2018-2019 Annual Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act

Posted on : February 4, 2020

The Access to Information Act

The Access to Information Act (hereafter the “Act”) gives Canadian citizens, as well as individuals and corporations present in Canada, the right to access federal government records that are not of a personal nature. The public’s right of access to information is balanced against the legitimate need to protect sensitive information and to permit effective functioning of government, while promoting transparency and accountability in government institutions.

The Act complements but does not replace other procedures for obtaining government information. It is not intended to limit in any way access to government information normally available to the public upon request.

Section 72 of the Act requires the head of every government institution to submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act during the fiscal year. This report describes how the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) administered the Act throughout the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

Overview of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service

In 1984, the Government of Canada passed an Act of Parliament for the creation of a civilian security intelligence service. This legislation not only gave birth to CSIS, it also clarified the differences between security intelligence activities and law-enforcement work, bringing to an end the 120-year interlocking of Canada's security intelligence service with the federal police force. CSIS came into existence on July 16, 1984.

CSIS is at the forefront of Canada's national security establishment; and as such, its programs are proactive and pre-emptive. Its role is to investigate activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada, and to report on these to the Government of Canada.  CSIS may also take measures to reduce threats to the security of Canada in accordance with well-defined legal requirements and Ministerial direction.  Key threats include terrorism, espionage, foreign interference, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cyber-threats against critical information systems and infrastructure.

Through its Security Screening Program, CSIS provides advice that prevents non-Canadians who pose security concerns from entering Canada or receiving permanent resident status or citizenship. CSIS also helps prevent individuals of security concern from gaining access to Canadian information, assets, sites or events.

The Access to Information and Privacy Section

The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Section reported to the Assistant Director Intelligence via the Director General Litigation and Disclosure Branch throughout the 2018-2019 reporting period. The ATIP Section has an establishment of 16 fulltime employees to fulfill CSIS’ obligations under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.   When fully staffed, the ATIP Section is comprised of a chief, a deputy chief, three unit heads, eight analysts, a privacy advisor, an administrative officer and a researcher. 

During the 2018-2019 reporting period, all 16 positions were filled with the exception of the researcher position which remained vacant for most of the year. The privacy advisor position was staffed in June of 2018.  In addition, the Assistant Director Intelligence approved the transfer of three positions, from other sections of the branch, to create three new analyst positions in ATIP in order to address the increase in requests received throughout the year.  The three analyst positions will be created and staffed during the 2019-2020 fiscal year.

All employees in the ATIP Section are fully dedicated to the administration of the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act programs within CSIS, providing high-quality and timely responses to internal and external clients including other government departments.  The only exception is the privacy advisor who is not involved with the administration of the Access to Information Act.  CSIS Legal Services Branch, which is staffed by Department of Justice (DoJ) lawyers, provides legal advice as required.

The ATIP Section’s responsibilities regarding the Act include, but are not limited to:

Education and Training

During the 2018-2019 reporting period, members of the CSIS ATIP Section provided one presentation to the Executive as well as one presentation to a foreign agency. Additionally, the ATIP Section continues to conduct awareness sessions through ATIP e-learning narrated slides. The narrated slides form part of the new employee orientation program which is required for all new employees.  All other Service employees have the ability to reference the narrative slides at any given time through the e-learning application. The narrated slides provides participants with an overview of the Act and the Privacy Act, promotes a better comprehension of individual responsibilities and obligations relating to the Acts and offers an greater understanding of the internal ATIP process.  During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 268 Service employees viewed the ATIP narrative slides.

Monitoring the Progress of Requests

There is a robust case monitoring system in place using reports produced by the ATIP Case Management software. Requests are monitored by the chief ATIP and the unit heads on an ongoing basis.

Compliance and Deemed Refusal Rates

A total of 1146 requests were received during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Although faced with a significant increase in volume from the previous fiscal year, the Service closed 1181 requests and maintained a high on-time compliance rate of 98.1 % with a 1.9 % deemed refusal rate.  As of April 1st, 2019, ten requests received during the 2018-2019 fiscal year were in a deemed refusal situation.

Other Requests

The ATIP Section also acted as a resource for CSIS officials, and offered advice and guidance on the provisions of the legislation. The ATIP Section was consulted on issues relating to a wide range of matters including, but not limited to, information management, security of information, draft policies and memoranda of understanding, Parliamentary question period notes (QPNs) and releases of information made by CSIS outside the parameters of the Act.

Delegation of Authority

In accordance with section 73 of the Act, a delegation order signed by the Minister of Public Safety Canada (Annex 1) designates the persons holding the positions of Director of CSIS, the Assistant Director Intelligence, the Director General, Litigation and Disclosure Branch and the Chief ATIP to exercise and perform the duties of the Minister as Head of the institution. The order was issued on March 8, 2016, by the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the Honourable Ralph Goodale.

