Access to information and privacy statistical report, 2016-17

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 July 1, 1983.

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 April 1, 2016, to March 31, 2017, provided by government institutions subject to the Acts. Cumulative data from 1983 to March 31, 2017 is also presented.

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

On this page

Access to Information Act statistics, 2016-17

Requests under the Access to Information Act

91,880 requests were received in 2016-17, an increase of 21.9 percent from 2015-16.

Of 105,973 requests that were received in 2016-17 or were outstanding from the previous period, 82 percent were closed. This is relatively consistent with 2015-16: out of 87,115 requests that were received in 2015-16 or were outstanding from the previous period, 83.3 percent were closed.

Ten government institutions received 82.8 percent of all new requests in 2016-17.

Requests received and closed under the Access to Information Act
Requests under the Access to Information Act Number of requests
Outstanding from 2015-16 reporting period See table 1 note 1 14,093
Received during 2016-17 reporting period 91,880
Total 105,973
Closed during 2016-17 period 86,908
Carried over to 2017-18 reporting period 19,065

Table 1 Notes

Table 1 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the 2015-16 statistical data and the 2016-17 statistical data regarding the number of requests or consultations left outstanding at the end of the 2015-16 reporting period.

Return to table 1 note 1 referrer

Figure 01: Requests received and closed under the Access to Information Act: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Bar chart. 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 from the 2015-16 reporting period with those from within 2016-17.

Requests under the Access to Information Act 2015-16 2016-17
Outstanding from previous reporting period 11,728 14,093
Received during reporting period 75,387 91,880
Closed during reporting period 72,581 86,908
Carried over to next reporting period 14,534 19,065
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 See table 2 note 1
1 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 55.2% 50,728 2,834,527
2 Canada Border Services Agency 6.8% 6,265 751,829
3 Royal Canadian Mounted Police 5.3% 4,826 654,127
4 National Defence 3.1% 2,838 160,063
5 Canada Revenue Agency 3.0% 2,747 1,406,334
6 Employment and Social Development Canada 2.5% 2,268 438,368
7 Health Canada 2.1% 1,959 1,891,795
8 Environment and Climate Change Canada 1.9% 1,720 164,831
9 Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada 1.6% 1,476 1,947,063
10 Public Services and Procurement Canada 1.4% 1,295 240,567
Other Institutions 17.2% 15,758 5,557,742
Total 100.00% 91,880 16,047,246

Table 2 Notes

Table 2 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 2 note 1 referrer

Sources of received Access to Information Act requests
Source Number of requests Percentage of requests
Business (private sector) 38,319 41.7%
Public 31,030 33.8%
Media 8,838 9.6%
Organization See table 3 note 1 4,631 5.0%
Academia 3,452 3.8%
Decline to identify See table 3 note 2 5,610 6.1%
Total 91,880 100.0%

Table 3 Notes

Table 3 Note 1

The category “organization” includes, but is not limited to, associations, unions, non-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 3 note 1 referrer

Table 3 Note 2

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

Return to table 3 note 2 referrer

Figure 02: Sources of received Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Bar chart. Text version below:
Figure 02: Text version

This table compares requester types (the sources of requests) from the 2015-16 reporting period with those for the 2016-17.

Source 2015-16 2016-17
Business 30,780 38,319
Public 26,638 31,030
Media 6,862 8,838
Organization 3,602 4,631
Academia 2,885 3,452
Decline to identify 4,620 5,610

Timeliness

Of 86,908 requests closed in 2016-17, 56,084, or 64.5 percent, were closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days.

80.7 percent of requests were closed within established timelines (that is, closed within the statutory deadline of 30 days or within an extension period provided for in the Act). The comparable figure in 2015-16 was 85.9 percent.

