Access to information and privacy statistical report, 2015-16

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Report is an annual report of statistical information about the Government of Canada’s access to information and privacy programs.

The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act both came in to effect on .

Section 70(1)(c.1) of the Access to Information Act assigns responsibility to the President of the Treasury Board, as the designated Minister, to collect statistics on an annual basis. These statistics are used to assess the performance of the Government of Canada’s access to information and privacy programs according to the provisions of the Acts.

The tables and figures that follow present data from the period of , to , provided by government institutions subject to the Acts. Cumulative data from 1983 to is also presented.

The complete statistical dataset will be made available in open format on the Government of Canada’s Open Data Portal.

Access to Information Act statistics, 2015-16

Requests under the Access to Information Act

75,387 requests were received in 2015-16, an increase of 10.5 percent from 2014-15.

Of 87,115 requests that were received in 2015-16 or were outstanding from the previous period, 83.3 percent were closed. This is relatively consistent with 2014-15: out of 78,804 requests that were received in 2014-15 or were outstanding from the previous period, 85.1 percent were closed.

Ten government institutions received 83.4 percent of all new requests in 2015-16.

Requests received and closed under the Access to Information Act
Requests under the Access to Information Act Number of requests

Table 1 Notes

Table 1 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the 2014-15 statistical data and the 2015-16 statistical data regarding the number of requests or consultations left outstanding at the end of the 2014-15 reporting period.

Return to table 1 note 1 referrer

Outstanding from 2014-15 reporting periodtable 1 note 1 11,728
Received during 2015-16 reporting period 75,387
Total 87,115
Closed during 2015-16 period 72,581
Carried over to 2016-17 reporting period 14,534
Figure 01: Requests received and closed under the Access to Information Act: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Requests received and closed under the Access to Information Act: 2015-16 and 2014-15. Text version below:
Figure 01 - Text version

This table compares the number of requests under the Access to Information Act received, closed and carried forward within the 2015-16 reporting period with those from 2014-15.

Requests under the Access to Information Act 2015-16 2014-15
Outstanding from previous reporting period 11,728 10,611
Received during reporting period 75,387 68,193
Closed during reporting period 72,581 67,032
Carried over to next reporting period 14,534 11,772
Access to Information Act requests by top ten institutions
Rank Name of institution Received requests as percentage Number of received requests Number of pages processed table 3 note 1

Table 3 Notes

Table 3 Note 1

The number of pages processed per government institution represents the total processed pages for closed requests. This does not include the number of pages processed for requests that were carried over into the next reporting period.

Return to table 3 note 1 referrer

1 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 55.3% 41,660 2,145,173
2 Canada Border Services Agency 7.3% 5,532 379,996
3 Royal Canadian Mounted Police 5.1% 3,854 654,005
4 Canada Revenue Agency 4.2% 3,139 1,233,194
5 National Defence 2.9% 2,189 280,017
6 Employment and Social Development Canada 2.1% 1,572 257,249
7 Environment and Climate Change Canada 2.1% 1,558 109,475
8 Health Canada 1.6% 1,222 107,396
9 Global Affairs Canada 1.4% 1,086 148,527
10 Transport Canada 1.4% 1,032 107,169
Other Institutions 16.6% 12,543 3,603,528
Total 100.0% 75,387 9,025,729
Sources of received Access to Information Act requests
Source Number of requests Percentage of requests

Table 4 Notes

Table 4 Note 1

The category “organization” includes, but is not limited to, associations, unions, not-for-profit and voluntary organizations, offices of Members of Parliament, political parties and non-government organizations. It also includes requesters that selected “organization” when submitting their request.

Return to table 4 note 1 referrer

Table 4 Note 2

The category “decline to identify” includes requesters that selected “decline to identify” when submitting their request. It also includes instances where the requester did not select any of the available categories when submitting a hard-copy application.

Return to table 4 note 2 referrer

Business (private sector) 30,780 40.8%
Public 26,638 35.3%
Media 6,862 9.1%
Organizationtable 1 note 1 3,602 4.8%
Academia 2,885 3.8%
Decline to identifytable 1 note 2 4,620 6.1%
Total 75,387 100.0%
Figure 02: Sources of received Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Sources of received Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15. Text version below:
Figure 02 - Text version

This table compares requester types (the sources of requests) for the 2015-16 reporting period with those from 2014-15.

Source 2015-16 2014-15
Business 30,780 25,170
Public 26,638 28,082
Media 6,862 7,873
Organization 3,602 3,297
Academia 2,885 2,008
Decline to identify 4,620 1,763

Timeliness

Of 72,581 requests closed in 2015-16, 46,543, or 64.1 percent, were closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days.

85.9 percent of requests were closed within established timelines (that is, closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days or within an extension period provided for in the Act). The comparable figure in 2014-15 was 87.5 percent.

Disposition and time required to close Access to Information Act requests
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure timetable 5 note 1
0 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More Than 365 days Total

Table 5 Notes

Table 5 Note 1

The number of days to close requests or consultations refers to calendar days.

Return to table 5 note 1 referrer

Table 5 Note 2

An abandoned request is a request that has been formally withdrawn by the requester, or the requester did not respond to a notice indicating that the request will be closed if they do not respond within a specified time period.

Return to table 5 note 2 referrer

Table 5 Note 3

The category “neither confirmed nor denied” consists of requests for which subsection 10(2) of the Access to Information Act was invoked: “The head of a government institution may but is not required to indicate under subsection [10](1) whether a record exists.”

