Archived - Department of Finance Canada's Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the
Access to Information Act
2008–2009

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Purpose of the Access to Information Act

Mandate of the Department of Finance

Administration of the Access to Information Legislation

Interpretation of Statistical Report

Complaints / Investigations

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada

APPENDIX A
Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act Requests

Introduction

The annual report on the administration of the Access to Information (ATI) Act in the Department of Finance is submitted in accordance with section 72 of the legislation. This report covers the period from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. 

Purpose of the Access to Information Act

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or any person or corporation present in Canada a right to access information that is contained in government records.

The Department of Finance recognizes the right of access by the public to information in records under the control of government institutions as an essential element of our system of democracy. The department is committed to openness and transparency by respecting both the spirit and requirements of the Access to Information Act, its Regulations and its related policy instruments.

The Department of Finance further acknowledges the importance of facilitating access to records by requiring employees to make every reasonable effort to assist applicants.

Mandate of the Department of Finance

The Department of Finance is the federal government's central agency responsible for advising on all aspects of Canada's economic and financial affairs. Concerned with all aspects of the performance of the Canadian economy, it oversees all initiatives that affect the economy, ensuring harmony and following the development of external factors that bear on domestic economic performance.

The department's most visible output is the federal budget. The budget speech provides an authoritative review of past, present, and future economic factors that will affect Canada's economic performance and finances. The budget reviews government accounts for the past period and presents its fiscal projections for the coming years. These include the government's expenditure program, revenues from existing sources, taxation changes, and debt levels. The minister has a number of statutory responsibilities and plays a significant role as central policy advisor. The following list of ministerial and departmental functions reflects these responsibilities:

Program (or Statutory) Responsibilities and Core Functions

  • fiscal and monetary policy
  • budget preparation and planning
  • tax policy
  • debt and exchange fund management
  • tariff and certain aspects of trade and tariff policy
  • financial sector policy
  • international financial arrangements
  • federal‑provincial fiscal arrangements (policy and program administration)
  • private pension policy and public pension financing
  • privatization

Central Agency Functions

  • development of the fiscal framework
  • preparation of the economic outlook and forecast
  • analysis and assessment of major policy initiatives and options
  • shared supervision of Crown corporations and agencies
  • coordination with other central agencies on key files

Administration of the Access to Information Legislation

Access to Information and Privacy Division

The Access to Information and Privacy Division (ATIP), whose operations are overseen by the Law Branch, is responsible for administering the ATI Act  for the Department of Finance. As a centralized operation, the ATIP Division co‑ordinates the timely processing of requests under the legislation, conducts interdepartmental consultations, handles complaints lodged with the Information Commissioner, and responds to informal inquiries. Division staff also provide advice and guidance to departmental officials on matters involving the ATI Act.  Under the guidance of the Director and two Team Leaders, nine ATIP Officers/Analysts/Advisors and two Administrative Assistants were responsible for the administration of the ATI Act in 2008-09.

Education and Training Activities

Eleven training and educational activities were organized for all branches of the department during the past year.  Two half-day sessions provided about 20 participants with an overview of the ATI Act and departmental processesAn additional nine one-hour sessions were provided to 140 participants which focussed on the legislative amendments and related revised policies and procedures. Throughout the year, the department also offered monthly sessions for new employees, during which an overview of ATI-related activities is provided.  Ad-hoc training was also provided as needed or requested by the branches or individuals. 

Institutional Changes to the Administration of the ATI Act

No new procedures were implemented during the reporting period.

The delegation of authority that was approved on March 31, 2008 remained in effect throughout the reporting period.

Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) Round VI Management Accountability Framework (MAF) Assessment

The MAF summarizes the management conditions that need to be in place to ensure that government is well managed. MAF Round VI covers the period from September 2008 to April 2009.

TBS Findings concerning the Department of Finance:  Statutory and regulatory requirements of the Access to Information Act were met (including consistent public reporting on the administration of the Act).

