Annual Report 2008-2009 Access to Information Act from the Public Health Agency of Canada on the Access to Information Act for the period of April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

The Access to Information Act took effect on July 1, 1983.

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any person or corporation present in Canada, a right of an access to information contained in government records, subject to certain specific and limited exceptions.

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act requires that the head of every government institution prepare for submission to Parliament an annual report on the administration of the Act within the institution for each financial year.

This is the second Annual Report on the administration of the Access to Information Act for the Public Health Agency of Canada. It is intended to describe how the Agency administered its responsibilities under the Access to Information Act during fiscal year 2008-2009.


For further information or to make a request under the Privacy Act, please direct your inquiries to:

Access to Information and Privacy Office
Public Health Agency of Canada
130 Colonnade Road
A.L. 6503F
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K9

Tel: (613) 948-8187
Fax: (613) 957-9093

Background on the Agency

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), as part of the federal health portfolio, has a mission to promote and protect the health of Canadians through leadership, partnership, innovation and action in public health. To assist Canadians in moving towards its vision of healthy Canadians and communities in a healthier world, the Agency is mandated to work in collaboration with its partners, to mobilize pan-Canadian action in preventing disease and injury, and to promote and protect national and international public health.

PHAC’s main areas of focus are : prevention of disease and injury and the promotion of health; federal leadership and accountability in managing public health emergencies; sharing Canada’s expertise with the rest of the world, and applying international research and knowledge to Canada’s public health programs; strengthening intergovernmental collaboration on public health and facilitating national approaches to public health policy and planning; and advancing Aboriginal public health issues along with Health Canada.

The Agency achieves its objectives through leadership and partnership. It consults with provincial and territorial governments in the area of public health, fosters cooperation in that field with foreign governments and international organizations and collaborates with provincial and territorial governments to coordinate federal policies and programs. The Agency contributes to federal efforts to identify and reduce public health risk factors and to support national readiness for public health threats.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is made up of two branches including two laboratories, and has more than 2,400 staff contributing to the achievements of the Agency’s mission. In addition to the National Capital Region, PHAC has a presence in the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and Nunavut, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Alberta and Northwest Territories, and British Columbia and Yukon Regions.

The regional Offices develop, maintain and strengthen relationships with local/regional, provincial/territorial and federal governments as well as non-governmental organizations and academia, and support the public health responses to emergencies. Agency Regional Offices also connect and support stakeholders, including those outside the health sector, to take action on national priorities, gather public health information and build on resources at the regional, provincial and district levels.

The most senior departmental official at PHAC is the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO), who is supported by one (1) Senior Assistant Deputy Minister (SADM) and one (1) Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM). The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) reports to the Minister of Health.

The Minister of Health is the designated head of the Agency for the purposes of Section 73 of the Act. The Minister has delegated full authority for the administration of the Act to the ATIP Director/Coordinator.

The following list outlines the roles and responsibilities of the two (2) branches of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC): Planning and Public Health Integration Branch and; Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness Branch.

Planning and Public Health Integration Branch (PPHIB)

Senior ADM - Planning and Public Health Integration Branch is responsible for providing an integrated and coordinated strategic direction, overarching policy and program strategies as well as communication and human resources advice to identify and realize the Agency’s priorities and commitments. The Senior ADM is also the focal point within the Agency to support and improve the public health infrastructure that underlies and enables effective public health practice. In addition, the branch is responsible for implementing PHAC programs in the regions, as well as: providing national and international leadership in health promotion, chronic disease prevention and control; coordinate the surveillance of chronic diseases and their risk factors and early disease detection.

Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness Branch (IDEP)

ADM - Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness Branch is responsible for the prevention and control of infectious diseases and improvement in the health of those infected. IDEP leads the PHAC’s work around planning and coordinating pandemic influenza preparedness, and is responsible for the Canadian Pandemic influenza Plan for the Health Sector. The Plan maps out how the Canadian health sector will prepare for, and respond to, an influenza pandemic, and has been developed through a collaborative process between federal, provincial, territorial, local and regional governments and nongovernments stakeholders. PHAC staff is ready to respond to public health emergencies, 365 days a year. Examples of specific challenges are HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza preparedness, health care acquired infections such as C-difficile, food and water-borne diseases, sexually transmitted infections and those resulting from injection drug use, illnesses resulting from the interface between humans, animals and the environment including West Nile Virus Infection and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).