Return to table 5 note 3 referrer

All disclosed 12,350 4,097 753 160 146 50 17,556
Disclosed in part 22,670 10,260 4,153 1,536 1,388 1,145 41,152
All exempted 455 135 141 28 30 9 798
All excluded 192 44 54 13 9 3 315
No records exist 4,854 650 169 63 45 42 5,823
Request transferred 471 1 1 0 0 0 473
Request abandonedtable 5 note 2 5,075 238 166 79 119 276 5,953
Neither confirmed nor deniedtable 5 note 3 476 17 9 4 4 1 511
Total number of requests 46,543 15,442 5,446 1,883 1,741 1,526 72,581
Total as percentage 64.1% 21.3% 7.5% 2.6% 2.4% 2.1% 100.0%
Time required to close Access to Information Act requests according to time period: 2015-16 and 2014-15table 1 note 1
Closure time Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15

Table 6 Notes

Table 6 Note 1

The Access to Information Act provides for the extension of the time limit to respond to a request beyond 30 days if: (1) it involves a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records AND meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution; (2) external consultations are necessary and cannot reasonably be expected to be closed within the original time limit; or (3) notice to a third party is required to advise the third party that their information is the subject of a request. The data in this table reflects all closed requests, including requests for which extensions were taken.

Return to table 6 note 1 referrer

0 to 30 days 64.1% 65.1% 46,543 43,641
31 to 60 days 21.3% 19.6% 15,442 13,133
61 to 120 days 7.5% 8.0% 5,446 5,345
121 to 180 days 2.6% 2.6% 1,883 1,758
181 to 365 days 2.4% 2.7% 1,741 1,820
More than 365 days 2.1% 2.0% 1,526 1,335
Total 100.0% 100.0% 72,581 67,032
Figure 03: Time required to close Access to Information Act requests, 2011-12 to 2015-16 Footnote 1
Time required to close Access to Information Act requests, 2011-12 to 2015-16. Text version below:
Figure 03 - Text version

This table compares the time required to close requests, listed according to time periods, for the last five years, from 2011 to 2016. Data is shown in percentages.

Closure time 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
0 to 30 days 55.3% 64.8% 61.0% 65.1% 64.1%
31 to 60 days 21.3% 17.3% 18.0% 19.6% 21.3%
61 to 120 days 12.9% 9.8% 10.4% 8.0% 7.5%
121 days or more 10.5% 8.1% 10.7% 7.3% 7.1%
Status of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
Closed within the statutory deadline including extensions 85.9% 87.5% 62,366 58,627
Closed in deemed refusal 14.1% 12.5% 10,215 8,405
Total 100.0% 100.0% 72,581 67,032
Figure 04: Access to Information Act requests closed within established timelines, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Access to Information Act requests closed within established timelines, 2011-12 to 2015-16. Text version below:
Figure 04 - Text version

This table compares the status of requests closed in the last five years, from 2011 to 2016. Data is shown in percentages.

Status of closed request 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Closed Within the Statutory Deadline Including Extensions 85.1% 89.3% 86.0% 87.5% 85.9%
Deemed Refusals 14.9% 10.7% 14.0% 12.5% 14.1%
Reasons for deemed refusalstable 7 note 1 regarding closed Access to Information Act requests
Total number of requests closed past the statutory deadline or not within the timeline covered by an extension (deemed refusal) Principal reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other table 7 note 2

Table 7 Notes

Table 7 Note 1

The information in this table reflects requests that were neither closed in the initial 30 days nor closed within the timeline covered by an extension. These requests are referred to as “deemed refusals.”

Return to table 7 note 1 referrer

Table 7 Note 2

Other reasons include the unavailability of key officials, difficulties in obtaining relevant records, labour disputes, lengthy power outages, etc.

Return to table 7 note 2 referrer

10,215 8,319 659 385 852
Number of days past deadline for Access to Information Act requests closed in deemed refusal
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 deemed refusals Total as percentage
1 to 30 days 4,406 727 5,133 50.2%
31 to 60 days 802 391 1,193 11.7%
61 to 120 days 594 486 1,080 10.6%
121 to 180 days 400 315 715 7.0%
181 to 365 days 438 601 1,039 10.2%
More than 365 days 430 625 1,055 10.3%
Total 7,070 3,145 10,215 100.0%

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 80.9 percent of closed requests. This is a 2.2 percent relative increase, as compared with the previous period.

Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
All disclosed 24.2% 27.2% 17,556 18,253
Disclosed in part 56.7% 51.5% 41,152 34,545
All exempted 1.1% 1.1% 798 727
All excluded 0.4% 0.6% 315 377
No records exist 8.0% 9.7% 5,823 6,493
Request transferred 0.7% 0.9% 473 591
Request abandoned 8.2% 8.7% 5,953 5,851
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.7% 0.3% 511 195
Total 100.00% 100.00% 72,581 67,032
Figure 05: Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15. Text version below:
Figure 05 - Text version

This table compares the disposition of closed requests for the 2015-16 reporting period with the disposition of those from 2014-15.

Disposition of closed requests 2015-16 2014-15
All disclosed 17,556 18,253
Disclosed in part 41,152 34,545
All exempted 798 727
All excluded 315 377
No records exist 5,823 6,493
Request transferred 473 591
Request abandoned 5,953 5,851
Neither confirmed nor denied 511 195

Complexity

In 2015-16, government institutions processed about 9 million pages for closed requests; 73.4 percent of pages were disclosed either in full or in part.

Government institutions undertook outside consultations in 9.2 percent of all closed requests.

Relevant pages processed and disclosed regarding Closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests table 8 note 1
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15

Table 8 Notes

Table 8 Note 1

The total number of requests for each reporting period reflects the total number of requests closed in each period with the exception of those categorized as “no records exist,” “request transferred” or “neither confirmed nor denied.”

Return to table 8 note 1 referrer

Table 8 Note 2

Some records may have been disclosed to the requester prior to the request’s abandonment.