Delegation of Authority

During the period under consideration, the authority to approve or deny the release of departmental information requested under the ATI Act  was shared among the Deputy Minister, the Associate Deputy Minister and G7 Deputy for Canada, the Associate Deputy Minister, the Assistant Deputy Minister and Counsel to the Department, and the Access to Information and Privacy Director, depending on the nature of the information being requested and its sensitivity. Generally, the ATIP Director approves all exemptions.

access to information act

Schedule 1
Designation Order—Access to Information Act
Powers, duties, or functions Section Deputy Minister Associate DM Associate DM and G7 Deputy  for Canada Assistant  DM and Counsel, Law Branch Director, ATIP ATIP Team Leader Senior ATIP Analyst
Reasonable effort to assist, respond accurately and completely and provide timely access in the format requested 4(2.1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To give notice to applicant that access will be given 7(a) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To give access to the record 7(b) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To transfer to another institution or to accept transfer from another institution and to give notice to applicant 8(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To extend time limit and give notice 9 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
No records exist 10 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To require payment of additional fees 11(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To require payment for machine readable record 11(3) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To require payment of a deposit 11(4) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To give notice of amount required 11(5) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To waive the requirement to pay a fee 11(6) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To determine whether a record should be translated 12(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To determine whether a record should be provided in an alternative format 12(3) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 13 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 14 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 15 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 16 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 16.5 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 17 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 18 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 18.1 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 19 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that subsection 20(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To disclose part of a record referred to in that subsection 20(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To disclose part of a record referred to in that subsection and provide written explanation 20(3) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To disclose, with the consent of third party, a record referred to in subsection 20(1) 20(5) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To disclose, in the public interest, a record referred to in paragraphs 20(1)(b),(c) or (d) 20(6) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that subsection 21(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 22 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 22.1 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 23 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 24 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To disclose information that can reasonably be severed 25 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To refuse to disclose a record referred to in that section 26 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To give to third party notice of intent to disclose 27(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To extend time limit set out in 27(1) 27(4) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To decide on disclosure after third party representation and to give notice of decision to third party 28(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To waive requirement for written representations 28(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To give access unless review of decision is requested 28(4) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To give notice to applicant and to third party 29(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To advise the Information Commissioner of any third party who received notification or, if the document would have been disclosed, would have received notification 33 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To make representations to the Information Commissioner 35(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To give notice to the Information Commissioner that access to a record will be given 37(4) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To give notice to a third party of application for Court review 43(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To give notice to applicant that third party has applied for Court review 44(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To request hearing in the National Capital Region 52(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To request opportunity to make representations ex parte 52(3) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To provide facilities where manuals may be inspected by public 71(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To exempt information severed from manuals 71(2) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
To prepare annual report for submission to Parliament 72(1) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
To carry out responsibilities conferred on the Head of the institution by regulations made under section 77 which are not included above. 77 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Reading Room

The departmental Reading Room, located in the department's Library, is available to individuals wishing to view records that have been released by the department in response to access requests.  This facility contains current volumes of INFO SOURCE, previous Access and Privacy Annual Reports to Parliament, and Access and Privacy request forms.

Interpretation of Statistical Report

The number of requests submitted pursuant to the ATI Act during the 2008–09 reporting period decreased to 324 from the 385 received in the previous year, representing a 16 per cent decrease. With the addition of the 93 requests outstanding from the previous period, a total of 417 requests were considered in 2008–09. Of these, 352 were completed and 65 requests were carried forward to the 2009–10 reporting period.

The department also received 158 consultations relating to requests made to other government departments on matters of interest to the Department of Finance. The department received 23 new complaints relating to files processed under the ATI Act.

Source of Requests Received

The department experienced slight increases in the number of requests submitted from the media and the public. The department also experienced slight decreases in the number of requests submitted by business and organizations.

Source Current Fiscal Year Previous Fiscal Year
Public 28 8.6% 61 15.8%
Media 94 29.0% 152 39.5%
Business 152 46.9% 137 35.6%
Academia 9 2.8% 1 0.3%
Organizations 41 12.7% 34 8.8%

Disposition of Requests

The following summary table indicates the disposition of the 352 Access requests completed during this reporting period:

Disposition Number of Requests Percentage of Requests
Documents all disclosed 36 10.2 %
Disclosed in part 183 52.0 %
Nothing disclosed (excluded) 9 2.6 %
Nothing disclosed (exempt) 4 1.1%
Transferred 1 0.3%
Unable to process 98 27.8 %
Abandoned 21 6.0 %
Treated informally 0 0 %
Total 352 100 %

Disclosed in Full

In 10.2% (36 cases) of the 352 requests completed, the requesters were provided with total access to the relevant records.

Disclosed in Part

In 52% of cases (183 requests), exemptions and/or exclusions were applied to portions of the requested information.

Disclosed No Records

There were 13 requests (3.7%) where no records were disclosed.

