Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act - 2018-2019

Table of Contents

Introduction

We are pleased to table the Annual Report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act (the Act) for fiscal year 2018-2019, as required under section 72 of the Act.

NOTA: The Department is referred to in this report as Global Affairs Canada. Its legal name, however, remains the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, as set out in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Act.

Purpose of the Access to Information Act

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

Global Affairs Canada is Canada’s face 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, Trade and Development Act, SC 2013, c. 33, s. 18, is to:

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, SC 1992, 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 federal government institutions with personnel abroad.

Organizational Structure

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

In 2018-2019, the ATIP Division employed 57 Full-Time Equivalents to fulfill the Department’s obligations under both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. During most of the fiscal year, the Division’s staff included up to five consultants and one student.

The Division’s structure consists of a Director, five Deputy Directors, eight Team Leaders, one Senior Advisor, one Manager, one Administrative Assistant, forty-five Analysts, two System Administrators, and seven Clerks. This list includes the Privacy Policy and Governance Team which is comprised of a Team Leader and three Analysts who work exclusively on the application of the Privacy Act. It also includes one Team Leader and five Analysts dedicated to the Intake Team pilot project, which was launched in November 2018. Not all positions in the Division were staffed during the reporting period.

Delegated Authorities

Consistent with Section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the Minister’s authority is delegated to the Deputy Ministers, to the Corporate Secretary, to the Director of the ATIP Division, and to the Deputy Directors of the ATIP Division.

Highlights of the report

NUMBER OF REQUESTS:

The number of Access to Information requests submitted to the Department has decreased by 22% compared to the previous reporting period. When compared to the previous three reporting periods, the number of requests submitted has decreased by 2%. The number of requests completed by the Department decreased by 21% compared to the previous reporting period and by 8% compared with the average of the previous three reporting periods.

Text version
Access to Information Requests
 2015-162016-172017-182018-19
Received1,0861,2331,6801308
Completed1,1391,2681,5691245

DEEMED REFUSAL RATE:

The Department’s deemed refusal rate in 2018-19 (i.e., the percentage of Access to Information requests that received a response beyond the deadline required under the Act) was 34%. This means that 66% of the Department’s responses to Access to Information requests were provided to requesters on time. The deemed refusal rate for the reporting period increased by 12% compared to the 22% rate for the previous period.

Text version
Deemed Refusal Rate
 2015-162016-172017-182018-19
Percentage28.97%29.73%22.18%33.57%

STAFFING:

In 2018-19, the Division had approximately 50 Full-Time Equivalents (FTE) working exclusively on Access to Information requests. This represented an 8% decrease over the previous reporting period. The Department took measures to improve its performance by staffing the ATIP Division with additional resources.

Text version
Access to Information Total Human Resources in FTE
 2015-162016-172017-182018-19
Total53.8648.8453.7249.97

INNOVATION TO IMPROVE OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY:

During the reporting period, the ATIP Division continued the process of reviewing and streamlining its operations. A very significant result of this process has been the Intake Team pilot project. The purpose of this team is to triage incoming requests and consultations, re-scope the requests and retrieve the relevant documents in order to alleviate the overall administrative burden for analysts. Early statistics indicate that analyst productivity will be increased by over 30%. The project was launched in November 2018 and is ongoing.

Administration of Requests

The following section explains key elements of the Statistical Report to the Treasury Board Secretariat provided in annex B.

Access to Information Requests

In 2018-2019, the Department received 1,308 requests for information under the Access to Information Act. In addition, 408 requests were carried over from the previous fiscal year, for a total of 1,716 active requests.

During the reporting period, 1,245 requests were completed. As a result, 471 active files were carried over to the next reporting period..

Requestor Sources

The sources of Access to Information requests received during the reporting period were as follows:

SourceNumber of Requests
Media671
Academia85
Business (private sector)103
Organization36
Public173
Decline to Identify240
Total1,308

Disposition of Completed Requests

The disposition of requests completed during the reporting period was as follows:

DispositionNumber of Requests
All disclosed139
Disclosed in part822
All exempted7
All excluded3
No records exist126
Request transferred14
Request abandoned128
Neither confirmed nor denied6
Total1,245

Exemptions and Exclusions

The exemptions under the Act most commonly applied by the Department during the reporting period were sub-sections 19(1) [personal information] and 15(1) [international affairs], as well as paragraphs 21(1)(a) [advice] and 21(1)(b) [consultations and deliberations].