Return to table 8 note 2 referrer

All disclosed 1,054,276 982,150 991,379 846,581 17,556 18,253
Disclosed in part 7,305,111 7,136,655 5,574,908 4,669,409 41,152 34,545
All exempted 165,984 1,363,960 0 0 798 727
All excluded 22,556 14,463 0 0 315 377
Request abandonedtable 8 note 2 477,802 422,121 56,714 57,139 5,953 5,851
Total 9,025,729 9,919,349 6,623,001 5,573,129 65,774 59,753
Other considerations regarding complexity of closed Access to Information Act requests
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Othertable 9 note 1 Total

Table 9 Notes

Table 9 Note 1

Other considerations include requests for the contents of a database, requests to process audio or video recordings, high-profile subject matter, instances in which records are located in another region or country, instances in which the records are in a language other than English or French, etc.

Return to table 9 note 1 referrer

All disclosed 719 84 15 658 1,476
Disclosed in part 5,576 264 226 2,838 8,904
All exempted 106 25 12 244 387
All excluded 79 0 16 29 124
Request abandoned 218 177 8 462 865
Neither confirmed nor denied 3 4 0 19 26
Total 6,701 554 277 4,250 11,782

Extensions

45.3 percent of all extensions taken for closed requests cited paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Access to Information Act as a reason for the extension, relating to interference with government operations. Furthermore, 30.0 percent of all extensions taken for closed requests were for 30 days or less, and 90.8 percent were for 120 days or less.

Reasons for and length of extensions regarding closed Access to Information Act requests
Length of extensionstable 10 note 1 9(1)(a) - Interference with operations 9(1)(b) - Consultation 9(1)(c) - Third-party notice Total
Section 69table 10 note 2 Othertable 10 note 3

Table 10 Notes

Table 10 Note 1

The timelines associated with extensions begin at the end of the initial 30-day response period.

Return to table 10 note 1 referrer

Table 10 Note 2

Section 69 of the Access to Information Act states that the Act does not apply to confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.

Return to table 10 note 2 referrer

Table 10 Note 3

The “other” category includes consultations with one or more of the following: other federal government institutions, provincial and municipal governments, foreign states, international organizations of states, Aboriginal governments, non-governmental organizations or individuals.

Return to table 10 note 3 referrer

30 days or less 2,415 54 1,087 198 3,754
31 to 60 days 1,677 106 1,349 1,117 4,249
61 to 120 days 1,118 516 1,447 268 3,349
121 to 180 days 245 97 303 64 709
181 to 365 days 158 12 139 48 357
365 days or more 51 0 26 11 88
Total 5,664 785 4,351 1,706 12,506

Exemptions Footnote 2

The tables that follow indicate exemptions applied under the Access to Information Act in requests closed during the reporting period.

Information obtained in confidence
Provision Number of requests
13(1)(a) 2,776
13(1)(b) 240
13(1)(c) 753
13(1)(d) 359
13(1)(e) 12
Federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
14 435
14(a) 383
14(b) 150
International affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
15(1) 511
15(1) International Affairs 2,115
15(1) Defence 1,436
15(1) Subversive activities 8,375
Law enforcement and investigations
Provision Number of requests
16(1)(a)(i) 1,311
16(1)(a)(ii) 776
16(1)(a)(iii) 212
16(1)(b) 693
16(1)(c) 10,390
16(1)(d) 101
16(2) 1,900
16(2)(a) 35
16(2)(b) 42
16(2)(c) 1,761
16(3) 5
16.1(1)(a) 19
16.1(1)(b) 19
16.1(1)(c) 93
16.1(1)(d) 96
16.2(1) 7
16.3 3
16.4(1)(a) 3
16.4(1)(b) 1
16.5 13
Safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
17 266
Economic interests of Canada
Provision Number of requests
18(a) 255
18(b) 447
18(c) 13
18(d) 255
18.1(1)(a) 78
18.1(1)(b) 23
18.1(1)(c) 8
18.1(1)(d) 24
Personal information
Provision Number of requests
19(1) 28,535
Third-party information
Provision Number of requests
20(1)(a) 147
20(1)(b) 2,370
20(1)(b.1) 32
20(1)(c) 1,940
20(1)(d) 547
20.1 3
20.2 0
20.4 0
Operations of government
Provision Number of requests
21(1)(a) 3,754
21(1)(b) 4,214
21(1)(c) 1,058
21(1)(d) 507
Testing procedures, tests and audits
Provision Number of requests
22 411
22.1(1) 63
Solicitor-Client Privilege
Provision Number of requests
23 2,196
Statutory prohibitions
Provision Number of requests
24(1) 1,916
Information to be published
Provision Number of requests
26 194

Exclusions Footnote 3

The tables that follow indicate exclusions applied under the Access to Information Act for requests closed during the reporting period.

Act does not apply to certain materials
Provision Number of requests
68(a) 468
68(b) 5
68(c) 4
68.1 86
68.2(a) 54
68.2(b) 11
Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of requests
69(1) 43
69(1)(a) 160
69(1)(b) 11
69(1)(c) 46
69(1)(d) 177
69(1)(e) 366
69(1)(f) 32
69(1)(g) re (a) 874
69(1)(g) re (b) 29
69(1)(g) re (c) 440
69(1)(g) re (d) 345
69(1)(g) re (e) 508
69(1)(g) re (f) 248
Certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of requests
69.1(1) 12

Consultations

The number of consultations between federal government institutions in 2015-16 was fairly consistent with 2014-15.

