2019-2020 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 eighteenth 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://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/transparency.html.

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.

2.3 Effects of COVID-19 Measures on ATIP activities

When the Ombudsman’s Office’s physical location was closed to comply with public health directives at the end of the fiscal year, ATIP employees had the means to monitor the email account remotely. Additionally, a mailroom employee was able to access the premises periodically in a safe manner, and to scan and forward any correspondence to the relevant employee. By these means, the Access to Information and Privacy section was ready to respond to any requests. 

However, there were no (0) requests between March 14 and March 31.

In addition to monitoring for any requests, the ATIP section made preparations to deal with any requests while complying with public health directives, through virtual discussions. Treasury Board Secretariat directions concerning the legal requirements applicable to the ATIP section’s activities were also reviewed and incorporated into the preparations. 

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 2019-20.

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, 2019 to March 31, 2020. The requests were both treated formally. One (1) request was abandoned and the other required a review of 573 pages. 

3.2 Disposition of Completed Requests

Two (2) requests were processed during this fiscal year. One (1) request was abandoned, and the other request was disclosed in part. The requestor was provided with a paper copy of the records released.

3.3 Exemptions to the Release of Information

Information was withheld on the basis of s.19 (1) (personal information) of the Access to Information Act.

Since only one (1) request was 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 one (1) request was responded to during the fiscal year was completed within the 30 day statutory limit; no extensions were required. The one (1) request that was abandoned was also dealt with within the 30 day statutory limit.

The number of requests is too low to draw statistically significant conclusions. However, the low volume of requests also allows every attempt to be made to meet the statutory deadlines. 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 six (6).

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.

No application fees were collected by the ATIP Unit during the fiscal year, as the one (1) request that was processed had been transferred from another institution.

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: Ombudsman for National Defence and Canadian Forces

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

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)

0

Organization

0

Public

2

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.

TBS/SCT 350-62

 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

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

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

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

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

3.2 Exemptions

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of Requests

Number of

Section 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)

1

22.1(1)

0

15(1) - I.A.*

0

16.2(1)

0

20(1)(a)

0

23

0

15(1) - Def.*

0

16.3

0

20(1)(b)

0

23.1

0

15(1) - S.A.*

0

16.31

0

20(1)(b.1)

0

24(1)

0

16(1)(a)(i)

0

16.4(1)(a)

0

20(1)(c)

0

26

0

16(1)(a)(ii)

0

16.4(1)(b)

0

20(1)(d)

0

 

16(1)(a)(iii)

0

16.5

0

 

16(1)(b)

0

16.6

0

16(1)(c)

0

17

0

16(1)(d)

0

 

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

3.3 Exclusions

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of Requests

Section

Number of Requests

68(a)

0

69(1)

0

69(1)(g) re (a)

0

68(b)

0

69(1)(a)

0

69(1)(g) re (b)

0

68(c)

0

69(1)(b)

0

69(1)(g) re (c)

0

68.1

0

69(1)(c)

0

69(1)(g) re (d)

0

68.2(a)

0

69(1)(d)

0

69(1)(g) re (e)

0

68.2(b)

0

69(1)(e)

0

69(1)(g) re (f)

0

 

69(1)(f)

0

69.1(1)

0

3.4 Format of information released

Paper

Electronic

Other

1

0

0

3.5 Complexity

3.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed

Number of Pages Processed

Number of Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

573

573

2

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 Disclose d

Number of Request s

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

0

0

0

0

1

573

0

0

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

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

1

0

0

0

1

573

0

0

0

0

3.5.3 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

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

2

Percentage of requests closed within legislated timelines (%)

100

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

0

0

0

0

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

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

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

0

0

0

0

Disclosed in part

0

0

0

0

All exempted

0

0

0

0

All excluded

0

0

0

0

No records exist

0

0

0

0

Request abandoned

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

0

0

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

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

 Section 5: Fees

Fee Type

Fee Collected

Fee Waived or Refunded

Requests

Amount

Requests

Amount

Application

0

$0

0

$0

Other fees

0

$0

0

$0

Total

0

$0

0

$0

 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

1

6

0

0

Outstanding from the previous reporting period

0

0

0

0

Total

1

6

0

0

Closed during the reporting

period

1

6

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

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

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

Disclose d

Number

of Request

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages

Disclose d

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

365

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Total

0

0

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

Disclose d

Number

of Request

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number of Requests

Pages Disclosed

Number

of Requests

Pages

Disclose d

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

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

0

0

0

0

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

$13,955

Overtime

$0

Goods and Services

$60

• Professional services contracts

$0

 

• Other

$60

Total

$14,015

10.2 Human Resources

Resources

Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information

Activities

Full-time employees

0.14

Part-time and casual employees

0.00

Regional staff

0.00

Consultants and agency personnel

0.00

Students

0.00

Total

0.14

Note: Enter values to two decimal places.

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