Archived - Department of Finance Canada
Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration
of the Access to Information Act
2010–2011

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Purpose of the Access to Information Act

Mandate of the Department of Finance Canada

Administration of the Access to Information Act

Interpretation of the Statistical Report

Complaints/Investigations

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada

APPENDICES - Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act Requests

Introduction 

This Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (the Act) within the Department of Finance Canada is prepared and submitted in accordance with section 72 of the Act and covers the period from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2011.

Purpose of the Access to Information Act 

The Actcame into force on July 1, 1983. It 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 Canada recognizes that the right of access to information in records under the control of the Department and other federal government institutions is an essential element of our system of democracy. The Department is committed to openness and transparency, respecting both the spirit and the requirements of the Act, its Regulations and its related policy instruments. The Department further acknowledges the importance of facilitating access to records by requiring that its employees make every reasonable effort to assist applicants.

Mandate of the Department of Finance Canada 

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

The Department is committed to making a difference for Canadians by helping the Government of Canada develop and implement strong and sustainable economic, fiscal, tax, social, security, international, and financial-sector policies and programs. It plays an important role in ensuring that government spending is focussed on results and delivers value for taxpayer dollars. The Department interacts extensively with other federal departments and agencies and plays a pivotal role in the analysis and design of public policy across a wide range of issues affecting Canadians.

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 including the government’s expenditure program, revenues from existing sources, taxation changes, and debt levels. The Minister of Finance has a number of statutory responsibilities and plays a significant role as central policy advisor. Specifically, the Department’s ministerial and departmental functions are:

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 Act 

Access to Information and Privacy Division 

The Access to Information and Privacy Division (ATIP) is responsible for administering theAct for the Department of Finance Canada. As a centralized operation, the ATIP Division coordinates 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 theAct. The ATIP Division comprises a director, two team leaders, nine full-time ATIP analysts and two administrative assistants.

Educational and training activities 

The ATIP Division held 11 training sessions for Departmental personnel with 188 staff members attending. ATIP also participated in two Orientation Sessions this year, providing information about the Act and information management to 68 employees new to the Department. Finally, an awareness session was provided to 10 Board of Directors members and staff of the Canada Development Investment Corporation, a federal Crown corporation established in 1982 with a mandate to hold and manage certain commercial interests of the federal government. Ad hoc training was also provided as needed to individuals throughout the Department. 

Institutional changes to the administration of the Access to Information Act 

No new and/or revised access to information policies or guidelines were implemented during the reporting period. However, in June 2010 the retention period for request files was reduced from seven years to three. Also, on October 27, 2010 a section specific to the ATIP Division was placed on the Departmental website so as to provide various information to the public with respect to the Act including how to obtain access to information.

Delegation of authority 

The delegation of authority that was approved by the Minister of Finance Canada on March 31, 2008, remained in effect throughout the reporting period. Depending on the nature of the information requested and its sensitivity, the authority to approve or deny the release of departmental information requested under the Act is shared by 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. Generally, the ATIP Director approves all exemptions.

Access to Information Act Designation Order. For details, refer to the preceding paragraph.

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
 applicants, 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 section
20(1) yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose a record
 referred to in that section
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 had
 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 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 reading room, located in the Department’s library, is available to individuals who wish to view the records released by the Department in response to their access requests. This facility contains current volumes of Info Source, previous annual reports to Parliament, and Access to Information Request Forms.

Interpretation of the Statistical Report 

The number of requests received under the Act in this reporting period was 369, a 19.03% increase from 310 requests the previous reporting year. This represents a significant change as the number of requests received had been in a steady decline from 444 in 2006-07 to 310 in 2009-10. This reporting year, the total number of requests considered was 435 as 66 requests remained outstanding from 2009–10. By the end of 2010–11, 379 requests had been completed, with 56 carried forward to 2011–12.
In 2010–11, the ATIP Division also received 139 new consultations from other federal government institutions on matters of interest to the Department. By the end of the year, 131 had been completed while eight were carried forward to 2011-12.

Source of requests received 

The Department experienced an increase of 143 requests from the public this year as opposed to last, with those requests comprising 54.5% of all requests received compared with last year’s 18.7% and 8.6% in 2008-09. As astounding was the decrease of 155 requests from businesses which accounted for 4.1% of requests this year compared to 54.8% last year and 46.9% in 2008-09. While the number of requests received from the media and academia increased by 17.1% and 1.0% respectively over last year, the number received from organizations decreased by 3.0%.

Table 1
Source of requests received
Source 2010–11 2009–10 2008-09
Public 201 54.5% 58 18.7% 28 8.6%
Media 144 39.0% 68 21.9% 94 29.0%
Business 15 4.1% 170 54.8% 152 46.9%
Academia 7 1.9% 3 0.9% 9 2.8%
Organizations 2 .5% 11 3.5% 41 12.7%

Disposition of requests 

The following table indicates the disposition of the 379 requests completed during this reporting period:

Table 2
Disposition of completed requests
Disposition Number of Requests Percentage of Requests
All disclosed 48 12.67 %
Disclosed in part 159 41.95 %
Nothing disclosed (excluded) 4 1.06 %
Nothing disclosed (exempt) 5 1.32 %
Transferred 1 .26 %
Unable to process 131 34.56 %
Abandoned by applicant 31 8.18 %
Treated informally 0 .00 %
 
Total 379 100.00%

Records fully disclosed

In 12.67% of the 379 requests completed (48 cases), the applicants were provided full access to the records they requested.