Consultations by other government institutions regarding Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Consultations Number of consultations Number of pages to review
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
Received during reporting period 8,099 7,918 397,689 409,533
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 687 622 123,076 119,479
Total 8,786 8,540 520,765 529,012
Closed during the reporting period 8,101 7,877 409,029 456,120
Pending at the end of the reporting period 685 663 111,736 72,892
Recommendations and closure time for consultations by other government institutions regarding Access to Information Act requests
Recommendation Number of days required to close consultation requests
1 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More Than 365 days Total

Table 11 Notes

Table 11 Note 1

“Consult other institution” refers to a government institution’s recommendation that the institution that consulted them contact additional government institutions subject to the Access to Information Act.

Return to table 11 note 1 referrer

Disclose entirely 3,434 555 150 23 11 8 4,181
Disclose in part 1,718 777 386 86 65 25 3,057
Exempt entirely 114 47 11 3 1 0 176
Exclude entirely 52 10 4 0 1 1 68
Consult other institutiontable 11 note 1 129 38 14 6 8 2 197
Other 336 36 23 4 13 10 422
Total 5,783 1,463 588 122 99 46 8,101

Fees and costs

The annual cost to administer the Government of Canada’s access to information program declined by 3.7 percent to $64.6 million in 2015-16, with the average cost per closed request declining by 11.0 percent to about $890 per request.

Fees waived increased to $138,070, which may, in part, be an outcome of a Federal Court of Appeal decision issued on March 31, 2015, Canada (Office of the Information Commissioner) v. Canada (Attorney General) that clarified that search or preparation fees cannot be charged for electronic records retrieved in response to an access to information request. On May 5, 2016, the Treasury Board Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act further directed government institutions to waive all fees apart from the initial $5 application fee. The impact of this new policy is expected to be reflected in fees collected for 2016-17.

Fees and costs of Access to Information Act operations: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Description of fees and costs Amount
2015-16 2014-15

Table 12 Notes

Table 12 Note 1

Cost of operations includes salaries, overtime, goods and services, contracts and all other expenses specific to Access to Information and Privacy offices. Costs associated with time spent by business areas searching for and reviewing records are not included here.

Return to table 12 note 1 referrer

Table 12 Note 2

This calculation uses the total cost of operations in the reporting period to obtain the average cost per closed request. However, in actuality, the total cost of operations reflects processing costs of some requests that will be carried over into the next reporting period, in addition to closed requests, so the calculation is an approximation.

Return to table 12 note 2 referrer

Cost of operationstable 12 note 1 $64,619,278.00 $67,073,342.00
Requests closed 72,581 67,032
Average cost per closed requesttable 12 note 2 $890.31 $1,000.62
Pages processed 9,025,729 9,919,349
Average cost per processed page $7.16 $6.76
Number of requests in which fees were collected 69,450 62,391
Fees collected $386,390 $367,654
Average fees collected per request $5.56 $5.89
Number of requests in which fees were waived or refunded 10,041 12,733
Fees waived or refunded $138,070 $128,795
Average fees waived per request $13.75 $10.12

Informal requests for government information

An informal request is a request for information made to a government institution subject to the Access to Information Act that is either not made or not processed under the Act. Unlike formal requests, fees cannot be charged under the Act for informal requests, and there are no deadlines for responding. In addition, the requester has no statutory right of complaint to the Information Commissioner.

Informal requests include formal requests that were discontinued in favour of providing information informally, in consultation with the requester. Other types of informal requests include advising requesters when information is already publicly available online, or the re-release of information made available through previously closed formal requests, summaries of which are found online. They do not include responses to Parliamentary Questions or media enquiries, or requests made internally within a government institution to share information between sectors.

In 2015-16, about two-thirds of informal requests were closed within 30 days.

Time required to close informal requests
0 to 30 Days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More Than 365 days Total
9,471 931 2,899 562 193 62 14,118

Access to Information Act requests since 1983

The statistics that follow reflect the best available data since 1983. The categories have been adjusted in some cases in order to compare data across the years.

Number of Access to Information Act requests since 1983
Requests under the Access to Information Act Number of requests
Requests received 781,396
Requests closed 762,243
Figure 06: Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests since 1983
Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests since 1983. Text version below:
Figure 06 - Text version

This table identifies the disposition of closed requests since 1983. Data is shown in percentages.

Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage
All disclosed 26.4%
Disclosed in part 48.0%
Unable to process 19.7%
Withheld entirely 2.6%
Other 3.2%

In the preceding figure:

  • “Withheld entirely” includes categories “all exempted” and “all excluded.”
  • “Other” includes the categories “transferred,” “neither confirmed nor denied” and “treated informally.”
  • “Unable to process” includes the categories “no records exist Footnote 4,” “abandoned Footnote 5” and “requests that could not be processed Footnote 6.”
Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests since 1983
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
Disclosed in part 48.0% 366,216
All disclosed 26.4% 201,416
All exempted 1.9% 14,847
All excluded 0.6% 4,872
No records exist 3.9% 30,008
Abandoned 3.4% 25,542
Transferred 1.3% 9,873
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.1% 706
Treated informally 1.8% 14,057
Requests that could not be processed 12.4% 94,706
Total 100.0% 762,243
Time required to close Access to Information Act Requests since 1983
Closure time (including requests for which extensions were required) Requests as percentage Number of requests
0 to 30 days 60.4% 460,129
31 to 60 days 18.7% 142,246
61 days or more 21.0% 159,868
Total 100.0% 762,243
Fees and costs of Access to Information Act since 1983
Description of fees and costs of operations Amount

Table 13 Notes

Table 13 Note 1

The cumulative cost of operations since 1983 has not been adjusted for inflation.