Relevant Pages Processed and Disclosed

During the reporting period, the Department disclosed 81,775 pages of the 125,471 relevant pages processed.

Extensions

During the reporting period, the Department claimed 168 extensions pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(a), 659 pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(b), and 35 pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(c).

Fees and Costs

For the reporting period, the Department collected $4,640 in fees, and waived $1,645 in fees.

Consultations Received from Other Institutions

When a request addressed to a Department contains records that are of interest to another government institution, the Department consults the ATIP Coordinator of that institution accordingly.

Given its mandate and various responsibilities at the international level, the Department played a key role under the Act on behalf of other institutions of the Government of Canada. Specifically, the Department consulted foreign governments and organizations on behalf of other federal government institutions when the latter needed to determine whether they could release records that originated abroad. During the reporting period, the Department received 882 consultations from other government institutions, comprising over 56,758 pages. Most consultations originated from federal institutions subject to the Access to Information Act. However, a small percentage originated from other governments in Canada and abroad.

Internal Operations

Training and Development

During fiscal year 2018-2019, the ATIP Division continued to provide its analysts with the necessary training and tools to perform their jobs effectively, notably by ensuring that all staff members had learning plans in their performance evaluation agreements.

The ATIP Division benefited from its Professional Development Program, which allows the Department to train and promote its analysts from junior to senior levels. This program has been very successful in addressing recruitment, retention, and succession planning issues. At the end of the fiscal year, 14 employees were in the program and further recruitment was underway.

The ATIP Division continues to develop tools and guidance material to assist and inform the Department. In an effort to foster meaningful dialogue with internal clients, a Departmental outreach event was held for Right to Know Week. In addition, during this reporting period, 685 employees completed an online interactive ATIP awareness tutorial, developed in collaboration with the Canadian Foreign Service Institute. Internal training initiatives for the ATIP Division also include the ATIP mentorship program, a legal workshop on jurisprudence, and guest speakers from the ATIP community.

To assist Consular officials in understanding their roles and responsibilities vis-à-vis the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act in the context of providing consular services to Canadians, a specific training program was delivered to 66 employees on Confidentiality and Personal Information.

In order to decentralize the responsibility of training among teams, the ATIP Division introduced guidelines for delivering ATIP training. This yielded benefits such as relationship-building between analysts and subject matter experts, skill-building opportunities for analysts in the Professional Development Program, and ensured continuous training offerings throughout the Department. During the reporting period, at least 25 formal ATIP training sessions were delivered to approximately 199 employees.

New or Revised Policies, Guidelines and Procedures

As a result of the Lean initiatives of 2017-18, efforts have been made to foster more effective dialogue between the ATIP Division and subject matter experts. A yearlong rationale campaign has included outreach initiatives, and the provision of helpful statistics in order to identify areas for improvement. For example, the monthly Bureau Performance Report is now circulated by the Corporate Secretary and encompasses all bureaus whose internal deadlines have been missed. This has yielded a significant response from bureaus, and a renewed awareness of tasking deadlines.

With the assistance of the Senior Policy and Governance Advisor, the Intake Team pilot project has centralized administrative functions, and allows analysts to focus their efforts on the review of records. The Intake Team also serves as a training unit and assists in the onboarding of new employees. Once new employees have completed their term with the Intake Team, they are transitioned to regular portfolios. Upon this transition, they are further supported by the ATIP Division’s Mentorship Program, another Lean initiative. The Department continued to place a heavy emphasis on educating departmental officials on their ATIP roles and responsibilities to ensure compliance and efficiencies.