Access to Information Activities

The Director/Coordinator of Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) is accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures to ensure the Agency’s responsibilities under the Privacy Act are met and to enable appropriate processing and proper disclosure of information. The Director/ Coordinator is also responsible for related policies, systems and procedures emanating from the Act.

This is only the second year that the Access to Information Act is being administered by the Agency. It was previously administered by Health Canada. In the past year, there has been significant growth in the Agency, adding considerably to the challenges faced in understanding all facets of ATI. In addition, the listeriosis outbreak, the appointment of an Investigator and the analysis of the crisis by the Subcommittee on Food Safety along with the rise in ATI requests and the MAF all presented challenges to what is in essence, a very small ATIP Unit within the Agency.

The main activities of the ATIP Office include:

  • processing requests under the Access to Information Act;
  • developing and maintaining policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure that the Access to Information Act is respected by the Agency;
  • promoting Access to Information awareness to ensure departmental responsiveness to the obligations imposed on the Government;
  • monitoring departmental compliance with the Access to Information Act, regulations and relevant procedures and policies;
  • preparing annual reports to Parliament and other statutory reports, as well as other material that may be required by central agencies;
  • responding to consultations submitted by other federal institutions on PHAC documents under consideration for release; and
  • representing the Agency in dealings with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information and Privacy Commissioners and other government departments and agencies regarding the application of the Access to Information Act as they relate to PHAC.

Training, education and accomplishments for 2008-2009:

  • nine (9) general presentations on Access to Information were delivered to over 200 employees of PHAC;
  • nine (9) presentations on processing Access to Information requests were delivered to approximately 30 branch liaisons;
  • the PHAC ATIPO moved to 130 Colonnade Road;
  • initiated and implemented a record retention and disposal process for ATIPO streamlined procedures to better assist programs with their retrieval processes to ensure that established timelines are respected;
  • participated on various interdepartmental working groups in order to enhance and re-enforce Access to Information and Privacy within the Agency; and
  • initiated staffing actions in order to fill vacant positions in the ATIPO. The position of Senior ATIP Analyst was successfully filled and the other remaining positions will be finalized during the upcoming fiscal year.

Upcoming initiatives for the PHAC ATIPO:

  • create an ATIP Office procedures manual in order to standardize our processes;
  • organize a National Training Program for all staff;
  • review of best management practices for program delivery at regional and headquarters level;
  • develop a Communications' Strategy to increase awareness of all employees' responsibilities under the Access to Information Act;
  • introduce a Recruitment and Retention Program for employees which includes succession planning and classification review;
  • Initiate the acquisition of an electronic tracking and processing software that will improve the efficiency of the overall operation of the ATIPO; and
  • review the results of the Corporate Secretariat Capacity Assessment to analyze the current staffing compliment and levels.

II. Report on the administration of the Access to Information Act

Appendix B provides a statistical summary of the access to information requests received and/or finalized in 2008-2009.

Requests made under the Access to Information Act

Received during the reporting period

112

Outstanding from previous period

16

TOTAL

128

Sources of requests received

The majority of requests came from the media (47) and business (34) followed by those made by the public (25). The remaining requests came from organizations (3) and academia (3).

Disposition of requests completed

The department finalized the 110 requests cited in Appendix B in the following manner:

  • Twenty three (23) requests resulted in the release of all information sought.
  • Forty four (44) requests resulted in partial disclosures. Section 21 was the most frequently invoked section of the ATIA.
  • In eleven (11) requests, all information sought was withheld from disclosure.
  • In twenty three (23) requests, no relevant records existed under the control of the agency.
  • Nine (9) requests were abandoned. Requests are considered abandoned when the applicant formally withdraws the request or when he/she does not respond to correspondence sent by ATIPO.

Pages Examined: 44,360
Pages Released: 5,218

Note: The ATIPO is presently working on four (4) requests that have been carried over to the next fiscal year. These 4 requests account for an additional 215,414 pages.

Exemptions invoked

As noted in Appendix B, exemptions under sections 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 and 26 of the Act were invoked by PHAC. The Appendix is intended to show the number of requests where specific types of exemptions were invoked to refuse access. For example, if, in processing a request, five different exemptions were applied by PHAC, one exemption under each relevant section would be reported for a total of five. If the same exemption is claimed several times for the same request, it is reported only once in Appendix B.

Exclusions cited

The Act does not apply to published material pursuant to section 68 and to confidences of the Queen's Privy Council pursuant to section 69. Appendix B also shows the number of requests where exclusions were invoked. Similar to the above, if under one request, two different exclusions were claimed, one exclusion under each relevant section would be reported for a total of two. If the same exclusion is applied several times for the same request, it is reported only once in Appendix B.