Return to table 13 note 1 referrer

Table 13 Note 2

This calculation uses the total cost of operations to obtain the average cost per closed request since 1983. However, in actuality, the total cost of operations reflects processing costs of some requests that will be carried over into the next reporting period, in addition to closed requests, so the calculation is an approximation.

Return to table 13 note 2 referrer

Table 13 Note 3

This calculation uses the total amount of fees collected to obtain the average fees collected per closed request since 1983. However, in actuality, fees would not have been collected for every closed request.

Return to table 13 note 3 referrer

Table 13 Note 4

This calculation uses the total amount of fees waived to obtain the average fees waived per closed request since 1983. However, in actuality, fees would not have been waived for every closed request.

Return to table 13 note 4 referrer

Requests closed 762,243
Cost of operationstable 13 note 1 $802,163,399.70
Average cost per closed requesttable 13 note 2 $1,052.37
Fees collected $6,870,785.02
Average fees collected per closed requesttable 13 note 3 $9.01
Fees waived $3,372,444.94
Average fees waived per closed requesttable 13 note 4 $4.42

Privacy Act statistics, 2015-16

Requests under the Privacy Act

70,833 requests were received in 2015-16, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2014-15.

Of 85,855 requests that were received in 2015-16 or were outstanding from the previous period, 81.6 percent were closed. This is relatively consistent with 2014-15: out of 78,947 requests that were received in 2014-15 or were outstanding from the previous period, 80.6 percent were closed.

Ten government institutions received 91.1 percent of all new requests in 2015-16.

Requests received and closed under the Privacy Act
Requests under the Privacy Act Number of requests

Table 14 Notes

Table 14 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the 2014-15 statistical data and the 2015-16 statistical data regarding the number of requests or consultations left outstanding at the end of the 2014-15 reporting period.

Return to table 14 note 1 referrer

Outstanding from 2014-15 reporting periodtable 14 note 1 15,022
Received during 2015-16 reporting period 70,833
Total 85,855
Closed during 2015-16 reporting period 70,079
Carried over to 2016-17 reporting period 15,776
Figure 07: Requests received and closed under the Privacy Act: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Requests received and closed under the Privacy Act: 2015-16 and 2014-15. Text version below:
Figure 07 - Text version

This table compares the number of requests under the Privacy Act received, closed and carried forward within the 2015-16 reporting period with those from 2014-15.

Requests under the Privacy Act 2015-16 2014-15
Outstanding from previous reporting period 15,022 11,548
Requests received during reporting period 70,833 67,399
Closed during reporting period 70,079 63,650
Carried over to next reporting period 15,776 15,297
Privacy Act requests by top ten institutions
Rank Name of institution Received requests as percentage Number of received requests Pages processedtable 15 note 1

Table 15 Notes

Table 15 Note 1

The number of pages processed per government institution represents the total processed pages for closed requests. This does not include the number of pages processed for requests that were carried over into the next reporting period.

Return to table 15 note 1 referrer

1 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 21.6% 15,292 778,052
2 Canada Border Services Agency 15.9% 11,247 296,293
3 Employment and Social Development Canada 11.8% 8,353 789,762
4 Correctional Service of Canada 10.6% 7,502 753,577
5 National Defence 9.9% 6,978 2,819,375
6 Immigration and Refugee Board 7.4% 5,248 215,445
7 Royal Canadian Mounted Police 6.5% 4,615 1,049,014
8 Canada Revenue Agency 4.3% 3,048 476,832
9 Canadian Security Intelligence Service 1.7% 1,212 10,354
10 Public Service Commission of Canada 1.5% 1,036 30,709
Other institutions 8.9% 6,302 1,153,309
Total 100.0% 70,833 8,372,722

Timeliness

Of 70,079 requests closed in 2015-16, 46,090 requests, or 65.8 percent, were closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days.

80.4 percent of requests closed in 2015-16 were closed within established timelines (that is, closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days or within an extension period provided for in the Act). The comparable figure for 2014-15 was 82.1 percent.

Disposition and time required to close Privacy Act requests
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure timetable 16 note 1
0 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total

Table 16 Notes

Table 16 Note 1

The number of days to close requests or consultations refers to calendar days.

Return to table 16 note 1 referrer

Table 16 Note 2

An abandoned request is a request that has been formally withdrawn by the requester, or the requester did not respond to a notice indicating that the request will be closed if they do not respond within a specified time period.

Return to table 16 note 2 referrer

Table 16 Note 3

The category “neither confirmed nor denied” relates to requests for which subsection 16(1) of the Privacy Act was invoked: “The head of a government institution may but is not required to indicate under subsection [16](1) whether personal information exists.”

Return to table 16 note 3 referrer

All disclosed 10,641 4,646 873 435 876 106 17,577
Disclosed in part 18,697 7,664 1,961 1,217 2,600 954 33,093
All exempted 344 76 36 7 12 8 483
All excluded 9 2 0 0 0 0 11
No records exist 9,865 546 123 35 76 114 10,759
Request abandonedtable 16 note 2 5,835 410 114 316 127 616 7,418
Neither confirmed nor deniedtable 16 note 3 699 25 3 2 6 3 738
Total 46,090 13,369 3,110 2,012 3,697 1,801 70,079
Total percentage 65.8% 19.1% 4.4% 2.9% 5.3% 2.6% 100.0%
Time required to close Privacy Act requests according to time period: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Closure time Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
0 to 30 days 65.8% 69.9% 46,090 44,484
31 to 60 days 19.1% 15.9% 13,369 10,096
61 to 120 days 4.4% 4.4% 3,110 2,826
121 to 180 days 2.9% 2.5% 2,012 1,588
181 to 365 days 5.3% 4.9% 3,697 3,094
More than 365 days 2.6% 2.5% 1,801 1,562
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 63,650
Figure 08: Time required to close Privacy Act requests, 2011-12 to 2015-16Footnote 7
Time required to close Privacy Act requests, 2011-12 to 2015-16. Text version below:
Figure 08 - Text version

This table compares the time required to close requests, listed according to time periods, for the last five years, from 2011 to 2016. Data is shown in percentages.

