Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act

PDF   Annual Report to Parliament on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (PDF)

April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC) is pleased to present to Parliament its annual report on the administration of the Access to Information Act (the Act) for fiscal year April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020.

Section 72 of the Act requires the head of every federal government institution to prepare and table an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act during the fiscal year. This report provides an overview of the activities of the ATSSC in implementing the Act.

The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution. It maintains that government information should be available to the public that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific, and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

The Act is intended to complement and not replace existing procedures for access to records and is not intended to limit in any way access to the information that is normally available to the public.

The ATSSC is fully committed to both the spirit and the intent of the Act to foster a culture of openness and transparency within the organization.

A copy of the Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act is included in Appendix B.

About the ATSSC

The Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada (ATSSC) was established with the coming into force on November 1, 2014, of the Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada Act. The ATSSC is responsible for providing support services and facilities to 11 federal administrative tribunals by way of a single, integrated organization.

These services include the specialized services required to support the mandate of each tribunal (e.g., registry, research and analysis, legal and other mandate or case activities), as well as internal services (e.g., human resources, financial services, information management and technology, accommodation, security, planning and communications). Through these specialized services, the ATSSC supports improving access to justice for Canadians.

The administrative tribunals supported by the ATSSC include:

  • Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal;
  • Canada Industrial Relations Board;
  • Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board;
  • Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;
  • Canadian International Trade Tribunal;
  • Competition Tribunal;
  • Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board;
  • Public Servants Disclosure Protection Tribunal;
  • Social Security Tribunal of Canada;
  • Specific Claims Tribunal Canada; and
  • Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

The ATSSC also supports the National Joint Council, the forum for co-development, consultation and information sharing between the government as employer and public service bargaining agents.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is responsible for the ATSSC.

Organizational Structure

The Access to Information and Privacy Office

The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office is responsible for administering the Access to Information Act (the Act) on behalf of the ATSSC. Its mandate is to ensure compliance with the legislation, regulations and government policy and to create organizational standards and directives relating to the Act. Responsibility for the powers, duties and functions for the administration of the Act has been formally established and is outlined in the Delegation Order signed by the Chief Administrator. The Director General, Corporate Services Branch, The Director, Planning and Communications Division and the ATIP Manager have been delegated authorities as described in the Delegation Order included in Appendix A.

Within the ATSSC’s organizational structure, the ATIP Office reports to the Planning and Communications Unit which is part of Corporate Services Division. Oversight of the ATIP Office is administered by the Director, Planning and Communications. The ATIP Office consists of the manager and one analyst dedicated to access to information and privacy activities.

The ATIP Office receives, coordinates and processes requests in accordance with the Act, promotes awareness of the Act within the organization, fulfills reporting responsibilities relating to the Act. The ATIP office also provides expert advice and guidance to senior management and ATSSC staff on matters relating to the Act.

The ATSSC has not entered into any service agreements under section 96 of the Access to Information Act during this reporting period.

ATSSC Performance 2019-2020

The ATSSC received a total of 38 formal requests under the Act. Twelve requests were carried over from last fiscal year; 46 of the 50 requests were completed, with 93.5% of the requests closed within legislative deadlines. Four requests were carried forward into the new fiscal year.

In addition to the formal requests, the ATSSC received 30 consultations (totaling 466 pages) from other federal institutions as well as one informal request. All consultations and informal requests were responded to during this fiscal year; none were carried forward.

As indicated in the chart below, since the 2017-2018 fiscal year, ATSSC has experienced an increase of 91% in formal requests; a decrease of 31% in consultations and a decrease of 21% in informal requests for access to records.

ATSSC Performance 2019-2020

Extensions and Completion Time

Requests can be extended beyond the 30-day statutory time frame in three circumstances:

  • the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records (paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Act);
  • consultations are necessary (paragraph 9(1)(b) of the Act); or
  • the request requires giving notice to a third party (paragraph 9(1)(c) of the Act).

During this reporting period, an extension under paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Act was taken in four cases because the request was for a large number of records or meeting the original time limit would have unreasonably interfered with the operations of the ATSSC. In three cases, an extension was taken under paragraph 9(1)(b) as consultations were required within the ATSSC and with other institutions. Additionally, an extension under paragraph 9(1)(c) was taken in one case as a consultation with third party was necessary.

As indicated in the chart below, the ATSSC responded to 26 requests within one to 15 days, 10 requests within 16 to 30 days, and two requests within 31 to 60 days. Six requests required 61 to 120 days to complete, one required 121 to 180 days and one request required 181 to 365 days to complete. Of the 46 requests completed during this reporting period, 43 (93%) were completed within the statutory time frame.