Extension of time limits

Section 9 of the Act provides for the extension of the statutory time limits if consultations are necessary or the request is for a large volume of records and processing the request within the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the Agency. During the reporting period, 14 requests were extended for 30 days or less, and another 28 requests required extensions for more than 30 days.

Completion time

Of the 110 requests that were completed during the reporting period, 70 (63.6%) were completed in thirty days or less; 14 (12.7%) were completed in the 31 to 60-day period; 9 (8.2%) were completed in the 61 to 120-day period; and 17 (15.5%) requests were completed in time frames of more than 120 days.

Method of access

Access to the relevant documents was given, in whole or in part, for 67 requests. Copies were provided in all 67 cases.

Fees

The fees collected during the reporting period totalled $739.20. In accordance with government policy, it is the Agency’s practice to waive fees where the total owing per requests amounts to less than $25. The ATIP Director/Coordinator can also waive fees on a case by case basis. Therefore, PHAC waived fees in 2008-2009 in 65 cases for a total amount of $755.20.

Costs

Total salary costs associated with the Access to Information Act were $186,117.80 for 2008-2009. Other administrative costs amounted to $48,894.30 for a total of $235,012.10. The associated employee resources for 2008-2009 are estimated at 2.95 FTEs for administering the Access to Information Act. These numbers are for the ATIP PHAC Office and do not reflect the overall associated cost to the Agency.

Complaints and investigations

PHAC has received three (3) complaints for fiscal year 2008-2009, one (1) was abandoned and two (2) were carried over to the next fiscal year. In review of fiscal year 2007-2008 the three (3) outstanding complaints were resolved and no further actions are required by PHAC.

Resolved

3

Discontinued

1

Resolved - well founded

0

Not substantiated

0

TOTAL

4

Court applications and appeals

There were no court applications / appeals submitted to the Federal Court or Federal Court of Appeal.

III. Report on Access to Information Consultations and Informal Requests

Access to Information Consultations

There were sixty two (62) formal consultations from other institutions which were received and processed by PHAC during this fiscal year. In review of fiscal year 2007-2008, the nine (9) outstanding consultations were also completed during fiscal year 2008-2009.

Pages Examined: 9,461

Informal Access to Information Requests

There were twenty (20) informal requests processed during this reporting period.

Pages Examined: 1,529

APPENDIX A: Delegation Order – Access to Information Act

Pursuant to the powers of delegation conferred upon me by Section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the person exercising the functions and position of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Public Health Agency of Canada and the respective successor, including in the Coordinator's absence, a person of officer designated in writing to act in the place of the holder of such functions and position is hereby authorized to exercise these powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the head of the government institution under the Act, set out in the attached schedule.

The person exercising the functions and position of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Public Health Agency of Canada and the respective successor, including in the Coordinator's absence, a person or officer designated in writing to act in the place of the holder of such functions and position, is hereby authorized to exercise these powers, duties or functions of the Minister as the head of the government institution under the Act, set out in sections 6, 8, 9 and 10 of the Act.