Closure time 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
0 to 30 days 68.9% 51.8% 64.7% 69.9% 65.8%
31 to 60 days 14.9% 23.7% 16.0% 15.9% 19.1%
61 to 120 days 6.4% 12.0% 5.8% 4.4% 4.4%
121 days or more 9.8% 12.6% 13.5% 9.8% 10.7%
Status of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
Closed within the statutory deadline including extensions 80.4% 82.1% 56,370 52,288
Closed in deemed refusal 19.6% 17.9% 13,709 11,362
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 63,650
Figure 09: Privacy Act requests closed within established timelines, 2011-12 to 2015-16
Privacy Act requests closed within established timelines, 2011-12 to 2015-16. Text version below:
Figure 09 - Text version

This table compares the status of requests closed in the last five years, from 2011 to 2016. Data is shown in percentages.

Status of closed request 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Closed Within the Statutory Deadline Including Extensions 77.7% 71.8% 76.4% 82.1% 80.4%
Deemed Refusals 22.3% 28.2% 23.6% 17.9% 19.6%
Reasons for deemed refusalstable 25 note 1 regarding closed Privacy Act requests
Total number of requests closed past the statutory deadline or not within the time frame covered by an extension (deemed refusal) Principal reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Othertable 25 note 2

Table 25 Notes

Table 25 Note 1

The information in this table reflects requests that were neither closed in the initial 30 days nor closed within the time period covered by an extension. These requests are referred to as “deemed refusals.”

Return to table 25 note 1 referrer

Table 25 Note 2

Other reasons include the unavailability of key officials, difficulties in obtaining relevant records, labour disputes, lengthy power outages, etc.

Return to table 25 note 2 referrer

13,709 13,010 79 26 594
Number of days past deadline for Privacy Act requests closed in deemed refusal
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 deemed refusals Total as percentage
1 to 30 days 3,672 792 4,464 32.6%
31 to 60 days 792 308 1,100 8.0%
61 to 120 days 1,506 327 1,833 13.4%
121 to 180 days 1,347 189 1,536 11.2%
181 to 365 days 2,803 379 3,182 23.2%
More than 365 days 521 1,073 1,594 11.6%
Total 10,641 3,068 13,709 100.0%

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 72.3 percent of closed requests. This is a 2.4 percent relative increase, as compared with the previous period.

Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
All disclosed 25.1% 28.7% 17,577 18,266
Disclosed in part 47.2% 46.0% 33,093 29,289
All exempted 0.7% 0.7% 483 476
All excluded 0.0% 0.0% 11 11
No records exist 15.4% 16.4% 10,759 10,453
Request abandoned 10.6% 7.9% 7,418 4,998
Neither confirmed nor denied 1.1% 0.2% 738 157
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 63,650
Figure 10: Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015‒16 and 2014-15
Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015‒16 and 2014-15. Text version below:
Figure 10 - Text version

This table compares the disposition of closed requests for the 2015-16 reporting period with the disposition of those from 2014-15.

Disposition of closed requests 2015-16 2014-15
All disclosed 17,577 18,266
Disclosed in part 33,093 29,289
All exempted 483 476
All excluded 11 11
No records exist 10,759 10,453
Request abandoned 7,418 4,998
Neither confirmed nor denied 738 157

Complexity

In 2015-16, government institutions processed about 8.4 million pages for closed requests; 81.2 percent were disclosed either in full or in part.

Government institutions undertook outside consultations in 1.5 percent of all closed requests.

Relevant pages processed and disclosedtable 17 note 1 regarding closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requeststable 17 note 2
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15

Table 17 Notes

Table 17 Note 1

Institutions subject to the Privacy Act may receive and process duplicate records and, in the end, release a single copy of the duplicates to the requester.

Return to table 17 note 1 referrer

Table 17 Note 2

The total number of requests for each reporting period reflects the total number of requests closed in each period with the exception of those categorized as “no records exist” or “neither confirmed nor denied.”

Return to table 17 note 2 referrer

Table 17 Note 3

Some records may have been disclosed to the requester prior to the request’s abandonment.

Return to table 17 note 3 referrer

All disclosed 1,171,389 867,783 1,117,467 837,243 17,577 18,266
Disclosed in part 7,079,353 6,343,493 5,663,276 4,970,106 33,093 29,289
All exempted 51,117 64,173 0 0 483 476
All excluded 711 277 0 0 11 11
Request abandonedtable 17 note 3 70,152 69,532 15,250 28,875 7,418 4,998
Total 8,372,722 7,345,258 6,795,993 5,836,224 58,582 53,040
Other considerations regarding complexity of closed Privacy Act requests
Disposition Consultation required Legal advice sought Interwoven informationtable 18 note 1 Othertable 18 note 2 Total

Table 18 Notes

Table 18 Note 1

The category “interwoven information” includes requests wherein the relevant records contain personal information about another individual that is blended or intermixed with the personal information of the requester.

Return to table 18 note 1 referrer

Table 18 Note 2

Other considerations include requests for the contents of a database, requests to process audio or video recordings, high-profile subject matter, instances in which records are located in another region or country, instances in which the records are in a language other than English or French, etc.

Return to table 18 note 2 referrer

All disclosed 144 21 112 381 658
Disclosed in part 841 43 4,659 889 6,432
All exempted 14 1 19 8 42
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 19 7 91 49 166
Neither confirmed nor denied 5 1 1 0 7
Total 1,023 73 4,882 1,327 7,305

Extensions

91.2 percent of all extensions taken for closed requests cited paragraph 15(a)(i) of the Privacy Act as a reason for the extension, relating to interference with government operations.