Complaints, Audits and Investigations

During fiscal year 2018-2019, 58 complaints were made to the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada regarding Access to Information requests to the Department. The reasons for the complaints were as follows:

Reason for ComplaintNumber of Complaints
Delay1
Extension7
Refusal – Exemptions16
Refusal – General34

Over the course of the reporting period, 58 complaints against the Department were closed. The findings on closed complaints were as follows:

Complaint FindingsNumber of Complaints
Discontinued23
Not Well-Founded6
Well-Founded0
Resolved29

The Department took the issue of complaints seriously and addressed any problems that were identified, notably through training. The Division had a dedicated officer dealing with the resolution of complaints.

Monitoring Processing Times

The Department monitored the processing time for requests and tracked their status. The tools in place for this purpose included:

Annex A: Designation Order

Access to Information Act Designation Order

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information 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 sections of the Act set out after each position in the schedule. This designation replaces the designation dated October 2, 2009.

Schedule

Position

  1. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (all sections)
  2. Deputy Minister for International Trade (all sections)
  3. Deputy Minister for International Development (all sections)
  4. Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (all sections)
  5. Director General, Corporate Secretariat (all sections)
  6. Director, Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division (all sections)
  7. Deputy Directors, Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division (all sections)

The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, P.C., M.P.
Ottawa, July 4, 2017

Annex B: Global Affairs Canada 2018-2019 Statistical Report

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Name of institution:
Global Affairs Canada

Reporting period:
2018-04-01 to 2019-03-31

Part 1: Requests Under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requests
SourceNumber of Requests
Received during reporting period1,308
Outstanding from previous reporting period408
Total1,716
Closed during reporting period1,245
Carried over to next reporting period471
1.2 Sources of requests
SourceNumber of Requests
Media671
Academia85
Business (private sector)103
Organization36
Public173
Decline to Identify240
Total1,308
1.3 Informal requests - Completion Time
1 to 15 Days16 to 30 Days31 to 60 Days61 to 120 Days121 to 180 Days181 to 365 DaysMore Than 365 DaysTotal
235583342453380
Note: All requests previously recorded as “treated informally” will now be accounted for in this section only.

Part 2: Requests Closed During the Reporting Period

2.1 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 disclosed6454729831139
Disclosed in part246614430610312752822
All exempted11103107
All excluded10110003
No records exist9703111221126
Request transferred1310000014
Request abandoned591611110238128
Neither confirmed nor denied32000106
Total116201235358116157621245
2.2 Exemptions
SectionNumber of Requests
13(1)(a)169
13(1)(b)33
13(1)(c)7
13(1)(d)1
13(1)(e)0
146
14(a)18
14(b)6
15(1)12
15(1) - I.A.*558
15(1) - Def.*16
15(1) - S.A.*44
16(1)(a)(i)1
16(1)(a)(ii)0
16(1)(a)(iii)0
16(1)(b)2
16(1)(c)9
16(1)(d)0
16(2)18
16(2)(a)2
16(2)(b)0
16(2)(c)50
16(3)0
16.1(1)(a)0
16.1(1)(b)0
16.1(1)(c)1
16.1(1)(d)0
16.2(1)0
16.30
16.4(1)(a)0
16.4(1)(b)0
16.57
1710
18(a)1
18(b)8
18(c)0
18(d)5
18.1(1)(a)0
18.1(1)(b)7
18.1(1)(c)0
18.1(1)(d)0
19(1)531
20(1)(a)12
20(1)(b)116
20(1)(b.1)0
20(1)(c)198
20(1)(d)18
20.10
20.20
20.40
21(1)(a)309
21(1)(b)252
21(1)(c)99
21(1)(d)10
224
22.1(1)0
23164
24(1)10
261
* I.A.: International Affairs
Def.: Defence of Canada
S.A.: Subversive Activities
2.3 Exclusions
SectionNumber of Requests
68(a)17
68(b)0
68(c)0
68.10
68.2(a)0
68.2(b)0
69(1)1
69(1)(a)12
69(1)(b)0
69(1)(c)2
69(1)(d)11
69(1)(e)10
69(1)(f)0
69(1)(g) re (a)52
69(1)(g) re (b)1
69(1)(g) re (c)9
69(1)(g) re (d)17
69(1)(g) re (e)20
69(1)(g) re (f)4
69.1(1)0
2.4 Format of information released
DispositionPaperElectronicOther Formats
All disclosed89500
Disclosed in part3484740
Total4375240
2.5 Complexity
2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of RequestsNumber of Pages ProcessedNumber of Pages DisclosedNumber of Requests
All disclosed28822533139
Disclosed in part11540974695822
All exempted41907
All excluded4503
Request abandoned67164547128
Neither confirmed nor denied006
2.5.2 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 disclosed132153071003000000
Disclosed in part61310428154267372711978271983915713
All exempted6010000000
All excluded3000000000
Request abandoned117125795439961247200
Neither confirmed nor denied6000000000
Total87712083169286943012974282231115713
2.5.3 Other complexities
DispositionConsultation RequiredAssessment of FeesLegal Advice SoughtOtherTotal
All disclosed80008
Disclosed in part249030252
All exempted20002
All excluded10001
Request abandoned1100011
Neither confirmed nor denied10001
Total272030275
2.6 Deemed refusals
2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of Requests Closed Past the Statutory DeadlinePrincipal Reason
WorkloadExternal ConsultationInternal ConsultationOther
4181474890133
2.6.2 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 days315081
16 to 30 days184058
31 to 60 days184058
61 to 120 days155974
121  to 180 days124153
181 to 365 days125365
More than 365 days111829
Total117301418
2.7 Requests for translation
Translation RequestsAcceptedRefusedTotal
English to French000
French to English000
Total000

