Archived - Department of Finance Canada
Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the
Access to Information Act
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Table of Contents
This Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (the Act) within the Department of Finance Canada is being submitted in accordance with section 72 of the Act and covers the period from April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010.
The Act came 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.
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. These include 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 as follows:
- Fiscal and monetary policy
- Budget preparation and planning
- Tax policy
- Debt and exchange fund management
- Tariff and certain aspects of trade and
- Financial sector policy
- International financial arrangements
- Federal‑provincial fiscal arrangements (policy and program administration)
- Private pension policy and public pension financing
- 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
The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Division 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, conducts interdepartmental consultations, handles complaints lodged with the Information Commissioner, and responds to informal inquiries. ATIP staff also provides advice, guidance and training to departmental officials on matters involving the Act.
The ATIP Division comprises a director, two team leaders, nine full-time ATIP analysts, one part-time analyst, and two administrative assistants.
During the past year, the ATIP Division organized eight educational and training activities for all branches of the Department. It also participated in four of the Department’s orientation sessions, providing information about the Act and proper information management procedures to 126 employees new to the Department. In addition, ATIP provided three Access to Information Act training sessions that included a total of 83 employees. Ad hoc training was also provided as needed or requested by departmental branches or individuals.
No new policies, guidelines or 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. 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.
|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|
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.
The number of requests received under the Act in this reporting period was 310, a 4.4% decrease from 324 requests the previous reporting year. This is the third consecutive decrease since
2006–07 when 444 requests were received. This reporting year, the total number of requests considered was 375 as 65 requests remained outstanding from 2008–09. By the end of 2009–10, 309 requests had been completed, with 66 carried forward to 2010–11.
In 2009–10, the ATIP Division also received 120 new consultations from other departments on matters of interest to the Department of Finance Canada. By the end of the year, 122 had been completed (includes some consultations that were carried over from the previous fiscal year).
While more than half the requests this year came from business (54.8%), this is not an overly large increase from the previous year of 46.9%. The largest differences were seen in the number of requests received from the public (a 10.1% increase, or 30 requests) and from organizations (a 9.2% decrease, also 30 requests). The next largest difference had to do with the number of requests received from the media (a decrease of 7.1%, or 26 requests). Requests received from members of the remaining category, academia, decreased slightly by 1.9%, or six requests.
|Public||28||8.6 %||58||18.7 %|
|Media||94||29.0 %||68||21.9 %|
|Business||152||46.9 %||170||54.8 %|
|Academia||9||2.8 %||3||0.9 %|
|Organizations||41||12.7 %||11||3.5 %|
To determine whether there had been any noteworthy differences over the years as to the sources of requests, this year’s figures were compared to the average number of requests by category over a five-year span.
2004–05 to 2008–09
|Public||46||12.8 %||58||18.7 %|
|Media||106||29.6 %||68||21.9 %|
|Business||159||44.5 %||170||54.8 %|
|Academia||4||1 %||3||0.9 %|
|Organizations||40||11.2 %||11||3.5 %|
The following table indicates the disposition of the 309 requests completed during this reporting period:
|All disclosed||25||8.1 %|
|Disclosed in part||158||51.2 %|
|Nothing disclosed (excluded)||2||0.6 %|
|Nothing disclosed (exempt)||2||0.6 %|
|Unable to process||108||35.0 %|
|Abandoned by applicant||11||3.5 %|
|Treated informally||1||0.3 %|
Records fully disclosed
In 8.09% of the 309 requests completed (25 cases), the applicants were provided full access to the records they requested.
Records partially disclosed
In the majority of cases (51.13%, or 158 requests), some exemptions and/or exclusions needed to be invoked before the records could be provided to the applicants.
No records disclosed
In only four cases (1.29%) was the Department required to deny access to records in their entirety.
Only two requests were transferred to other government institutions that had a greater interest in the records being sought by the applicants.
Unable to process
No relevant records were found regarding 108 requests (34.95% of cases). The majority of these (73 files) were responses to a group of applicants who submit monthly requests for comfort letters.
In 11 cases, applicants either failed to clarify the nature of their requests or were unwilling to pay the requisite fees and, therefore, the requests were abandoned.
Only one of the 309 requests completed was treated on an informal basis.
This year, the ATIP Division wished to see whether the disposition of completed requests had changed over the last few years. A comparison was made between this year’s figures and the average disposition rates over a five-year period.
2004–05 to 2008–09 (rounded figures)
|All disclosed||31||9 %||25||8.1 %|
|Disclosed in part||207||58 %||158||51.2 %|
|Nothing disclosed (excluded)||6||1 %||2||0.6 %|
|Nothing disclosed (exempt)||3||1 %||2||0.6 %|
|Transferred||2||1 %||2||0.6 %|
|Unable to process||86||24 %||108||35.0 %|
|Abandoned by applicant||19||5 %||11||3.5 %|
|Treated informally||3||1 %||1||0.3 %|
|Average # Completed / Completed 2009–10||357||100 %||309||99.9 %|
During the period, the following exemptions were invoked:
|Sections of the Act||General Provisions||Number of Files
|Section 13||Information obtained in confidence from other governments||40|
|Section 14||Federal-provincial affairs||70|
|Section 15||International affairs and defence||35|
|Section 16||Law enforcement and investigations||13|
|Section 17||Safety of individuals||1|
|Section 18||Economic interests of Canada||118|
|Section 19||Personal information||76|
|Section 20||Third party information||100|
|Section 21||Operations of government||227|
|Section 22||Testing procedures, tests and audits||3|
|Section 23||Solicitor-client privilege||19|
|Section 24||Statutory prohibitions||10|
|Section 26||Information to be published||2|
During this reporting period, the following exclusions applied:
|Sections of the Act||General Provisions||Number of Files
|Section 68||Published material||6|
|Section 69||Confidences of the
Queen’s Privy Council
This year, 90.6% of closed requests were completed on time. This is slightly better than last year’s reporting rate of 90.1%. The Department is committed to maintaining or improving its compliance rate in responding to requests under the Act.
Of the 309 requests completed during the reporting period, 173 (or 55.98%) were completed within 30 days, 48 (or 15.53%) were completed within 31 to 60 days, 46 (or 14.88%) were completed within 61 to 120 days, and 42 (or 13.59%) 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.
The Department has not been the subject of a Report Card by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) for quite some time. However, it has conducted self-assessments using the OIC’s mathematical formula to determine its “grade.” The self-assessment resulted in a “C” in 2005–06 and a constant “B” from 2006 to 2009. In the 2009–10 self-assessment, the Department has again attained a “B” grade.
During the reporting period, extensions of 30 days or less were invoked as follows:
|Searching for large number of records||16|
|Consultation with other government institutions||22|
|Notification of third parties||19|
Extensions of 31 days or over were invoked as follows:
|Searching for large number of records||9|
|Consultation with other government institutions||59|
|Notification of third parties||42|
No requests for translations were received.
In 183 cases, access was provided to the applicants either on paper or by compact disk. No applicants asked to view the records they had requested as opposed to receiving a copy.
There have been no changes to the departmental fee policy. With the exception of the $5.00 application fee, fees assessed at less than $25.00 are waived.
During this reporting year, $1,825.00 in fees were collected, approximately $2,600 less than in the previous reporting year. This is largely due to an increase in demand for records in compact disk format.
Costs incurred during the reporting period are calculated based on the salaries of ATIP staff
(14 full-time employees and one part-time employee) and the administrative expenses associated with administration of the Act. Costs do not include the salaries of 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.
There were 14 complaints initiated against the Department, which represents 4.5% of the requests completed during the reported period. The categories of the complaints are as follows:
|Reasons for Complaint||Complaints|
|Refusal (general or exemption)||7|
|Refusal (exclusion, section 69)||3|
Of the 14 complaints received this fiscal year, three were deemed to be not well-founded by the Information Commissioner, seven were resolved, and two were discontinued. Findings have yet to be rendered regarding the remaining two files, one of which is a complaint about the exemptions claimed, while the other concerns an extension of the statutory time limit. The Information Commissioner’s investigations did not raise any specific issues or concerns.
No appeals to the Federal Court were made in this reporting period.