Reasons for and length of extensions regarding closed Privacy Act requests
Length of extensionstable 19 note 1 15(a)(i) - Interference with operations 15(a)(ii) - Consultation 15(b) - Translation or conversion Total
Section 70table 19 note 2 Othertable 19 note 3

Table 19 Notes

Table 19 Note 1

The Privacy Act provides for a maximum extension of 30 days.

Return to table 19 note 1 referrer

Table 19 Note 2

Section 70 of the Privacy Act states that the Act does not apply to confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.

Return to table 19 note 2 referrer

Table 19 Note 3

The “other” category includes consultations with one or more of the following: other federal government institutions, provincial and municipal governments, foreign states, international organizations of states, Aboriginal governments, non-governmental organizations or individuals.

Return to table 19 note 3 referrer

1 to 15 days 57 0 10 0 67
16 to 30 days 7,475 8 686 23 8,192
Total 7,532 8 696 23 8,259

Exemptions Footnote 8

The tables that follow indicate exemptions applied under the Privacy Act in requests closed during the reporting period.

Exempt banks
Provision Number of requests
18(2) 590
Personal information obtained in confidence
Provision Number of requests
19(1)(a) 878
19(1)(b) 73
19(1)(c) 1,540
19(1)(d) 827
19(1)(e) 28
19(1)(f) 3
Federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
20 3
International affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
21 6,136
Law enforcement and investigation
Provision Number of requests
22(1)(a)(i) 2,322
22(1)(a)(ii) 1,152
22(1)(a)(iii) 144
22(1)(b) 5,941
22(1)(c) 1,018
22(2) 3
22.1 36
22.2 1
22.3 8
Security clearances
Provision Number of requests
23(a) 42
23(b) 3
Individuals sentenced for an offence
Provision Number of requests
24(a) 22
24(b) 231
Safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
25 70
Information about another individual
Provision Number of requests
26 27,825
Solicitor-client privilege
Provision Number of requests
27 967
Medical records
Provision Number of requests
28 41

Exclusions Footnote 9

The tables that follow indicate exclusions applied under the Privacy Act for requests closed during the reporting period.

Act does not apply to certain materials
Provision Number of requests
69(1)(a) 6
69(1)(b) 1
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Provision Number of Requests
69.1 2
Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of Requests
70(1) 1
70(1)(a) 3
70(1)(b) 0
70(1)(c) 1
70(1)(d) 0
70(1)(e) 0
70(1)(f) 2
Certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of Requests
70.1 1

Consultations

The number of consultations between federal government institutions in 2015-16 was fairly consistent with 2014-15.

Consultations by other government institutions regarding Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Consultations Number of consultations Number of pages to review
2015-16 2014-15 2015-16 2014-15
Received during reporting period 902 915 40,481 39,606
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 38 51 4,205 9,825
Total 940 966 44,686 49,431
Closed during the reporting period 904 931 41,720 45,411
Pending at the end of the reporting period 36 35 2,966 4,020
Recommendations and closure time for consultations by other government institutions regarding Privacy Act requests
Recommendation Number of days required to close consultation requests
1 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total

Table 20 Notes

Table 20 Note 1

“Consult other institution” refers to a government institution’s recommendation that the institution that consulted them contact additional government institutions subject to the Privacy Act.

Return to table 20 note 1 referrer

Disclose entirely 330 12 1 1 3 1 348
Disclose in part 399 43 15 7 6 3 473
Exempt entirely 27 3 0 2 0 0 32
Exclude entirely 1 0 1 0 0 0 2
Consult other institutiontable 20 note 1 6 2 1 0 0 0 9
Other 37 1 1 0 0 1 40
Total 800 61 19 10 9 5 904

Costs

The cost to administer the Government of Canada’s privacy program grew by 11.2 percent to nearly $41 million in 2015-16, with the average cost per closed request increasing slightly.

Cost of Privacy Act operations: 2015-16 and 2014-15
Description of costs Amount
2015-16 2014-15

Table 21 Notes

Table 21 Note 1

Cost of operations includes salaries, overtime, goods and services, contracts and all other expenses specific to Access to Information and Privacy offices. Costs associated with time spent by business areas searching for and reviewing records are not included here.

Return to table 21 note 1 referrer

Table 21 Note 2

This calculation uses the total cost of operations in the reporting period to obtain the average cost per closed request. However, in actuality, the total cost of operations reflects processing costs of some requests that will be carried over into the next reporting period, in addition to closed requests, so the calculation is an approximation.

Return to table 21 note 2 referrer

Cost of operationstable 21 note 1 $40,997,073.00 $36,879,018.00
Requests closed 70,079 63,650
Average cost per closed requesttable 21 note 2 $585.01 $579.40
Pages processed 8,372,722 7,345,258
Average cost per page processed $4.90 $5.02

Disclosures under subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act

Subsection 8(1) of the Privacy Act states that “personal information under the control of a government institution shall not, without the consent of the individual to whom it relates, be disclosed by the institution except in accordance with this section.” Subsection 8(2) of the Act, subject to other Acts of Parliament, provides for exceptions where it would be possible for government institutions to disclose personal information without consent.

Disclosures under subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act
Paragraph 8(2)(e)table 22 note 1 Paragraph 8(2)(m)table 22 note 2 Total

Table 22 Notes

Table 22 Note 1

Paragraph 8(2)(e) of the Privacy Act: “Subject to any other Act of Parliament, personal information under the control of a government institution may be disclosed… to an investigative body specified in the regulations, on the written request of the body, for the purpose of enforcing any law of Canada or a province or carrying out a lawful investigation, if the request specifies the purpose and describes the information to be disclosed.”