Transferred

One request was transferred to another government institution.

Unable to Process

No relevant records were found to respond to 98 requests (27.8 per cent of cases).  It is interesting to note that 61 of these requests were from various requestors who submit monthly requests for comfort letters.

Abandoned

Twenty-one applicants failed to clarify the nature of their requests or were unwilling to pay the requested fees and the files were considered abandoned (6.0% of cases).

Treated Informally

None of the requests received in 2008-2009 were treated informally.

Exemptions Invoked and Exclusions Cited

During the period, the department invoked the following exemptions:

Section 
of the ATI Act
General Provisions Number of
Files Where
Applied
Section 13 Information obtained in confidence from other governments 56
Section 14 Federal-provincial affairs 91
Section 15 International affairs and defence 62
Section 16 Law enforcement and investigations 19
Section 17 Safety of individuals   0
Section 18 Economic interests of Canada 140
Section 19 Personal information 126
Section 20 Third party information  79
Section 21 Operations of government 313
Section 22 Testing procedures, tests and audits   3
Section 23 Solicitor-client privilege 32
Section 24 Statutory prohibitions 15
Section 26 Information to be published   5

During the period, the department cited the following exclusions:

Section of the
ATI Act
General
Provisions
Number of Files
Where Applied
Section 68 Published material 6
Section 69 Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council 147

Completion Time

During the reporting period, 90% of the closed requests were completed on time, which is 2% less than the rates achieved during the two previous fiscal years. The department remains committed to make every effort to maintain or improve its compliance rate in responding to requests under the ATI Act. Of the 352 requests completed during the reporting period:

  • 157 (45%) were completed within 30 days;
  • 51(14%) were completed within 31 to 60 days;
  • 59 (17%) were completed within 61 to 120 days; and
  • 85 (24%) were completed in 121 days or over.

Requests processed in 121 days or over generally involved voluminous files requiring extensive consultations with third parties and/or other government institutions.

Extensions

During the reporting period, extensions of 30 days or under were invoked as follows:

  • Searching for large number of records - 18 cases
  • Consultation with other government institutions - 7 cases
  • Notification of third parties - 27 cases

During the reporting period, extensions of 31 days or over were invoked as follows:

  • Searching for large number of records - 19 cases
  • Consultation with other government institutions - 139 cases
  • Notification of third parties - 52 cases

Translations

During the reporting period, the department received no requests for translations.

Method of Access

In response to 208 requests, access was provided by giving either paper or electronic copies of the records to the applicants.  The department did not receive any requests to only provide the applicant an opportunity to view the records requested.  However, in response to 11 requests, access was provided by allowing the applicant to both view the records and receive either paper or electronic copies.

Fees

There have been no changes to the departmental fee policy. With the exception of the $5.00 application fee, the department waives any fees assessed under the ATI Act that are under $25.00.

During the year 2008–09, the Department of Finance Canada collected $4,451.74 in fees, representing .5 per cent of the estimated costs incurred by the department for human resource and operational costs related to the administration of the ATI Act.

Costs

Costs incurred during the reporting period are calculated based on salaries of ATIP Division members (12 FTEs) and administrative expenses associated with the administration of the ATI Act. Costs do not include reported salaries for time spent by other departmental officials and support staff involved in processing requests (i.e. search, collection, and initial review of documents). See Appendix A for cost details.

Complaints / Investigations

Complaints Filed

There were 38 complaints outstanding from previous years carried forward to the 2008–09 reporting period and 23 new complaints initiated against the department in the reporting period. The subjects of the new complaints are as follows:

Reasons for Complaint New complaints (2008–09)

Refusal (general or exemption) 11
Refusal (exclusion – s 69) 6
Extension 5
Fees 1

The complaints filed in fiscal year 2008–09 represented approximately 7 per cent of the number of requests completed in the fiscal year and 7 per cent of all requests received during the reporting period.

Complaints Resolved

Of the forty complaints completed this fiscal year, eight were resolved, twenty-nine were discontinued and three were substantiated.  In all cases of resolved complaints, resolution was achieved in a way satisfactory to the Commissioner, the complainant, and the department.

Complaints Unresolved

At the end of this fiscal year, twenty-one complaints remained under investigation by the Office of the Information Commissioner and were carried over to fiscal year 2009–10. 

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada

No appeals to the Federal Court were made in this reporting period.

APPENDIX A
Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act Requests

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act Requests