Extensions and Completion Time

Impact of COVID-19 on ATIP Operations

ATSSC’s ATIP office has been equipped for virtual operations since 2019, with analysts able to work remotely. While the ATSSC is equipped with an electronic records repository, the retrieval of records in response to requests has been challenged by COVID-19. Not all of the records have been digitized and stored in an accessible repository and not all administrative Tribunals are equipped with e-Registry services. At the writing of this Report, only one request has been affected and the requester has been informed.

Fees

The Service Fees Act requires a responsible authority to report annually to Parliament on the fees collected by the institution. With respect to fees collected under the Access to Information Act, the information below is reported in accordance with the requirements of section 20 of the Service Fees Act.

The Access to Information Act and Regulations set out the fees which may be collected for the purposes of processing requests.

As per the Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, issued on May 5, 2016, the ATSSC waives all fees prescribed by the Act and Regulations, other than the $5 application fee in paragraph 7(1)(a) of the Regulations. No requests necessitated a fee waiver during this reporting period.

During the reporting period, of the 38 requests received, the ATSSC collected the $5 application fee in 25 cases. This represents a total revenue of $125. Additionally, application fees were waived for 13 requests, totaling $65. The total operating cost for the ATSSC’s ATIP Office during this fiscal year was $174,708.

Training and Awareness

To increase the knowledge and understanding of the Act across the ATSSC, training and awareness sessions were delivered by the ATIP Office. These sessions provided general information on the purpose and provisions of the Act, as well as the roles and responsibilities of employees and the ATIP Office.

Ongoing briefings occurred on an ad-hoc basis with our liaison officers. The liaison officers assist the ATIP Office in producing the requested records and providing insight into the subject matter of the requests.

Policies, Guidelines, Procedures and Initiatives

The ATSSC is guided by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) suite of access to information policy and guidance instruments. With the modifications to the Access to Information Act that required the pro publication of specific briefing materials, the ATIP office participated in developing procedures that ensured a review of records subject to pro publication. ATIP identified areas of the records that would be subject to exemptions under the legislation.

Summary of Key Issues and Actions Taken on Complaints or Audits

This reporting period, two complaints were filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC) against the ATSSC regarding the time limits of the access to information requests. The complainant alleges that the ATSSC failed to respond to the requests within the time limits set out in the Access to Information Act. The OIC completed their investigation regarding both complaints. Since the complainant received the responsive records, the OIC’s finding concluded that both complaints are resolved.

In response to the delay complaints, the ATSSC engaged with the associated Tribunal with suggestions for ways to locate, retrieve and assess records more efficiently.

Monitoring Compliance

The monitoring of access to information requests was conducted through the case management system containing all relevant and necessary information to ensure compliance with the legislated requirements and reporting obligations. Weekly meetings between the ATIP Manager and the ATIP Senior ATIP Advisor as well as meetings between the ATIP Manager and the Director, Planning and Communications to discuss workload and priorities also assisted the ATSSC in meeting its statutory obligations. Where required, the Director engaged with managers at the associated Tribunal(s) to ensure appropriate compliance.


Appendix A

Access to Information Act
Delegation Order

Delegation Order for the purpose of the Access to Information Act and Access to Information Regulations

The Chief Administrator, pursuant to subsection 95(1) of the Access to Information Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the person occupying the position on an acting basis, to exercise the powers, duties and functions of the Chief Admministrator as the head of the Administrative Trubunal Support Services of Canada, under the provisions of the Act and related regulations as specified in the schedule opposit each position.

This Delegation Order supersedes all previous Delegation Orders.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Dated, at the City of Ottawa, this 5th day of March, 2020

Original signed by:
Orlando Da Silva
______________________________________
Chief Administrator

Schedule

Powers, duties and functions delegated pursuant to subsection 95(1) of the Access to Information Act and the Access to Information Regulations

Legend:

