Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015
Access to Information Act
Part II: Report on the Access to Information Act
Requests Under the Access to Information Act
I. Statistical Report
The annual statistical report for Fiscal Year 2014-2015 is included at the end of this chapter.
II. Interpretation of the Statistical Report
|Fiscal Year||# of Requests Received||# of Requests Completed||# of Pages Processed||# of Pages Released|
Requests Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act
520 requests were received during the period under review. In addition, 113 requests were carried forward from previous years, for a total of 633 requests. The number of requests received represents a decrease of 28 requests from last year’s total of 548 requests.
The Public was the largest group of requesters. Of the 520 requests received during this reporting period, 208 (40%) requests came from the public, followed by 143 from the media (28%), and 86 from businesses (16%).
Request Completed Pursuant to the Access to Information Act
551 requests were completed during the period under review. 82 requests were carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2015-2016.
Of 551 requests, 509 (92 %) were completed within the allowable time limits.
There was an increase in the number of pages released from those of the previous year (28%). Responding to formal access to information requests involved the review of 156,091 pages, of which 60,011 pages were partially or entirely disclosed.
Disposition of Completed Requests
Of the 551 requests completed in Fiscal Year 2014-2015:
- 109 were transferred to other federal institutions that possessed a greater interest in the subject matter of the request;
- No relevant records existed under the control of the Department of Justice for 127 requests; and,
- 48 requests were abandoned by the applicant. In the majority of cases, the applicant did not pursue the requests, either by withdrawing them or by not providing the clarification that was requested by the ATIP Office.
The remaining 267 requests were released in the following manner:
- 48 were fully disclosed (18 %);
- 195 were partially disclosed (73 %);
- 16 were exempted in their entirety (6 %); and,
- 8 were excluded in its entirety (3%).
Completion Time and Extensions
Out of the 551 requests completed in 2014-2015, 410 (74 %) were processed within 30 days or less.
The ATIP Office routinely monitors the processing time for access to information requests. This routine monitoring is done through various statistical reports (weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly) and meetings with ATIP staff to ensure that requests are being processed in a most timely manner. All ATIP staff, portfolio contacts and senior management are made aware of the performance metrics.
In some instances, the Department found it necessary to seek extensions to the prescribed time limits due to the large number of records (85 times) and/or to consult with other government institutions (82 times) or third parties (5 times).
The Department invoked exemptions under the ATIA for 211 requests. Section 21 was invoked most often (187 times), which exempts information relating to the internal decision-making processes of government. This is followed by section 19 (140 times), which exempts personal information, and section 23 (113 times), which exempts information relating to solicitor-client privilege. For further details regarding all of the exemptions invoked, please refer to the Statistical Report at the end of this chapter.
Exclusions were invoked a total of 13 times pursuant to section 68 (published material or material available for purchase by the public) and 90 times pursuant to section 69 (confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada) of the ATIA.
Method of Access
A total of 164 requesters wanted copies and 79 requesters chose to receive information on CD-ROM at no extra charge, thereby eliminating the costs for photocopies as well as reducing the ATIP Office’s paper footprint.
Fees and Fee Waivers
During the reporting period, $2,625.00 was collected in application fees, and fees were waived in 26 instances ($130.00). Search fees were collected in three instances for a total of $275.00 and were waived or refunded in two other instances ($380.00). An additional $1,388.00 was waived in reproduction fees (123 instances).
The policy of the Department of Justice is to waive the reproduction fees under 200 sheets (double-sided = 400 actual pages in total). However, when more than 200 sheets are released, fees are calculated for the total number of sheets. For extensive or complex requests, search and preparation fees are charged as determined on a case-by-case basis. The Department offers the requesters the possibility of receiving the release package on CD-ROM at no charge, an option which tends to be more widely accepted.
During the reporting period, the Department of Justice waived all reproduction fees.
III. Consultations by other Federal Institutions or Departments
Overview of Consultations Requests Received from Other Government Institutions and Organizations
|Fiscal Year||# of Requests Received||# of Pages Received||# of Requests Completed||# of Pages Reviewed|
During the period under review, the Department received 587 requests from other government institutions and organizations requesting recommendations regarding records originating from, pertaining to, or of interest to the Department of Justice. In addition, 89 consultations outstanding from previous years were carried over, for a total of 676. In total, the Department was asked to review 42,371 pages of information for these consultations.
Of the 676 consultations active throughout the reporting period, 613 were completed during the 2014-2015 fiscal year (38,564 pages) and the remaining amount, 63, was carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2015-2016 (3,807 pages).
IV. Other Types of Requests
The policy of the ATIP Office is to process requests on an informal basis when records have already been released in response to previous ATIA requests or where the Department has already informally released documents elsewhere. As a result of the online posting of summaries of completed ATIA requests, there was an increase of informal requests for previously released information.
The ATIP Office processed 148 informal requests. This number does not include the numerous emails or telephone calls from potential applicants who were responded to informally or were redirected to other institutions.
The ATIP Office also acted as a resource on several occasions for departmental officials as well as those from other government institutions, offering advice and guidance on the provisions of the legislation as well as related policies. The Office was consulted on the disclosure and collection of information on a wide range of issues.
V. Complaints, Investigations and Federal Court Cases
31 complaints were filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) during the reporting period. The reasons for the complaints were as follows:
- 2 related to time limits;
- 2 related to the extension;
- 22 concerned the exemption or exclusion of information; and
- 5 concerned the handling of the request.
Complaint findings are defined as follows:
- Well founded: The OIC found evidence of the complainant’s rights being denied under the ATIA;
- Not well founded: As a result of the investigation, the OIC found that the institution applied the ATIA;
- Discontinued: The complaint was withdrawn or abandoned by the complainant before allegations were fully investigated; and,
- Settled: The complaint was settled to the satisfaction of all parties without the need for the OIC to make a finding.
A total of 22 investigations were completed during the reporting period, some of which had been carried forward from previous years. Out of these 22, three complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the OIC, three were well founded, four were not well founded, and 12 were discontinued by the complainant.
The key issues raised and actions taken
Information to be published:
The OIC continues to challenge the Department on its broad interpretation of section 26 of the Act and whether it may be interpreted to include the preparation of records for posting on a website as outlined in its internal guidance document. Although the Department maintains its position, at the request of the OIC, it has amended its internal guidance document to clarify that section 26 is a discretionary exemption and is awaiting the OIC’s final report on the matter.
At the end of the fiscal year, 75 complaints were still under investigation by the OIC.
Review by the Federal Court of Canada
No applications were filed before the Federal Court pursuant to sections 41, 42, and 44 of the ATIA during this fiscal year.
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