2018-2019 Annual Report to Parliament : The Administration of the Access to Information Act

1 Introduction

The purpose of the Access to information Act is to extend the present laws of Canada to provide a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution, according to the principles 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.

1.1 Background

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act requires that the head of every government institution prepare and submit to Parliament an annual report on the administration of the Act within the institution. This is the seventeenth annual report to Parliament on performance with respect to administration of the Act by the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (the Office or the Office of the Ombudsman).

The Office of the Ombudsman is committed to openness and transparency about its administration and functioning. The Office endeavours to ensure that information about its work is widely disseminated and easily available. For example, the Ombudsman’s annual reports, special reports and press releases are posted on the Office’s website as soon as they are released. The website also contains case studies and statistics on the Office’s caseload, and educational material on subjects of interest to our constituents.

Critical to the resolution of complaint files and investigations is the confidentiality of the information provided by the constituents who come forward. Therefore, before any case study or report is released, identifying information is removed to ensure the protection of personal information and confidentiality of our communications. As well, summaries of completed requests for access to information are available on our website at https://www.canada.ca/en/ombudsman-national-defence-forces/information-about-office/access-information-privacy/completed-requests.html

As the Ombudsman’s Office is part of the Defence portfolio, disclosure of the Ombudsman’s travel and hospitality expenses, contracts over $10,000 and position reclassifications are reported on the National Defence website at https://open.canada.ca/en/proactive-disclosure.

The Office of the Ombudsman proactively posts to its website correspondence between the Ombudsman and senior officials on matters of interest to our constituency. This initiative is in keeping with the Ombudsman’s goal of promoting transparency and with the Open Government initiative. In accordance with the Directive on Open Government, correspondence is reviewed prior to release to ensure it does not contain any information raising concerns about privacy, confidentiality or security. The Access to Information and Privacy Unit conducts the review of correspondence prior to release. Correspondence can be found on the Ombudsman website in the Letters and Statements section at https://www.canada.ca/en/ombudsman-national-defence-forces/reports-news-statistics/ombudsman-letters.html

1.2 Mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

The first Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces was appointed in June 1998 by Governor in Council (Federal Cabinet). The creation of an Ombudsman institution was part of a wide range of initiatives brought forth by the Government of Canada to enhance the overall fairness and effectiveness of the military justice system, enhance the transparency of internal review mechanisms, streamline the Canadian Armed Forces grievance process, and promote greater openness, accountability and transparency within the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

The duties and functions of the Ombudsman are set out in the Ministerial Directives Respecting the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/policies-standards/defence-administrative-orders-directives/5000-series/5047/5047-1-office-of-the-ombudsman.html

The Ministerial Directives confirm that the Ombudsman and the Office operate outside the military chain of command as well as outside the civilian management of the Department of National Defence. The Ombudsman reports directly to, and is accountable only to, the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for the management and direction of the Canadian Armed Forces and of all matters relating to National Defence. However, the Ombudsman operates at arm’s length from the

Minister, preserving the Ombudsman’s independence from the executive function.

The Ministerial Directives governing the Office provide that the Ombudsman is to act, on the Minister’s behalf, as a neutral and objective sounding board, mediator, investigator and reporter on matters related to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. The Ombudsman also acts as a direct source of information, referral and education to assist individuals in accessing existing internal channels of assistance and redress. The overall goal of the Office of the Ombudsman is to contribute to substantial and long-lasting improvements to the welfare of the Defence community.

Under the Ministerial Directives, the Ombudsman is required to issue an annual report to the Minister of National Defence on the operations of the office. The Ministerial Directives further provide that the Ombudsman may publish reports concerning any investigation if the Ombudsman considers that it is in the public interest to do so.

1.3 Structure of the Access to Information and Privacy Unit

The ATIP unit for the Office of the Ombudsman is part of the Legal Services Directorate and is managed by the institution’s Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. Pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the Minister of National Defence designated the Office’s ATIP Coordinator to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Act as it concerns the Office of the Ombudsman. This arrangement reflects the Office’s independent, arm’s length relationship with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces. A copy of the delegation order appears in Appendix A to this report.