Signature

Public Heath Agency Of Canada Schedule of Delegation Order

Delegation of Powers, Duties & Functions Pursuant to Section 73 of the Access to Information Act
Sections of Act Powers, Duties or Functions Responsible Position
6 Clarify a request ATIP Co-ordinator
7(a) Issue notice where access requested ATIP Co-ordinator
8(1) Transfer to another institution or to accept transfer from another institution ATIP Co-ordinator
9 Extension of time limits ATIP Co-ordinator
11(2),(3),(4),(5),(6) Additional fees and waiver of fees ATIP Co-ordinator
12(2),(3) Language of access ATIP Co-ordinator
13 Refuse to disclose information obtained in confidence ATIP Co-ordinator
14 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to federal-provincial affairs ATIP Co-ordinator
15 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to international affairs and/or defence ATIP Co-ordinator
16 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to law enforcement and investigations. ATIP Co-ordinator
17 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to the safety of individuals ATIP Co-ordinator
18 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to the economic interest of Canada ATIP Co-ordinator
19 Refuse to disclose personal information ATIP Co-ordinator
19(2)(a)(b)(c) Disclose personal information when authorized ATIP Co-ordinator
20 Refuse to disclose or disclose third party information ATIP Co-ordinator
21 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to advice and recommendations for the government institution ATIP Co-ordinator
22 Refuse to disclose information pertaining to testing procedures ATIP Co-ordinator
23 Refuse to disclose information subject to solicitor-client privilege ATIP Co-ordinator
24 Refuse to disclose information subject to statutory prohibitions ATIP Co-ordinator
25 Sever information ATIP Co-ordinator
26 Refuse to disclose information to be published ATIP Co-ordinator
27(1)(4) Carry-out third party notification ATIP Co-ordinator
28(1)(2)(4) Receive third party representation; make a decision as to whether to disclose the record or part thereof and notify the third party of the right to appeal to the Federal court ATIP Co-ordinator
29(1) Disclose information on the recommendation of the Information Commissioner ATIP Co-ordinator
33 Advise the Information Commissioner of third party involvement ATIP Co-ordinator
35(2) Make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation ATIP Co-ordinator
37(4) Give access to records ATIP Co-ordinator
43(1) Issue a notice to a third party of an application for Court review ATIP Co-ordinator
44(2) Issue a notice to an applicant that a third party has applied for Court review ATIP Co-ordinator
52(2)(3) Request special rules for hearings ATIP Co-ordinator
69 Refuse to disclose Cabinet confidences ATIP Co-ordinator
71(2) Refuse to disclose information from manuals ATIP Co-ordinator
72(1) Prepare an Annual Report to Parliament ATIP Co-ordinator
77 Carry out responsibilities conferred on the head of the institution by the regulations made under Section 77 which are not included above ATIP Co-ordinator

 

APPENDIX B: access to Information Act – Statistical Report

Report on the Access to Information Act
PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA Reporting Period
4/1/2008 to 3/31/2009
Source Media
47
Academia
3
Business
34
Organization
3
Public
25

I. Requests under the Access to Information Act
Received during reporting period 112
Outstanding from previous period 16
Total 128
Completed during reporting period 110
Carried forward 18

II. Disposition of requests completed
1. All disclosed 23
2. Disclosed in part 44
3. Nothing disclosed (excluded) 3
4. Nothing disclosed (exempt) 8
5. Transferred 0
6. Unable to process 23
7. Abandoned by applicant 9
8. Treated informally 0
Total 110

III. Exemptions invoked
S.
Art 13(1)(a)
6
(b) 1
(c) 1
(d) 0
S.
Art 14
16
S.
Art 15(1) International rel.
0
Defence 0
Subversive Activities 0
S.
Art 16(1)(a)
2
(b) 1
(c) 1
(d) 0
S.
Art 16(2)
1
S.
Art 16(3)
0
S.
Art 17
0
S.
Art 18(a)
0
S.
Art 18(b)
0
(c) 0
(d) 1
S.
Art 19(1)
33
S.
Art 20(1)(a)
2
(b) 11
(c) 9
(d) 1
S.
Art 21(1)(a)
25
(b) 17
(c) 10
(d) 4
S.
Art 22
4
S.
Art 23
1
S.
Art 24
0
S.
Art 26
5



IV. Exclusions cited
S.
Art 68(a)
5
(b) 0
(c) 0
S.
Art 69(a)
5
(b) 0
S.
Art 69(1)(c)
1
(d) 1
(e) 2
(f) 1
(g) 2

V. Completion time
30 days or under 70
31 to 60 days 14
61 to 120 days 9
121 days or over 17

VI. Extensions
  30 days or under 31 days or over
Searching 10 6
Consultation 3 15
Third party 1 7
Total 14 28

VII. Translations
Translations requested 0
Translations
prepared
English to French 0
French to English 0



VIII. Method of access
Copies given 66
Examination 0
Copies and examination 1

IX. Fees
Net fees collected
Application fees $510.00 Preparation $0.00
Reproduction $229.20 Computer Processing $0.00
Searching $0.00 Total $739.20
Fees waived No. of times $
$25.00 or under 56 $317.00
Over $25.00  9 $438.20

X. Costs
Financial (all reasons)                    ($000)
Salary 186,117.8
Administration (O and M) 48,894.3
Total 235,012.1
 
Person year utilization (all reasons)
Person year (decimal format) 2.95

APPENDIX C: Supplemental Reporting Requirements - Access to Information Act

Part III - Exemptions invoked

Section 13
Subsection 13(e)        - 0

Section 14
Subsections 14(a)      - 9
14(b)                           - 7

Part IV - Exclusions cited

Subsection 69.1 (1)    - 12

 

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