days61 to 120 days121 to 180 days181 to 365 daysMore than 365 daysTotal
All disclosed842261165098
Disclosed in part18112731607311541592
All exempted02030106
All exempted02000002
No records exist391162313420197
Request transferred2110000022
Request abandoned4038572713112
Treated informally20200004
Total12831312919485130541033
2.2 Exemptions
Table 8: Exemptions
SectionNumber of Requests
* I.A.: International Affairs Def.: Defence of Canada S.A.: Subversive Activities
13(1)(a)142
13(1)(b)42
13(1)(c)19
13(1)(d)0
13(1)(e)0
14(a)35
14(b)17
15(1) - I.A.*423
15(1) - Def.*34
15(1) - S.A.*11
16(1)(a)(i)7
16(1)(a)(ii)3
16(1)(a)(iii)3
16(1)(b)4
16(1)(c)12
16(1)(d)0
16(2)(a)0
16(2)(b)0
16(2)(c)30
16(3)1
16.1(1)(a)0
16.1(1)(b)0
16.1(1)(c)0
16.1(1)(d)0
16.2(1)0
16.30
16.4(1)(a)0
16.4(1)(b)0
16.50
1716
18(a)3
18(b)8
18(c)0
18(d)52
18.1(1)(a)1
18.1(1)(b)5
18.1(1)(c)0
18.1(1)(d)0
19(1)437
20(1)(a)9
20(1)(b)146
20(1)(b.1)5
20(1)(c)172
20(1)(d)22
20.10
20.20
20.40
21(1)(a)240
21(1)(b)265
21(1)(c)50
21(1)(d)10
223
22.1(1)0
23104
24(1)8
262
2.3 Exclusions
Table 9: Exclusions
SectionNumber of Requests
68(a)3
68(b)0
68(c)0
68.10
68.2(a)0
68.2(b)0
69(1)(a)5
69(1)(b)0
69(1)(c)1
69(1)(d)4
69(1)(e)10
69(1)(f)0
69(1)(g)re (a)10
69(1)(g)re (b)0
69(1)(g)re (c)14
69(1)(g)re (d)5
69(1)(g)re (e)11
69(1)(g)re (f)2
69.1(1)0
2.4 Format of information released
Table 10: Format of information released
DispositionPaperElectronicOther formats
All disclosed9070
Disclosed in part4401420
Total5301490

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Table 11: Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requestsNumber of pages processedNumber of pages disclosedNumber of requests
All disclosed2779219098
Disclosed in part9506166561592
All exempted22606
All excluded2102
Request abandoned224560112
2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Table 12: Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
DispositionLess than 100 pages processed101-500 pages processed501-1000 pages processed1001-5000 pages processedMore than 5000 pages processed
Number of requestsPages disclosedNumber of requestsPages disclosedNumber of requestsPages disclosedNumber of requestsPages disclosedNumber of requestsPages disclosed
All disclosed90998770214900000
Disclosed in part39211760157274882511660181565300
All exempted60000000000
All excluded2000000000
Abandoned890120604010
Total57912758176281903212150221565310
2.5.3 Other complexities
Table 13: Other complexities
DispositionConsultation requiredAssessment of feesLegal advice soughtOtherTotal
All disclosed1400014
Disclosed in part2398247
All exempted20008
All excluded10001
Abandoned70007
Total263800271

2.6  Deemed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Table 14: Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadlinePrincipal Reason
WorkloadExternal consultationInternal consultationOther
24214110100
2.6.2 Number of days past deadline
Table 15: Number of days past deadline
Number of days past deadlineNumber of requests past deadline where no extension was takenNumber of requests past deadline where an extension was takenTotal
1 to 15 days100
16 to 30 days000
31 to 60 days33033
61 to 120 days103242
121 to 180 days53540
181 to 365 days116475
More than 365 days94251
total69173242

2.7 Requests for translation

Table 16: Requests for translation
Translation RequestsAcceptedRefusedTotal
English to French000
French to English000
Total000

Part 3 - Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Table 17: Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of requests where an extension was taken9(1)(a) Interference with operations9(1)(b) Consultation9(1)(c)4Third party notice
Section 69Other
All disclosed19091
Disclosed in part2692317342
All exempted3001
All excluded0110
No records exist22001
Request abandoned22166
Total3352518951
3.2 Length of extensions
Table 18: Length of extensions
Length of extensions9(1)(a) Interference with operations9(1)(b) Consultation9(1)(c)4Third party notice
Section 69Other
30 days or less923272
31 to 60 days5755216
61 to 120 days13357122
121 to 180 days266277
181 to 365 days226113
365 days or more5011
Total3352518951

Part 4 - Fees

Table 19: Fees
Fee TypeFee CollectedFee Waived or Refunded
Number of requestsAmountNumber of requestsAmount
Application1010$5,05023$115
Search5$3634$268
Production0$00$0
Programming0$00$0
Preparation5$8604$866
Alternative format0$00$0
Reproduction0$00$0
Total1020$627331$1,249

Part 5 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations
Table 20: Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations
ConsultationsOther government institutionsNumber of pages to reviewOther organizationsNumber of pages to review
Received during reporting period10579061517613
Outstanding from the previous reporting period3813785512
Total143812847018615
Closed during the reporting period131310470614456
Pending at the end of the reporting period125237644159
5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions
Table 21: Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions
RecommendationNumber of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 days16 to 30 days31 to 60 days61 to 120 days121 to 180 days181 to 365 daysMore than 365 daysTotal
Disclose entirely6610078601420320
Disclose in part271271952731046911800
Exempt entirely836312124
Exclude entirely11110004
Consult other institution28111324612195
Other2219131005170
Total1522530637112590141313
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
Table 22: Recommendations and completion time for consultations
RecommendationNumber of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 days16 to 30 days31 to 60 days61 to 120 days121 to 180 days181 to 365 daysMore than 365 daysTotal
Disclose entirely01020003
Disclose in part03122109
Exempt entirely00000000
Exclude entirely00000011
Consult other institution00000000
Other10000000
Total141421114

Part 6 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

Table 23: Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences
Number of daysNumber of responses receivedNumber of responses received past deadline
1 to 1543
16 to 3051
31 to 60116
61 to 120146
121 to 18096
181 to 3651914
More than 3651814
Total8050

Part 7 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act

7.1 Costs
Table 24: Costs
ExpendituresAmount
Salaries$2,574,734
Overtime$18,542
Goods and Services$1,366,877
Professional services contracts$1,316,031 
Other$50,846
Total$3,960,153
7.2 Human Resources
Table 25: Human Resources
ResourcesDedicated full-time to ATI activitiesDedicated part-time to ATI activitiesTotal
Full-time employees38.130.0038.13
Part-time and casual employees0.000.000.00
Regional staff0.000.000.00
Consultants and agency personnel24.180.000.00
Students0.000.000.00
Total62.310.0062.31