A major challenge to the application of the ATIP legislation lies in the Ministerial Directives that establish the Office of the Ombudsman. One of the main functions of the Office is to conduct confidential investigations, yet the records are not fully protected by having either the status of an investigative body under the regulation or having a specific provision protecting the Office’s investigative records. A further challenge is caused by the fact that some of the information that is required by this Office to conduct its investigations is held by other parts of the Defence community that are designated as investigative bodies or who claim exemptions under the ATIP legislation. Because of the interplay of the Office’s mandate and the ATIP legislation, legal guidance is often called upon to find the balance between the application of the mandate and compliance with the ATIP legislation, whether it be protection of personal information or access to information.

The ATIP Unit is responsible for the following activities:

The ATIP unit has one ATIP Officer who administers the processing of ATIP files, among other duties. The ATIP Unit also engages a consultant, on an as-needed basis, to assist with processing of requests.

2 Key Activities and Accomplishments

2.1 Education and Training Activities

Those responsible for the delivery of the Ombudsman’s ATIP services regularly attend learning activities presented by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Information and Privacy Policy Division and other learning institutions.

2.2 Institutional Access to Information Policies and Procedures

The Office of the Ombudsman has not implemented any new and/or revised institution-specific policy, guideline or procedure during this reporting period.

3 Statistical Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act

This section provides information about the processing of requests under the Access to Information Act. Appendix B provides a statistical summary of the access to information requests received and/or finalized in 2018-2019.

There is not a sufficient volume of requests to be able to report on any statistically significant trends, however, over the past five years, the Office has received between one (1) and six (6) requests per year.

3.1 Formal requests under the Access to Information Act

The Office of the Ombudsman received two (2) requests for information under the Access to Information Act during the period from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019. The requests were both treated formally. The two (2) requests required a review of 3298 pages in total.

3.2 Disposition of Completed Requests

Two (2) requests were processed during this fiscal year with partial disclosure. Both requestors were provided with electronic copies.

3.3 Exemptions to the Release of Information

In both cases information was withheld on the basis of s.19 (1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act. Also in 1 (one) case information was withheld on the basis of section 23 (solicitor-client privilege) of the Act.

Since only two (2) requests were processed during the fiscal year, and the overall volume of requests is low, it is not possible to report on any significant trends on the application of exemptions and exclusions, or on completion times or extensions.

Over the past 5 years, section 19 (1) of the Act has been invoked to prevent the disclosure of personal information when responding to requests under the Act, perhaps due to the nature of the information involved (complaints to or other activities of the Ombudsman). Other exemptions invoked over the past 5 years have included section 21 (1) (a) (b) and (c) (operations of government) and section 23 (solicitor-client privilege) of the Act.

3.4 Completion Time

The two (2) requests responded to during the fiscal year were both completed within the 30 day statutory limit; no extensions were required.

The number of requests is too low to draw statistically significant conclusions. Over the past five years, extensions have only been taken to allow for consultations with other government departments.

3.5 Extension of the Time Limit

No extensions were sought under the Access to Information Act.

3.6 Consultations

The Office received one (1) consultation from another government institution concerning the Access to Information Act. The consultation was completed in less than 15 days. The total number of pages reviewed was 41.

3.7 Informal Access Requests

Requests for information about the Office’s policies and procedures and for general information are responded to on an informal basis where possible. During the current reporting period the ATIP Unit did not process any informal requests.

3.8 Fees and Costs

There are no costs associated with ATIP specific software as the volume of requests does not warrant the expenditure.

Ten (10) dollars in application fees were collected by the ATIP Unit during the fiscal year.

3.9 Complaints and Audits

During this reporting period, the Office of the Ombudsman received no complaints under the Access to Information Act, and concluded no audits or investigations.

4 Monitoring – Access to Information Requests

The ATIP Unit uses a tracking spreadsheet to monitor processing times for access to information requests. The ATIP Coordinator reports to the senior management committee as necessary for their situational awareness. The senior management committee includes the Ombudsman, Directors General and Directors.

Annex 1: Delegation Order

Copy of Delegation Order

Sep 05 2002
 

 Mr. André Marin
Department of National Defence
and Canadian Forces Ombudsman
12th Floor, 100 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1 
 

Dear Mr. Marin:  

I would like to acknowledge and thank you for your letter, received on August 1, 2002, concerning the Designation Order for the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.  

I concur with your request and have signed the enclosed English and French copies of the Designation Order.

Once again, thank you for bringing this information to my attention.  

Yours sincerely,

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.

Enclosures: 2 

Designation Order

Access to Information and Privacy Act

The Minister of National Defence, persuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the person holding the position of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister as the head of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.  