CA
Chief Administrator
DG
Director General, Corporate Services
D
Director, Planning and Communications
M
Manager, Access to Information and Privacy
Access to Information Act
Provision Description CA DG D M
  ACCESS        
4(2.1) Responsibility of government institutions X X X X
7(a) Notice when access requested X X X X
7(b) Giving access to the record X X X X
8(1) Transfer of request to another government institution X X X X
9 Extension of time limits X X X X
11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) Additional fees X X X X
12(2)(b) Language of access X X X X
12(3)(b) Access in an alternative format X X X X
  EXEMPTIONS        
13 Information obtained in confidence X X X  
14 Federal-provincial affairs X X X  
15 International affairs and defence X X X  
16 Law enforcement and investigations X X X  
16.5 Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act X X X  
17 Safety of individuals X X X  
18 Economic interests of Canada X X X  
18.1 Economic interest of certain government institutions X X X  
19 Personal information X X X X
20 Third party information X X X  
21 Operations of Government X X X X
22 Testing procedures, tests and audits X X X X
22.1 Internal Audits X X X X
23 Solicitor-client privilege X X X X
24 Statutory prohibitions X X X X
  OTHER PROVISIONS        
25 Severability X X X X
26 Information to be published X X X X
27(1), (4) Third party notification X X X X
28(1)(b), (2), (4) Third party notification X X X X
29(1) Where the Information Commissioner recommends disclosure X X X X
33 Advising Information Commissioner of third-party involvement X X X X
35(2)(b) Right to make representations X X X X
37(4) Access to be given to complainant X X X X
43(1) Notice to third party (application to Federal Court for review) X X X X
44(2) Notice to applicant (application to Federal Court by third party) X X X X
52(2)(b), (3) Special rules for hearings X X X X
71(1) Facilities for inspection of manuals X X X X
72 Annual report to Parliament X X X X
Access to Information Regulations
Provision Description CA DG D M
6(1) Transfer of request X X X X
7(2) Search and preparation fees X X X X
7(3) Production and programming fees X X X X
8 Method of access X X X X
8.1 Limitations in respect of format X X X X

Appendix B

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Name of institution: Administrative Tribunals Support Service of Canada

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-03-31


Section 1: Requests Under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requests
  Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 38
Outstanding from previous reporting period 12
Total 50
Closed during reporting period 46
Carried over to next reporting period 4
1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number of Requests
Media 4
Academia 0
Business (private sector) 8
Organization 0
Public 25
Decline to Identify 1
Total 38
1.3 Informal requests
Completion Time
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1

Note: All requests previously recorded as “treated informally” will now be accounted for in this section only.

Section 2: Decline to act on vexatious, made in bad faith or abuse of right requests

  Number of Requests
Outstanding from previous reporting period 0
Sent during reporting period 0
Total 0
Approved by the Information Commissioner during reporting period 0
Declined by the Information Commissioner during reporting period 0
Carried over to next reporting period 0

Section 3: Requests Closed During the Reporting Period

3.1 Disposition and completion time
Disposition of Requests Completion Time
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
All disclosed 1 2 2 1 0 0 0 6
Disclosed in part 0 1 0 4 1 1 0 7
All exempted 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
No records exist 19 7 0 0 0 0 0 26
Request transferred 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Request abandoned 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commisioner 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 26 10 2 6 1 1 0 46
3.2 Exemptions
Section Number of Requests
13(1)(a)0
13(1)(b)0
13(1)(c)0
13(1)(d)0
13(1)(e)0
14 0
14(a)0
14(b)0
15(1)0
15(1) - I.A.0
15(1) - Def.0
15(1) - S.A.0
16(1)(a)(i) 0
16(1)(a)(ii)0
16(1)(a)(iii)0
16(1)(b)0
16(1)(c)1
16(1)(d)0
16(2)0
16(2)(a)0
16(2)(b)0
16(2)(c)0
16(3)0
16.1(1)(a)0
16.1(1)(b)0
16.1(1)(c)0
16.1(1)(d)0
16.2(1)0
16.30
16.310
16.4(1)(a)0
16.4(1)(b)0
16.50
16.60
173
18(a)0
18(b)0
18(c)0
18(d)0
18.1(1)(a)0
18.1(1)(b)0
18.1(1)(c)0
18.1(1)(d)0
19(1)4
20(1)(a)0
20(1)(b)1
20(1)(b.1)0
20(1)(c)1
20(1)(d)0
20.10
20.20
20.40
21(1)(a)4
21(1)(b)5
21(1)(c)1
21(1)(d)2
220
22.1(1)0
232
23.10
24(1)1
260
3.3 Exclusions
Section Number of Requests
68(a)0
68(b)0
68(c)0
68.10
68.2(a)0
68.2(b)0
69(1)0
69(1)(a)0
69(1)(b)0
69(1)(c)0
69(1)(d)0
69(1)(e)0
69(1)(f)0
69(1)(g) re (a)0
69(1)(g) re (b)0
69(1)(g) re (c)0
69(1)(g) re (d)0
69(1)(g) re (e)0
69(1)(g) re (f)0
69.1(1) 0
3.4 Format of information released
Paper Electronic Other Formats
2 11 0

3.5 Complexity

3.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Number of Pages Processed Number of Pages Disclosed Number of Requests
3715 1633 15
3.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less Than 100 Pages Processed 101-500 Pages Processed 501-1000 Pages Processed 1001-5000 Pages Processed More Than 5000 Pages Processed
Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed
All disclosed 5 35 1 407 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 3 22 2 311 1 458 1 400 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9 57 3 718 2 458 1 400 0 0
3.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation Required Assessment of Fees Legal Advice Sought Other Total
All disclosed 2 0 0 0 2
Disclosed in part 2 0 4 0 6
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0
Total 4 0 4 0 8

3.6 Closed requests

3.6.1 Number of requests closed within legislated timelines
  Requests closed within legislated timelines
Number of requests closed within legislated timelines 43
Percentage of requests closed within legislated timelines (%) 93.5

3.7 Deemed refusals

3.7.1 Reasons for not meeting legislated timelines
Number of Requests Closed Past the Legislated Timelines Principal Reason
Interference with Operations / Workload External Consultation Internal Consultation Other
3 2 0 1 0
3.7.2 Requests closed beyond legislated timelines (including any extension taken)
Number of Days Past Legislated Timelines Number of Requests Past Legislated Timeline Where No Extension Was Taken Number of Requests Past Legislated Timeline Where an Extension Was Taken Total
1 to 15 days 0 1 1
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 0 0
61 to 120 days 0 2 2
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0
More than 365 days 0 0 0
Total 0 3 3
3.8 Requests for translation
Translation Requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

Section 4: Extensions

4.1  Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of Requests Where an Extension Was Taken 9(1)(a)
Interference With Operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c)
Third-Party Notice
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 1 0 3 0
Disclosed in part 2 0 0 1
All exempted 1 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Total 4 0 3 1
4.2 Length of extensions
Length of Extensions 9(1)(a)
Interference With Operations
9(1)(b)
Consultation
9(1)(c)
Third-Party Notice
Section 69 Other
30 days or less 1 0 1 0
31 to 60 days 1 0 1 0
61 to 120 days 2 0 1 1
121 to 180 days 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0 0
365 days or more 0 0 0 0
Total 4 0 3 1

Part 5: Fees

Fee Type Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Requests Amount Requests Amount
Application 25 $125 13 $65
Other fees 0 $0 0 $0
Total 25 $125 13 $65

Section 6: Consultations Received From Other Institutions and Organizations

6.1  Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and organizations
Consultations Other Government of Canada Institutions Number of Pages to Review Other Organizations Number of Pages to Review
Received during reporting period 30 466 0 0
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 0 0 0 0
Total 30 466 0 0
Closed during the reporting period 30 466 0 0
Carried over to next reporting period 0 0 0 0
6.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions
Recommendation Number of Days Required to Complete Consultation Requests
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
Disclose entirely 18 4 0 0 0 0 0 22
Disclose in part 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 4
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 4
Total 24 4 2 0 0 0 0 30
6.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
Recommendation Number of Days Required to Complete Consultation Requests
1 to 15 Days 16 to 30 Days 31 to 60 Days 61 to 120 Days 121 to 180 Days 181 to 365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
Disclose entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Section 7: Completion Time of Consultations on Cabinet Confidences

7.1 Requests with Legal Services
Number of Days Fewer Than 100 Pages Processed 101-500 Pages Processed 501-1000 Pages Processed 1001-5000 Pages Processed More Than 5000 Pages Processed
Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 2 73 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 73 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of Days Fewer Than 100 Pages Processed 101-500 Pages Processed 501-1000 Pages Processed 1001-5000 Pages Processed More Than 5000 Pages Processed
Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed Number of Requests Pages Disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Section 8: Complaints and investigations

Section 32
Notice of intention to investigate
Subsection 30(5)
Ceased to investigate
Section 35
Formal representations
Section 37
Reports of finding received
Section 37
Reports of finding containing recommendations issued by the Information Commissioner
Section 37
Reports of finding containing orders issued by the Information Commissioner
2 0 2 2 0 0

Section 9: Court Action

9.1 Court actions on complaints received before June 21, 2019 and on-going
Section 41 (before June 21, 2019) Section 42 Section 44
0 0 0
9.2 Court actions on complaints received after June 21, 2019
Section 41 (after June 21, 2019)
Complainant (1) Institution (2) Third Party (3) Privacy Commissioner (4) Total
0 0 0 0 0

Section 10: Resources Related to the Access to Information Act

10.1  Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $55,540
Overtime $0
Goods and Services $739
  • Professional services contracts
$0  
  • Other
$739
Total $56,279
10.2  Human Resources
Resources Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees 0.64
Part-time and casual employees 0.06
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 0.70

Note: Enter values to two decimal places.

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