Disposition and time required to close Access to Information Act requests
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure time See table 4 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
All disclosed 12,199 3,208 1,276 203 202 88 17,176
Disclosed in part 30,721 10,998 6,264 1,934 1,854 1,399 53,170
All exempted 476 157 150 35 34 18 870
All excluded 216 61 93 17 13 3 403
No records exist 5,205 848 279 72 46 33 6,483
Request transferred 638 7 0 1 0 0 646
Request abandoned See table 4 note 2 6,436 314 167 88 100 781 7,886
Neither confirmed nor denied See table 4 note 3 193 23 19 9 26 4 274
Total number of requests 56,084 15,616 8,248 2,359 2,275 2,326 86,908
Total as percentage 64.5% 18.0% 9.5% 2.7% 2.6% 2.7% 100.0%

Table 4 Notes

Table 4 Note 1

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

Return to table 4 note 1 referrer

Table 4 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 4 note 2 referrer

Table 4 Note 3

The category “neither confirmed nor denied” relate to 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 4 note 3 referrer

Time required to close Access to Information Act requests according to time period: 2015-16 and 2016-17 See table 5 note 1
Closure time Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
0 to 30 days 64.1% 64.5% 46,543 56,084
31 to 60 days 21.3% 18.0% 15,442 15,616
61 to 120 days 7.5% 9.5% 5,446 8,248
121 to 180 days 2.6% 2.7% 1,883 2,359
181 to 365 days 2.4% 2.6% 1,741 2,275
More than 365 days 2.1% 2.7% 1,526 2,326
Total 100.0% 100.0% 72,581 86,908

Table 5 Notes

Table 5 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 5 note 1 referrer

Figure 03: Time required to close Access to Information Act requests, 2012-13 to 2016-17 See Footnote 1
Bar chart. 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 2012 to 2017. Data is shown in percentages.

Closure time 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
0 to 30 days 64.8% 61.0% 65.1% 64.1% 64.5%
31 to 60 days 17.2% 18.0% 19.6% 21.3% 18.0%
61 to 120 days 9.8% 10.4% 8.0% 7.5% 9.5%
121 days or more 8.1% 10.6% 7.3% 7.1% 8.0%
Status of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
Closed within the statutory deadline including extensions 85.9% 80.7% 62,366 70,128
Closed in deemed refusal 14.1% 19.3% 10,215 16,780
Total 100.0% 100.0% 72,581 86,908
Figure 04: Access to Information Act requests closed within established timelines, 2012-13 to 2016-17
Line chart. Text version below:
Figure 04: Text version

This table compares the status of requests closed in the last five years, from 2012 to 2017. Data is shown in percentages.

Status of closed request 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Closed Within the Statutory Deadline Including Extensions 89.3% 86.0% 87.5% 85.9% 80.7%
Deemed Refusals 10.7% 14.0% 12.5% 14.1% 19.3%
Reasons for deemed refusals See table 6 note 1 regarding closed Access to Information Act requests
Total number of requests closed past the statutory deadline or not within the timeframe covered by an extension (deemed refusal) Principal reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other See table 6 note 2
16,780 14,725 500 398 1,157

Table 6 Notes

Table 6 Note 1

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

Return to table 6 note 1 referrer

Table 6 Note 2

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

Return to table 6 note 2 referrer

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 7,176 923 8,099 48.3%
31 to 60 days 2,024 510 2,534 15.1%
61 to 120 days 1,510 595 2,105 12.5%
121 to 180 days 520 385 905 5.4%
181 to 365 days 795 601 1,396 8.3%
More than 365 days 947 794 1,741 10.4%
Total 12,972 3,808 16,780 100.0%

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 81 percent of closed requests. This is stable, as compared with the previous period.

Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 24.2% 19.8% 17,556 17,176
Disclosed in part 56.7% 61.2% 41,152 53,170
All exempted 1.1% 1.0% 798 870
All excluded 0.4% 0.5% 315 403
No records exist 8.0% 7.5% 5,823 6,483
Request transferred 0.7% 0.7% 473 646
Request abandoned 8.2% 9.1% 5,953 7,886
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.7% 0.3% 511 274
Total 100.0% 100.0% 72,581 86,908
Figure 05: Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Bar chart. Text version below:
Figure 05: Text version

This table compares the disposition of closed requests from the 2015-16 reporting period with the disposition of those for the 2016-17.