Records partially disclosed

In the majority of cases, however, (41.95%, or 159 requests), some exemptions and/or exclusions needed to be invoked before the records could be provided to the applicants.

No records disclosed (excluded)

In only four cases (1.06%) was the Department required to deny access to records in their entirety. In these cases consultations were conducted with the Privy Council Office which confirmed that the records sought were subject to Cabinet Confidence.

No records disclosed (exempted)

In five cases (1.32%) the Department was required to deny access to records in their entirety pursuant to various sections of the Act.

Requests transferred

Only one request was transferred to another government institution that had a greater interest in the records being sought by the applicant.

Unable to process

No relevant records were found in 131 cases (34.56% of requests). The majority of these were responses to a group of applicants who submit monthly requests for “comfort letters”. Other requesters sought access to records on matters such as contracting, audits, and certain briefing material. In three cases, individuals sought access to their personal information under both the ATIA and the Privacy Act—no information could be found in any of those cases. 

Abandoned

In 31 instances (20 more than last year), applicants either failed to clarify the nature of their requests or were unwilling to pay the requisite fees and, therefore, the requests were abandoned.

Treated informally

None of the completed requests was treated informally.

This year, the ATIP Division compared the disposition of requests completed this reporting year to the disposition of those completed in 2009-2010.

Table 3
Comparison of request disposition
Disposition 2010-2011 2009–10
All disclosed 48 25
Disclosed in part 159 158
Nothing disclosed (excluded) 4 2
Nothing disclosed (exempt) 5 2
Transferred 1 2
Unable to process 131 108
Abandoned by applicant 31 11
Treated informally 0 1
 
Completed 379 309

The largest differences were in the number of requests in which all records were disclosed (23 more instances than last year) and in those that could not be processed (23 more than last year), followed by the number of requests abandoned (31 versus 11). The differences in the remaining categories were negligible.

Exemptions invoked and exclusions cited

During the period, the following exemptions were invoked:

Table 4
Exemptions invoked
Sections of the Act General Provisions Number of Files
Where Applied
Section 13 Information obtained in confidence
from other governments
54
Section 14 Federal-provincial affairs 73
Section 15 International affairs and defence 44
Section 16 Law enforcement and investigations 15
Section 17 Safety of individuals 2
Section 18 Economic interests of Canada 119
Section 19 Personal information 91
Section 20 Third party information 117
Section 21 Operations of government 258
Section 22 Testing procedures, tests and audits 2
Section 23 Solicitor-client privilege 23
Section 24 Statutory prohibitions 11
Section 26 Information to be published 3

During this reporting period, the following exclusions applied:

Table 5
Exclusions cited
Sections of the Act General Provisions Number of Files
Where Applied
Section 68 Published material 4
Section 69 Confidences of the
Queen’s Privy Council
71

Completion time 

This year, 92.4% of closed requests were completed on time, an improvement upon last year’s rate of 90.6% and 90.01% in 2008-2009. The Department is committed to maintaining or improving its compliance rate in responding to requests under the Act. Of the 379 requests completed during the reporting period, 244 (or 64.38%) were completed in 30 days or less, 52 (13.72%) were completed within 31 to 60 days, 52 (13.72%) were completed within 61 to 120 days, and 31 (or 8.18%) were completed in 121 days or over. Requests taking 121 days or more to complete usually involved voluminous files that required extensive internal consultations, consultations with third parties, and consultations with other government institutions.

Extensions 

During the reporting period, 58 extensions of 30 days or less were invoked as follows:

Searching for large number of records
11
Consultation with other government institutions
19
Notification of third parties
28
 

101 Extensions of 31 days or over were invoked as follows:

Searching for large number of records
20
Consultation with other government institutions
55
Notification of third parties
26
 

Translations

No requests for translations were received.

Method of access

In 207 cases, access was provided to the applicants either on paper or by compact disk. No applicants asked to view the records as opposed to receiving a copy.

Fees

There have been no changes to the departmental fee policy. The $5.00 application fee is normally charged and fees assessed at less than $25.00 are waived.

During this reporting year, only $2,130.00 in fees were collected, partly due to the demand for records in compact disk rather than paper format.

Costs

Costs incurred in the reporting period are calculated on the salaries of ATIP staff (14 full-time employees) and the administrative expenses associated with administration of the Act. Costs do not include salaries of other departmental personnel 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 nine complaints initiated against the Department with respect to six of the files completed during the reporting period. The categories of the complaints are as follows:

Table 6
Complaint categories
Reasons for Complaint Complaints
Refusal (general or exemption) 3
Refusal (exclusion, section 69) 2
Extension 3
Fees 1

Complaints

Of the nine complaints received this fiscal year, three (33.33%) were deemed “not well-founded” by the Information Commissioner, one was “well-founded, resolved”, one was “well-founded”, and one was “discontinued”. Findings have yet to be rendered regarding the remaining three complaints, two of which are about the exemptions claimed, while the other concerns an extension of the statutory time limit.

This year the Information Commissioner also rendered findings with respect to two complaints that it had received against the Department in 2008-2009 (one “not well-founded”, one “discontinued”), and four received against the Department in 2009-2010 (two “well-founded, resolved”, one “well-founded”, and one “not well-founded”).

None of the Information Commissioner’s investigations raised any specific issues or concerns with respect to the Department’s handling of these requests and no action was required of the Department.

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada 

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

Appendices 
Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act Requests 

Source of requests

144 requests were from media, 7 from academia, 15 from business, 2 from organizations, and 201 from the public.

Requests under the Access to Information Act

369 new requests were received and 66 were carried over, for a total of 435 requests.  379 requests were completed with 56 carried over.

Disposition of requests completed

Statistics concerning the disposition of requests completed is found in Table 2 of the Annual Report.

Exemptions invoked

Paragraph 13(1)(a) was invoked 19 times, 13(1)(b) was invoked 13 times, 13(1)(c) 21 times and 13(1)(d) once.  Section 14 was invoked 73 times.  Subsection 15(1) was invoked 22 times with respect to international relations, 22 times with respect to defence, and 0 times with respect to subversive activities.  Paragraph 16(1)(a) was invoked 6 times, 16(1)(b) once, 16(1)(c) 3 times and 16(1)(d) 0 times.  Subsection 16(2) was invoked 5 times.  Subsection 16(3) was invoked 0 times.  Section 17 was invoked twice.  Paragraph 18(a) was invoked 18 times, 18(b) 23 times, 18(c) 0 times, and 18(d) 78 times.  Subsection 19(1) was invoked 91 times.  Paragraph 20(1)(a) was invoked twice, 20(1)(b) was invoked 59 times, 20(1)(c) 31 times, and 20(1)(d) 25 times.  Paragraph 21(1)(a) was invoked 99 times, 21(1)(b) 105 times, 21(1)(c) 40 times, and 21(1)(d) 14 times.  Section 22 was invoked twice.  Section 23 was invoked 23 times.  Section 24 was invoked 11 times.  Section 26 was invoked 3 times.

Exclusions cited

Paragraph 68(a) was cited 3 times, 68(b) once, and 68(c) 0 times.  Paragraph 69(1)(a) was cited 7 times, 69(1)(b) 0 times, 69(1)(c) 4 times, 69(1)(d) 6 times, 69(1)(e) 23 times, 69(1)(f) 4 times, and 69(1)(g) 27 times.  No exclusions were cited under paragraphs 68.2(a), 68.2(b) or 69.1(1).

Completion time

244 requests were completed in 30 days or less, 52 in 31 to 60 days, 52 in 61 to 120 days, and 31 in 120 days or over.

Extensions

For document searches, 11 extensions were taken for 30 days or under, and 20 were taken for 31 days or over. For consultatios, 19 extensions were taken for 30 days or under, and 55 were taken for 31 days or over.  For consultations with third parties, 28 extensions were taken for 3 days or under, and 26 were taken for 31 days or over.

Translations

No translations were made.

Method of access

Copies were given in 207 cases, none were given by examination, and none were given by both copies and examination.

Fees

$1,570.00 was collected in application fees and $560.00 for search fees. No fees were collected for reproduction, preparation or computer processing.  The total fees collected was $2,130.00.

Fees of $25.00 or less were waived 49 times for a total of $264.10.  Fees of more than $25.00 were waived 33 times for a total of $10,888.10.

Costs

Salary costs were $853,993.00, and administration costs were $78,087.00 for a total of $932,080.00. 14 person years were used.

Appendix B-1

Additional Reporting Requirements - Access to Information Act

In addition to the reporting requirements addressed in form TBS/SCT 350-62 "Report on the Access to Information Act", institutions are required to report on the following using this form:

Part III - Exemptions invoked

Number 1

Paragraph 13(1)(e) – 0
Subsection 16.1(1)(a) – 0
Subsection 16.1(1)(b) – 0
Subsection 16.1(1)(c) – 0
Subsection 16.2(1) – 0
Subsection 16.3 – 0
Subsection 16.4(1)(a) – 0
Subsection 16.4(1)(b) – 0
Subsection 16.5 – 0
Subsection 18.1(1)(a) – 0
Subsection 18.1(1)(b) – 1
Subsection 18.1(1)(c) – 0
Subsection 18.1(1)(d) – 0
Subsection 20(1)(b.1) – 0
Subsection 20.1 – 0
Subsection 20.2 – 0
Subsection 20.4 – 0
Subsection 22.1(1) – 0

Part IV – Exclusions Cited

Number 3

Subsection 68.1 – 0
Subsection 68.2(a) – 0
Subsection 68.2(b) – 0
Subsection 69.1(1) - 0

Note: If your institution did not invoke any exemptions or cite any exclusions noted above during the reporting period, this must be stated explicitly.