In the absence of the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, the Minister, pursuant to section 73 of the Acts, hereby designates the person acting as Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.
Minister of National Defence

Annex 2: Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Name of institution: DND/CF OMBUDSMAN

Reporting period : 2018-04-01 to 2019-03-31

PART 1 – Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of Requests
Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 2
Outstanding from previous reporting period 0
Total 2
Closed during reporting period 2
Carried over to next reporting period 0
1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number of Requests

Media

0
Academia 0
Business (Private Sector) 1
Organization 0
Public 1
Decline to Identify 0
Total 2
 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 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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

Part 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time
Disposition of Requests  Completion Time
1 to15 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

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part  0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request transferred 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
2.2 Exemptions
Section Number of Requests Section Number of Requests Section Number of Requests Section Number of Requests
13(1)(a) 0 16(2) 0 18(a) 0 20.1 0
13(1)(b) 0 16(2)(a) 0 18(b) 0 20.2 0
13(1)(c) 0 16(2)(b) 0 18(c) 0 20.4 0
13(1)(d) 0 16(2)(c) 0 18(d) 0 21(1)(a) 0
13(1)(e) 0 16(3) 0 18.1(1)(a) 0 21(1)(b) 0
14 0 16.1(1)(a) 0 18.1(1)(b) 0 21(1)(c) 0
14(a) 0 16.1(1)(b) 0 18.1(1)(c) 0 21(1)(d) 0
14(b) 0 16.1(1)(c) 0 18.1(1)(d) 0 22 0
15(1) 0 16.1(1)(d) 0 19(1) 2 22.1(1) 0
15(1) - I.A.* 0 16.2(1) 0 20(1)(a) 0 23 1
15(1) - Def.* 0 16.3 0 20(1)(b) 0 24(1) 0
15(1) - S.A.* 0 16.4(1)(a) 0 20(1)(b.1) 0 26 0
16(1)(a)(i) 0 16.4(1)(b) 0 20(1)(c) 0
16(1)(a)(ii) 0 16.5 0 20(1)(d) 0
16(1)(a)(iii) 0 17 0
16(1)(b) 0
16(1)(c) 0
16(1)(d) 0

 *I.A.: International Affairs Def.: Defence of Canada S.A.: Subversive Activities

2.3 Exclusions
Section Number of requests
68(a) 0
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
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
2.4 Format of information released
Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 0 2 0
Total 0 2 0
2.5 Complexity
2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests
All disclosed 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 3298 3298 2
All exempted 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0
2.5.2 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 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 1 6 0 0 0 0 1 3292 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 6 0 0 0 0 1 3292 0 0
2.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Other Total
All disclosed 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 0 0 0 0 0
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 0 0 0 0 0
2.6 Deemed refusals
2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline  Principal Reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
0 0 0 0 0
2.6.2 Number of days past deadline
Number of days past deadline Number of requests past deadline where no extension was taken Number of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 0 0 0
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 0 0
61 to 120 days 0 0 0
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0
More than 365 days 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0
2.7 Requests for translation
Translation Requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0

Part 3 - Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of requests where an extension was taken  9(1)(a) Interference with operation  9(1)(b) Consultation  9(1)(c) Third party notice 
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 0 0 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No record exists 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0
3.2 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 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 days 0 0 0 0
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 0 0 0 0

Part 4 - Fees

Fee Type Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of Requests Amount
Application 2 $10 0 $0
Search 0 $0 0 $0
Production 0

$0

0 $0
Programming 0

$0

0 $0
Preparation 0

$0

0 $0
Alternative format 0

$0

0 $0
Reproduction 0

$0

0 $0
Total 2 $10 0 $0

Part 5 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations
Consultations Other Government of Canada institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Recieved during reporting period 1 41 0 0
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 0 0 0 0
Total 1 41 0 0
Closed during the reporting period 1 41 0 0
Pending at the end of the reporting period 0 0 0 0
5.2 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

1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
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 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations recieved 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

Part 6 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

6.1 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 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
6.2 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

Part 7 - Complaints and Investigations

Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
0 0 0 0

Part 8 - Court Action

Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 0 0

Part 9 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
Expenditures  Amount
Salaries $27,395
Overtime $0
Goods and Services $153
  • Professional services contracts
$0
  • Other
$153
Total $27,548
9.2 Human Resources
Resources Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees 0.18
Part-time and casual employees 0.00
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 0.18

 

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