Part 3: Extensions

3.1 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) Third-Party Notice
Section 69Other
All disclosed140453
Disclosed in part1211055931
All exempted2050
All excluded0010
No records exist6070
Request abandoned250321
Total1681064935
3.2 Length of extensions
Length of Extensions9(1)(a) Interference With Operations9(1)(b) Consultation9(1)(c) Third-Party Notice
Section 69Other
Section 69Other
30 days or less6621297
31 to 60 days25421924
61 to 120 days4132643
121 to 180 days211171
181 to 365 days110160
365 days or more4040
Total1681064935

Part 4: Fees

Fee TypeFee CollectedFee Waived or Refunded
Number of RequestsAmountNumber of RequestsAmount
Application926$4,640319$1,595
Search0$01$50
Production0$00$0
Programming0$00$0
Preparation0$00$0
Alternative format0$00$0
Reproduction0$00$0
Total926$4,640320$1,645

Part 5: Consultations Received From Other Institutions and Organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and organizations
ConsultationsOther Government of Canada InstitutionsNumber of Pages to ReviewOther OrganizationsNumber of Pages to Review
Received during reporting period8335647849280
Outstanding from the previous reporting period2453119613381
Total10788767462661
Closed during the reporting period8015956549542
Pending at the end of the reporting period2772810913119
5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada 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 entirely31561086819121295
Disclose in part9337511350337320
Exempt entirely201530011
Exclude entirely01100103
Consult other institution218141567475
Other65145822197
Total128112204209805513801
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
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 entirely876540030
Disclose in part112561117
Exempt entirely00000000
Exclude entirely00000000
Consult other institution00000000
Other20000002
Total118810101149

Part 6: Completion Time of Consultations on Cabinet Confidences

6.1 Requests with Legal Services
Number of DaysFewer 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
1 to 1513781127000000
16 to 302011600000000
31 to 602220700000000
61 to 1205102185000000
121 to 1800000000000
181 to 3650010000000
More than 3650000000000
Total605033212000000
6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of DaysFewer 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
1 to 150000000000
16 to 300000000000
31 to 600000000000
61 to 1200000000000
121 to 1800000000000
181 to 3650000000000
More than 3650000000000
Total0000000000

Part 7: Complaints and Investigations

Section 32Section 35Section 37Total
58858124

Part 8: Court Action

Section 41Section 42Section 44Total
0000

Part 9: Resources Related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
ExpendituresAmount
Salaries$3,061,377
Overtime$44,362
Goods and Services$1,062,650
• Professional services contracts$816,760 
• Other$245,890
Total$4,168,389
9.2 Human Resources
ResourcesPerson Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees40.72
Part-time and casual employees4.19
Regional staff0.00
Consultants and agency personnel4.40
Students0.66
Total49.97
Date Modified: