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Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Privacy Act 2012–2013

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Purpose of the Privacy Act

History of the Department of Finance Canada

The Department Today

Mandate of the Department of Finance Canada

Strategic Outcome

Administration of the Privacy Act

Interpretation of Statistical Report

Complaints

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada

Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs)

APPENDIX A

Statistical Report on Privacy Act Requests

Introduction 

The Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Privacy 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, 2012, to March 31, 2013. 

Purpose of the Privacy Act 

The Act came into force on July 1, 1983. Its purpose is to protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by federal government institutions. It also provides Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and individuals present in Canada a right of access to their personal information.

The Department recognizes that the right of access to personal information is an essential element of our system of democracy. It is committed to openness and transparency, respecting both the spirit and the requirements of the Act, its Regulations and related policy instruments. The Department further acknowledges the importance of facilitating access to information by requiring that its employees make every reasonable effort to assist applicants.

History of the Department of Finance Canada 

In 1867, Canada became a self-governing dominion, comprising New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The first Minister of Finance, Alexander Galt, had previously served in the same capacity for the Province of Canada (made up of parts of present-day Ontario, Quebec and Labrador).

The Department of Finance was one of the original departments of the Government of Canada. Others included Agriculture, the Penitentiary Service, Public Works, Post Office, Secretary of State, and the Privy Council Office. Originally, the Department of Finance's primary functions were bookkeeping, administering the collection and disbursement of public monies, and servicing the national debt. The total number of officers, clerks, and messengers in the Department in 1867 was twenty-eight.

In June 1869, John Rose, who succeeded Alexander Galt as Finance Minister, introduced a statute spelling out the Department's duties, which were basically doing everything not assigned to any other department.

At various times since its establishment, the Department has done the work of the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Comptroller of the Treasury, the Royal Canadian Mint and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, as well as taking charge of tax inspection and old age and public service pensions.

During World War I, the federal government borrowed from, and taxed, individual Canadians directly for the first time, through Victory Loans and income tax, which was introduced in 1917.

In the early 1930s the Government transferred detailed operational and program responsibilities to other departments or agencies, so the Department of Finance could concentrate on essential analytical and policy work.

In 1939, departmental officials developed a new approach to the federal budget. Instead of simply attempting to balance expenditures with revenues, they began to use taxing powers and spending policies to influence economic development in general.

During World War II, Canadian GNP doubled and annual federal spending increased to 10 times that of the 1939 figure, significantly increasing the influence of the department. Much of that influence was exercised through its budgets.

Canada's first Budget, tabled on December 7, 1867, showed $7.4 million in receipts and $5.3 million in expenditures. The shortest interval between Budgets was four months (June 18, 1971 to October 14, 1971). The longest was 16 months (February 25, 1937 to June 16, 1938).

In the early years, the Budget consisted simply of a speech by the Finance Minister in the House of Commons, which was recorded by hand in Hansard. Newspaper reporters sitting in the Press Gallery made notes on the speech, from which they wrote their stories. The Department did not provide the media with special Budget documentation or briefings. By the 1960s, copies of the Budget speech were produced on an ink-fed duplicating machine and collated by hand in the Minister's office. This document was given to reporters as the Minister began his speech.

The Department Today 

Today, the Department helps 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 central agency role, working with other departments to ensure that the government’s agenda is carried out ad that ministers are supported with high-quality analysis and advice.  And it does so as one of the Government of Canada's smallest departments, with fewer than 1,000 people working in its ten branches:

  • Economic and Fiscal Policy
  • Economic Development and Corporate Finance
  • Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy
  • Financial Sector Policy
  • International Trade and Finance
  • Tax Policy
  • Law
  • Corporate Services
  • Consultations and Communications
  • Internal Audit and Evaluation

The Department’s responsibilities include:

  • Preparing the federal Budget and the Update of Economic and Fiscal Projections;
  • Preparing the Annual Financial Report of the Government of Canada and, in cooperation with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Receiver General for Canada, the Public Accounts of Canada;
  • Developing tax and tariff policy and legislation;
  • Managing federal borrowing on financial markets;
  • Designing and administering major transfers of federal funds to the provinces and territories;
  • Developing financial sector policy and legislation; and
  • Representing Canada in various international financial institutions and groups.

Mandate of the Department of Finance Canada 

The Department of Finance Canada is established under section 14 of the Financial Administration Act. Under section 15 of that Act, The Minister of Finance “has the management and direction of the Department, the management of the Consolidated Revenue Fund and the supervision, control and direction of all matters relating to the financial affairs of Canada not by law assigned to the Treasury Board or to any other minister.” Certain other authorities have been entrusted to the Minister of Finance through various Acts of Parliament, including the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Canada Business Corporations Act, and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act.

The Department of Finance Canada contributes to a strong economy and sound public finances for Canadians. It does so by monitoring developments in Canada and around the world to provide first-rate analysis and advice to the Government of Canada and by developing and implementing fiscal and economic policies that support the economic and social goals of Canada and its people. The Department also plays a central role in ensuring that government spending is focused on results and delivers value for taxpayer dollars. The Department interacts extensively with other federal organizations and acts as an effective conduit for the views of participants in the economy from all parts of Canada.

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.

Strategic Outcome 

The Department of Finance Canada provides effective economic leadership with a clear focus in 2012‑2013 on one strategic outcome, which expressed a long-term and enduring benefit for Canadians:

A strong and economy and sound public finances for Canadians

The Department has four program activities, which each contain a varying number of program subactivities. The four program activities are Economic and Fiscal Policy Framework, Transfer and Taxation Payment Programs, Treasury and Financial Affairs, and Internal Services.

The Economic and Fiscal Policy Framework program activity is the primary source of advice and recommendations to the Minister of Finance on issues, policies and programs of the Government of Canada in the areas of economic, fiscal and social policy; federal-provincial relations; financial affairs; taxation; and international trade and finance.

The Transfer and Taxation Payment Programs program activity supports provinces and territories with funding for health, social programs and other shared priorities. Through transfer payments, this program activity enables less prosperous provincial governments to provide their residents with public services that are reasonably comparable to those in other provinces, at reasonably comparable levels of taxation, and provides territorial governments with funding to support public services, in recognition of the higher cost of providing programs and services in the North. This program activity also includes the collection and remittance of provincial, territorial and Aboriginal taxes under tax collection and administration agreements.

The Treasury and Financial Affairs program activity manages debt operations and other financial operations of the Government of Canada.

The Internal Services program activity includes a number of functions and resources that support the Department as a whole in achieving its strategic outcome

Administration of the Privacy Act 

Access to Information and Privacy Division 

The Access to Information and Privacy Division (ATIP) is part of the Law Branch and is responsible for administering the Act for the Department of Finance Canada. As a centralized operation, the ATIP Division coordinates the timely processing of requests under the legislation, handles complaints lodged with the Privacy Commissioner, and responds to informal inquiries. Division staff also provide advice and guidance to departmental officials on matters involving the Act. The ATIP Division comprises a director, two team leaders, eight full-time ATIP analysts and two administrative assistants.

Principles on Assistance to Applicants

With the passing of the Federal Accountabililty Act, section 4(2.1) was added to the Access to Information Act:

“The head of a government institution shall, without regard to the identity of a person making a request for access to a record under the control of the institution, make every reasonable effort to assist the person in connection with the request, respond to the request accurately and completely and, subject to the regulations, provide timely access to the record in the format requested.”

While a similar provision was not included in the Privacy Act, the Department is nonetheless committed to to both the spirit and intent of these principles, and adheres to the Act and to the Directive on Privacy Requests and Correction of Personal Information with respect to their application when processing Privacy Act requests.

Educational and training activities 

This year, the ATIP Division participated in two Orientation Sessions. These are provided to employees who are new to the Department as a means to introduce them to the activities of each Branch. ATIP provided information about the ATIP Division, the Act, and information management practices to 47 new employees.

The ATIP Division participated in one Management 101 course intended to provide junior managers with specific information to be taken into consideration by managers on a wide variety of subjects.  ATIP’s presentation addressed the following subjects:

  • the protection of employee personal information
  • protection of personal information in their program responsibilities
  • departmental responsibilities with respect to Info Source and Personal Information Banks
  • Privacy Impact Assessments
  • the Act and the Management Accountability Framework process
  • Treasury Board Secretariat’s role
  • the role of the Privacy Commissioner

The presentation was very well received by the 20 attendees and the positive feedback exceeded ATIP’s expectations.

A general Privacy Act session given by ATIP was attended by 10 employees.

Institutional changes to the administration of the Privacy Act 

There were no changes to the administration of the Act within the Department.

Delegation of authority 

The delegation of authority that was approved on March 31, 2008, remained in effect throughout the reporting period. The authority to approve or deny the release of information 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 ATIP Director. The ATIP Director normally performs the function, with the exception of disclosures pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Act, which are usually handled by the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Corporate Services Branch.

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

SCHEDULE 2
Designation Order—Privacy Act
Powers, Duties or Functions Section Deputy Minister Associate DM Associate DM and
G7 Deputy  for Canada
Assistant DM, Corporate Services Branch
To disclose personal information to an investigative body specified in the regulations, on the written request of the body, for the purpose of enforcing any law of Canada or a province or carrying out a lawful investigation, if the request specifies the purpose and describes the information to be disclosed 8(2)(e) yes yes yes yes

 

  Deputy
Minister
Associate DM Associate DM and G7 Deputy for Canada ADM and Counsel,
Law Branch
Director, ATIP ATIP Team Leader
Senior ATIP Analyst
To disclose personal information when satisfied that the purpose for which the information is disclosed cannot reasonably be accomplished unless the information is provided in a form that identifies the person to whom it relates and to obtain a written undertaking that no subsequent disclosure of the information will be made in a form that could reasonably be expected to identify the individual to whom it relates 8(2)(j) yes yes yes yes yes no
To disclose personal information when public interest outweighs invasion of privacy or when disclosure benefits the individual 8(2)(m) yes yes yes yes yes no
To keep copies of requests made under 8(2)(e), keep records of information disclosed pursuant to such requests and make those copies and records available to the Privacy Commissioner 8(4) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To notify the Privacy Commissioner in writing of disclosure under paragraph 8(2)(m) 8(5) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To retain a record of use of personal information 9(1) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To notify the Privacy Commissioner of consistent use of personal information and update index accordingly 9(4) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To include personal information in personal information banks 10 yes yes yes yes yes yes
To give written notice as to whether or not access will be given 14(a) yes yes yes yes yes no
To give access to requester 14(b) yes yes yes yes yes no
To extend time limit and give notice of extension 15 yes yes yes yes yes yes
To determine the necessity for a translation or interpretation of a record 17(2)(b) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To determine whether a record should be provided in an alternative format 17(3) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 18(2) yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 19(1) yes yes yes yes yes no
To disclose, with consent, personal information referred to in that subsection 19(2) yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 20 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 21 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 22 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 22.3 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information referred to in that section 23 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information under that section 24 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information under that section 25 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information under that section 26 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information under that section 27 yes yes yes yes yes no
To refuse to disclose personal information under that section 28 yes yes yes yes yes no
To receive notice of investigation by the
Privacy Commissioner
31 yes yes yes yes yes no
To make representations to the Privacy Commissioner 33(2) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To receive the report of findings of the investigation and give notice of action taken or proposed to be taken or reasons why no action has been or is proposed to be taken 35(1) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To provide access to personal information 35(4) yes yes yes yes yes no
To receive the report of findings of the investigation of files in exempt banks 36(3) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To receive the report of findings after investigation in respect of personal information 37(3) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To request that the matter be heard and determined in the National Capital Region 51(2)(b) yes yes yes yes yes yes
To request the opportunity to make representations ex parte 51(3) yes yes yes yes yes yes
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, not included above 77 yes yes yes yes yes yes

Data matching and sharing activities 

No new data matching or sharing activities were undertaken during the year.

Exempt banks 

The Department holds no personal information in its Personal Information Banks that requires designation under section 18 of the Act.

Interpretation of Statistical Report 

Part 1 – Requests under the Privacy Act 

The Department received five Privacy Act requests this reporting year, eight less than were received in 2011-2012 . No requests were carried over from 2011-2012. All five requests were closed by the end of the fiscal year.

Part 2 – Requests closed during the reporting period 

Disposition/completion time 

Many individuals who submit Privacy Act requests are under the impression that the Department holds the same type and amount of personal information about them as is held by the Canada Revenue Agency, banks, and trust companies. That is certainly not the case and explains why many requests do not result in the retrieval of personal information about those individuals. The following table indicates the disposition of the five completed requests this fiscal:

Requests closed during the reporting period
Disposition Number of Requests Percentage of Requests
All disclosed 3 60.0%
Disclosed in part 0 0%
All exempted 0 0%
All excluded 0 0%
No records exist 2 40.0 %
Request abandoned 0 0 %
 
Total 5 100.0 %

In three instances, the personal information requested was provided to the individuals in its entirety. A total of 112 pages was provided.  

In two instances, no personal information could be found about the requesters. In one case, the requested information concerned a competitive process that took place 11 years ago and the information about the individual longer existed. In the other, the individual requested information that the department does not collect.

Of the five requests received, three were closed in less than 15 days. Two requests required 20 and 29 days to complete.

Exemptions / exclusions

No exemptions or exclusions were claimed.

Format of information released 

In the three cases where personal information was released, it was provided to the individuals in paper format.

Complexity 

None of the requests were complex.  In the three cases where personal information existed, a total of 112 pages were processed and all of the information was released.

Deemed refusals 

All requests were responded to within the statutory time frames set out in the Act.

Translations 

One translation was made in order to respond to one request of 97 pages.

Part 3 – Disclosures under subsection 8(2) 

Paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Act allows for disclosures of personal information “to an investigative body…for the purpose of enforcing any law.”  The Department did not make any disclosures pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Act in this reporting period.

Paragraph 8(2)(m) of the Act allows for disclosures of personal information in the public interest.  The Department did not make any disclosures pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(m) of the Act in this reporting period.

Part 4 – Requests for correction of personal information and notations 

No requests for corrections or notations were received from applicants.

Part 5 – Extensions 

No extensions of the statutory time limits under the Act were taken.

Part 6 – Consultations received from other government institutions/organizations 

No consultations were received from other government institutions or organizations.

Part 7 – Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences 

No consultations with respect to Cabinet confidences were required.

Part 8 – Resources related to the Privacy Act 

As a limited number of requests were received, the cost to administer the Act was minimal at $3,617. Five employees were involved in the processing the requests, at the PM-02, PM-03, PM-04, PM-06 and EX-01 level.

Complaints 

No complaints were received this reporting period.

Appeals to the Federal Court of Canada

No appeals were made to the Federal Court.

Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs)

The Department commenced one Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) this year to address the purchase of a Real Time Identifcation (RTID) system to automate the capture and transmission of employee fingerprints for security clearance purposes. 

No PIAs were completed this fiscal year.

APPENDIX A

Statistical Report on Privacy Act Requests

Statistical Report on the Privacy Act

Name of institution: Department of Finance Canada
Reporting period: April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013

PART 1 – Requests under the Privacy Act

Received during reporting period:
5
Outstanding from previous reporting period:
0
Total:
5
Closed during reporting period:
5
Carried over to next reporting period:
0

PART 2 – Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

All disclosed:

1 to 15 days:
1
16 to 30 days:
2
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
3

Disclosed in part:

1 to 15 days:
0
16 to 30 days:
0
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
0

All exempted:  

1 to 15 days:
0
16 to 30 days:
0
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
0

All excluded:

1 to 15 days:
0
16 to 30 days:
0
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
0

No records exist:

1 to 15 days:
2
16 to 30 days:
0
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
2

Request abandoned:

1 to 15 days:
0
16 to 30 days:
0
31 to 60 days:
0
61 to 120 days:
0
121 to 180 days:
0
181 to 365 days:
0
More than 365 days:
0
Total:
0

2.2 Exemptions

No exemptions were claimed under sections 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 or 28 of the Act

2.3 Exclusions

No exclusions were claimed under sections 69 or 70 of the Act.

2.4 Format of information released

All disclosed:
2 in paper format, 0 in electronic format, 0 in other formats
Disclosed in part:
1 in paper format, 0 in electronic format, 0 in other formats
Total:
3 in paper format, 0 in electronic format, 0 in other formats

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed

All disclosed:
8 pages processed; 8 pages disclosed; 2 requests
Disclosed in part:
252 pages processed; 217 pages disclosed; 1 request
All exempted:
0 pages processed; 0 pages disclosed; 0 requests
All excluded:
0 pages processed; 0 pages disclosed; 0 requests
Request abandoned:
0 pages processed; 0 pages disclosed; 2 requests

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests

All disclosed (less than 100 pages processed):
2 requests; 8 pages disclosed
All disclosed (101 to more than 5,000 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed

 

Disclosed in part (less than 100 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed
Disclosed in part (101 to 500 pages processed):
1 requests; 217 pages disclosed
Disclosed in part (501 to over 5,000 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed

 

All exempted (1 page to over 5,000 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed

 

All excluded (1 page to over 5,000 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed

 

Abandoned (less than 100 pages processed):
2 requests; 0 pages disclosed
Abandoned (101 to over 5,000 pages processed):
0 requests; 0 pages disclosed

2.5.3 Other complexities

All disclosed:
no consultations, legal advice, interwoven information, or other complexity in any cases
Disclosed in part:
no consultations or legal advice in any cases, interwoven information in 1 case, no other complexity in any cases  
All exempted:
no consultations, legal advice, interwoven information, or other complexity in any cases
All excluded:
no consultations, legal advice, interwoven information, or other complexity in any cases
Abandoned:
no consultations, legal advice, interwoven information, or other complexity in any cases

2.6 Deemed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline

One request was closed past the statutory deadline for other reasons. 

2.6.2 Number of days past deadline

1 to 15 days:
0 requests past deadline where no extension taken and 0 past deadline where extension taken.
16 to 30 days:
1 request past deadline where no extension taken and 0 past deadline where extention taken, for a total of 1 request.
31 to more than 365 days:
0 requests past deadline where no extension taken and 0 past deadline where extension taken

2.7 Requests for translation

No translations from English to French were received.  No translations from French to English were received.

PART 3 – Disclosures under subsection 8(2)

No disclosures were made under paragraphs 8(2)(e) or 8(2)(m) of the Act.

PART 4 – Requests for correction of personal information and notations

No requests for correction were received, none were accepted, and none were refused.

PART 5 – Extensions

5.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

All disclosed:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).
Disclosed in part:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).
All exempted:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).
All excluded:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).
No records exist:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).
Request abandoned:
0 extensions taken under sections 15(1)(a(i), 15(1)(ii), or 15(b).

5.2 Length of extensions

No extensions were taken.

PART 6 – Consultations received from other institutions & organizations

6.1 Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations

During the reporting period, no consultations were received from other government institutions or organizations, none were outstanding from the previous period, none were closed in the current reporting period, and none were pending at the end of the reporting period.

6.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government institutions

No recommendations were made for consultations as none were received.

6.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

No recommendations were made for consultations as none were received.

PART 7 – Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

No consultations on Cabinet confidences were required.

PART 8 – Resources related to the Privacy Act

8.1 Costs

Salaries:
$2,430.00
Overtime:   
$00.00
Goods and services:
$00.00
Total:  
$2,430.00

8.2 Human resources

Four employees were dedicated on a part-time basis to Privacy Act requests.  No part-time, casual, regional, consultants, agency personnel or students were involved in the processing of Privacy Act requests.