Requests under the Act

The following statistics for the 2018-2019 reporting period were validated by Treasury Board Secretariat of Canada (TBS) (Annex 2):

The requests covered mainly correspondence related to Briefing Notes, Intelligence Reports, Security Threat Assessments and security screening or immigration /citizenship application statuses.

The following table maps out the trend for the previous three years
Request Status

Fiscal Year

2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Received during the reporting period 491 851 1146
Closed during reporting period 457 791 1181
Outstanding from previous reporting period 52 86 143
Carried over to next reporting period 86 146 108
Treated informally 342 187 543

Sources of Requests

Of the 1146 new requests received during the 2018-2019 reporting period:

Disposition of Completed Requests

The disposition of the 1181 requests completed in 2018-2019 was as follows:

The table below shows the trend over the last three years

Request Disposition

Fiscal Year

2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
All disclosed 5 10 3
Disclosed in part 196 283 318
All exempted 17 151 363
All excluded 0 0 3
No records exist 77 125 295
Request transferred 6 14 3
Request abandoned 45 58 52
Neither confirmed nor deny 111 150 144

Completion Rate

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the CSIS ATIP Section completed 1181 requests under the Act within the following time frames:

Exemptions Invoked

The ATIP Section invoked a total of 2894 exemptions under the Act.  These break down as follows:

Three new exemptions (16.31, 16.6 and 23.1) were added to the Access to Information Act during this reporting period.  The Service did not rely on any of the new exemptions.

Exclusions Cited

The ATIP Section invoked exclusions under the Act a total of 80 times, as follows: 

Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline

20 requests were closed past the statutory deadline due to:

Number of Days Past Deadline

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, 20 requests went over the deadline. 

Format of Information Released

During the 2018-2019 reporting period:

Translation of Requests

No requests for translation were received during the 2018-2019 reporting period.

Extensions

Throughout the reporting period, a total of 214 extensions were pursuant to paragraph 9 (Extension of time limits) of the Act.  The extensions were taken for the following reasons:

Length of Extensions

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the extensions cited above were taken for the following lengths of time:

Fees

CSIS collected a total of $4,890 in application fees and waived a total of $995 in application fees.

Consultations Received from Other Government of Canada Institutions

During this reporting period:

The table below shows the three-year trend
Consultation Status Fiscal Year
2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Received during reporting period 366 364 324
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 37 86 156
Closed during the reporting period 317 293 286
Carried over the next reporting period 86 157 194

Completion Time for Consultations Received from Other Government of Canada Institutions

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the CSIS ATIP Section completed the consultations within the following time frames:

A significant backlog of consultations involving Library and Archives Canada (LAC) have continued to accumulate during this reporting period. The backlog is due to the immense number of records involving dated RCMP and CSIS security intelligence files as well as the complexity and sensitivity of the information contained therein.  The Service is working on identifying solutions to address this growing challenge.   

Consultations Received from Other Organizations

During this reporting period, one consultation was received from other organizations.  The consultation was completed within 181 to 365 days.

Completion Time of Consultations on Cabinet Confidences

During this reporting period, one consultation response was sent to the Department of Justice and a response was received within 16 to 30 days.  

Complaints and Investigations with the Office of the Information Commissioner during 2018-2019

The Service reviews the outcome of all investigations by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) and where appropriate, integrates lessons learned into corporate processes.

Monitoring Compliance

The unit heads are responsible for monitoring compliance and reporting issues to the Chief ATIP.   The monitoring is conducted continually via reports produced by the ATIP Case Management Software.  The ATIP Coordinator conveys compliance issues to the Director General, Litigation and Disclosure Branch when required.  

Costs Related to the Administration of the Access to Information Act

During the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the ATIP section incurred $638,821 in costs related to the Administration of the Act.

Expenditures

Amount

Salaries

$638,522

Overtime

$0

Goods and Services

$299

TOTAL:   $638,821

Significant Changes to Organization, Programs, Operations or Policy

None to report for the 2018-2019 reporting period. 

Overview of New or Revised Access to Information Act-related Policies and Procedures Implemented

None to report for the 2018-2019 reporting period.

Changes As a Result of Issues Raised by the Office of the Information Commissioner

None to report for the 2018-2019 reporting period.

Changes As a Result of Issues Raised by Other Agents of Parliament

None to report for the 2018-2019 reporting period.

Federal Court Case

There are three cases under review by the Federal Court.