Return to table 22 note 1 referrer

Table 22 Note 2

Paragraph 8(2)(m) of the Privacy Act: “Subject to any other Act of Parliament, personal information under the control of a government institution may be disclosed… for any purpose where, in the opinion of the head of the institution, (i) the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure, or (ii) disclosure would clearly benefit the individual to whom the information relates.”

Return to table 22 note 2 referrer

7,518 187 7,705

Requests for correction of personal information and notations

Subsection 12(2) of the Privacy Act provides individuals with the right to request that government institutions correct personal information under their control when the individual believes that it may contain errors or omissions. Alternatively, the individual may request that government institutions attach a notation to the information to reflect any corrections that were requested but not made.

Where the information has been disclosed to other individuals or organizations, government institutions are also required to advise them of the correction or notation.

Requests for correction of personal information
Disposition of received requests Amount
Requests for correction accepted 39
Notations attached 32
Total 71

Privacy impact assessments

Privacy impact assessments (PIAs) provide a framework to ensure that privacy is considered throughout the design or redesign of programs or service delivery. The PIAs identify the extent to which proposals comply with all appropriate statutes, assist managers and decision makers in avoiding or mitigating privacy risks, and promote informed policy, program and system design choices.

Completed PIAs must be submitted to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat as well as to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Number of privacy impact assessments initiated and completed
Privacy impact assessments Amount

Table 26 Notes

Table 26 Note 1

“Completed” signifies privacy impact assessments that were submitted to both the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Information and Privacy Policy Division of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Return to table 26 note 1 referrer

Number of PIAs completedtable 26 note 1 78

Personal information banks

Personal Information Banks (PIBs) are descriptions of personal information held by government institutions. The Privacy Act requires that PIBs describe all personal information about individuals that is organized and retrievable by a person’s name or by an identifying number, symbol or other particular assigned only to that person. PIBs must include personal information that has been or is being used, or is available for use, to support a program or activity.

Institution-specific PIBs describe personal information contained in the records of a specific government institution.

Standard PIBs describe personal information found in records created, collected and maintained by most government institutions to support common internal programs and activities, such as communications, travel and employment. They are created by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and government institutions can register against them.

Central PIBs describe personal information about members of the general public as well as current and former employees from all or several government institutions. They are maintained by central government departments and agencies.

Personal information banks Amount

Table 27 Notes

Table 27 Note 1

At the date of this report’s publication, there were 50 standard personal information banks maintained by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Return to table 27 note 1 referrer

Number of new institution-specific PIBs registered 139
Number of times standard PIBs were registered against by government institutionstable 27 note 1 165
Number of central PIBs registered 3
Total number of new PIBs registered 307
Number of government institutions registering new PIBs 46

Privacy Act requests since 1983

The statistics that follow reflect the best available data since 1983. The categories have been adjusted in some cases in order to compare data across the years.

Number of Privacy Act requests since 1983
Requests under the Privacy Act Number of requests
Requests received 1,505,989
Requests closed 1,489,353
Figure 11: Disposition of Closed Privacy Act requests since 1983
Disposition of Closed Privacy Act requests since 1983. Text version below:
Figure 11 - Text version

This table identifies the disposition of closed requests since 1983. Data is shown in percentages.

Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage
All disclosed 44.5%
Disclosed in part 37.1%
Unable to process 17.3%
Withheld entirely 1.0%
Other 0.1%

In the preceding figure:

  • “Withheld entirely” includes categories “all exempted” and “all excluded.”
  • “Unable to process” includes the categories “no records exist Footnote 10 ,” “transferred Footnote 11 ,” “abandoned Footnote 12 ” and “requests that could not be processed Footnote 13.”
  • “Other” consists of the category “neither confirmed nor denied.”
Disposition of closed Privacy Act Requests since 1983
Disposition of closed Requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
All disclosed 44.5% 663,245
Disclosed in part 37.1% 552,794
All exempted 1.0% 14,680
All excluded 0.0% 647
No records exist 3.1% 45,799
Abandoned 5.2% 77,440
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.1% 895
Transferred 2.2% 32,188
Requests that could not be processed 6.8% 101,665
Total 100.0% 1,489,353
Time required to close Privacy Act requests since 1983
Closure time (including requests for which extensions were required) Requests as percentage Number of requests
0 to 30 days 60.5% 900,642
31 to 60 days 18.1% 269,192
61 days or more 21.5% 319,519
Total 100.0% 1,489,353
Cost of Privacy Act operations since 1983
Description of cost of operations Amount

Table 23 Notes

Table 23 Note 1

The cumulative cost of operations since 1983 has not been adjusted for inflation.

Return to table 23 note 1 referrer

Table 23 Note 2

This calculation uses the total cost of operations to obtain the average cost per closed request since 1983. However, in actuality, the total cost of operations reflects processing costs of some requests that will be carried over into the next reporting period, in addition to closed requests, so the calculation is an approximation.

Return to table 23 note 2 referrer

Requests closed 1,489,353
Cost of operationstable 23 note 1 $502,182,865.12
Average cost per closed requesttable 23 note 2 $337.18
Figure 12: Cost of operations regarding the Access to Information Act vs. the Privacy Act since 1983
Cost of operations regarding the Access to Information Act vs. the Privacy Act since 1983. Text version below:
Figure 12 - Text version

This table compares the cost of operations since 1983 relating to the administration of the Access to Information Act across the Government of Canada, with those regarding the Privacy Act.

Access to Information Act costs $802,163,399.70
Privacy Act costs $502,182,865.12

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