2018-2019 Statistical report on the Access to Information Act

Name of the institution: Canadian Security Intelligence Service

Reporting period: 01 April 2018 to 31 March 2019

Part 1 – Requests under the Access to Information Act
1.1 Number of Requests
  Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 1146
Outstanding from the previous period 143
Total 1289
Closed during reporting period 1181
Carried over to the next period 108
1.2 Sources of Requests

Source
Number of Requests
Media 102
Academia 95
Business (Private Sector) 368
Organization 15
Public 513
Decline to Identify 53
Total 1146

 

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
63 69 80 207 124 0 0 543

 

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 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 2 1 0 0 0 3
Disclosed in part 38 80 70 90 28 11 1 318
All exempted 233 117 9 2 2 0 0 363
All excluded 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
No records exist 161 125 9 0 0 0 0 295
Request transferred 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Request abandoned 45 7 0 0 0 0 0 52
Neither confirmed nor denied 45 90 9 0 0 0 0 144
Total 527 420 99 93 30 11 1 1181

 

2.2 Exemptions

Section
Number of Requests
13(1)(a) 66
13(1)(b) 1
13(1)(c) 5
13(1)(d) 10
13(1)(e) 0
14 0
14(a) 1
14(b) 0
15(1) 44
15(1) - International Affairs 7
15(1) - Defence of Canada 4
15(1) - Subversive Activities 702
16(1)(a)(i) 2
16(1)(a)(ii) 4
16(1)(a)(iii) 639
16(1)(b) 40
16(1)(c) 658
16(1)(d) 2
16(2) 15
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 11
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
16.3 0
16.4(1)(a) 0
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 0
17 0
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) 206
20(1)(a) 0
20(1)(b) 1
20(1)(b).1 0
20(1)(c) 0
20(1)(d) 0
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 29
21(1)(b) 30
21(1)(c) 1
21(1)(d) 5
22 0
22.1(1) 0
23 17
24(1) 392
26 2

 

2.3 Exclusions

Section
Number of Requests
68(a) 5
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 0
68.2(b) 0
69(1) 4
69(1)(a) 9
69(1)(b) 1
69(1)(c) 0
69(1)(d) 1
69(1)(e) 2
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re (a) 18
69(1)(g) re (b) 5
69(1)(g) re (c) 5
69(1)(g) re (d) 6
69(1)(g) re (e) 21
69(1)(g) re (f) 3
69.1(1) 0

 

2.4 Format of information released

Disposition
Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 2 1 0
Disclosed in part 105 213 0
Total 107 214 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 22 23 3
Disclosed in part 27572 16281 318
All exempted 12493 0 363
All excluded 75 0 3
Request abandoned 6 0 52
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 144

 

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less than 100 pages processed 101 to 500 pages processed 501 to 1000 pages processed 1001 to 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 3 23 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 265 8749 44 4875 6 1975 3 682 0 0
All exempted 358 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request
abandoned
52 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 144 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 825 8772 48 4875 7 1975 3 682 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 177 1 19 0 197
All exempted 3 0 0 0 3
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0
Neither
confirmed nor
2 0 0 0 2
Total 182 1 19 0 202

 

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
20 9 7 4 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 2 8 10
16 to 30 days 2 1 3
31 to 60 days 0 2 2
61 to 120 days 0 3 3
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 2 2
More than 365 days   0 0 0
Total 4 16 20

 

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 0

 

Part 3 – Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of request 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 3 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 35 2 165 0
All exempted 3 0 3 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 3 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Total 44 2 168 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 14 0 2 0
31 to 60 days 16 0 22 0
61 to 120 days 11 2 132 0
121 to 180 days 2 0 11 0
181 to 365 days 1 0 1 0
More than 365 days 0 0 0 0
Total 44 2 168 0

 

Part 4 - Fees

Fee Type
Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of requests Amount
Application 978 $4,890 199 $995
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 978 $4,890 199 $995

 

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
Received during reporting period 324 8784 0 0
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 156 13182 1 124
Total 480 21966 1 124
Closed during the reporting period 286 20253 1 124
Pending at the end of the reporting period 194 1713 0 0

 

5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government 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 16 9 9 2 1 0 0 37
Disclose in part 73 46 45 28 15 8 26 241
Exempt entirely 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 5
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Other 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2
Total 91 60 54 30 17 8 26 286

 

5.3 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 1 0 1
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 1 0 1

 

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 1 2 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 1 2 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
25 83 62 170

 

Part 8: Court Action
Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
3 0 0 3

 

Part 9: Resources Related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $638,522
Overtime $0
Goods and Services $299
Professional services contracts 0$  
Other $299
Total $638,821

 

9.2 Human Resources
Resources Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees 7.50
Part-time and casual employees 0.00
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 7.50
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