Disposition of closed requests 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 17,556 17,176
Disclosed in part 41,152 53,170
All exempted 798 870
All excluded 315 403
No records exist 5,823 6,483
Request transferred 473 646
Request abandoned 5,953 7,886
Neither confirmed nor denied 511 274

Complexity

In 2016-17, Government institutions processed about 16 million pages for closed requests, an increase of about 7 million pages as compared to 2015-16; 62.3 percent of pages were disclosed either in full or in part.

Government institutions undertook outside consultations in 8.9 percent of all closed requests.

Relevant pages processed and disclosed regarding closed Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests See table 7 note 1
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 1,054,276 3,165,256 991,379 3,116,170 17,556 17,176
Disclosed in part 7,305,111 10,200,570 5,574,908 6,832,982 41,152 53,170
All exempted 165,984 389,436 0 0 798 870
All excluded 22,556 16,497 0 0 315 403
Request abandoned See table 7 note 2 477,802 2,275,487 56,714 51,976 5,953 7886
Total 9,025,729 16,047,246 6,623,001 10,001,128 65,774 79,505

Table 7 Notes

Table 7 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 7 note 1 referrer

Table 7 Note 2

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

Return to table 7 note 2 referrer

Other considerations regarding complexity of closed Access to Information Act requests
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Other See table 8 note 1 Total
All disclosed 680 16 20 529 1,245
Disclosed in part 6,516 66 282 1,575 8,439
All exempted 118 2 18 69 207
All excluded 142 0 16 26 184
Request abandoned 236 28 20 285 569
Neither confirmed nor denied 7 1 2 11 21
Total 7,699 113 358 2,495 10,665

Table 8 Notes

Table 8 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.

Return to table 8 note 1 referrer

Extensions

43.2 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, 30.4 percent of all extensions taken for closed requests were for 30 days or less, and 92.9 percent were for 120 days or less.

Reasons for and length of extensions regarding closed Access to Information Act requests
Length of extensions See table 9 note 1 9(1)(a) - Interference with operations 9(1)(b) - Consultation 9(1)(c) - Third-party notice Total
Section 69 See table 9 note 2 Other See table 9 note 3
30 days or less 2,449 90 1,705 215 4,459
31 to 60 days 2,211 249 1,906 1,323 5,689
61 to 120 days 1,151 517 1,517 307 3,492
121 to 180 days 237 38 231 54 560
181 to 365 days 175 9 111 29 324
365 days or more 118 1 25 6 150
Total 6,341 904 5,495 1,934 14,674

Table 9 Notes

Table 9 Note 1

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

Return to table 9 note 1 referrer

Table 9 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 9 note 2 referrer

Table 9 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 9 note 3 referrer

Exemptions See 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) 3,852
13(1)(b) 258
13(1)(c) 823
13(1)(d) 334
13(1)(e) 53
Federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
14 633
14(a) 526
14(b) 233
International affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
15(1) 666
15(1) International Affairs 2,152
15(1) Defence 1,370
15(1) Subversive activities 9,134
Law enforcement and investigations
Provision Number of requests
16(1)(a)(i) 1,185
16(1)(a)(ii) 833
16(1)(a)(iii) 169
16(1)(b) 644
16(1)(c) 23,453
16(1)(d) 90
16(2) 1,492
16(2)(a) 22
16(2)(b) 30
16(2)(c) 2,541
16(3) 7
16.1(1)(a) 38
16.1(1)(b) 26
16.1(1)(c) 80
16.1(1)(d) 91
16.2(1) 102
16.3 15
16.4(1)(a) 8
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 18
Safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
17 349
Economic interests of Canada
Provision Number of requests
18(a) 291
18(b) 458
18(c) 20
18(d) 280
18.1(1)(a) 80
18.1(1)(b) 33
18.1(1)(c) 8
18.1(1)(d) 18
Personal information
Provision Number of requests
19(1) 34,426
Third-party information
Provision Number of requests
20(1)(a) 136
20(1)(b) 2,682
20(1)(b.1) 121
20(1)(c) 2,312
20(1)(d) 550
20.1 104
20.2 0
20.4 0
Operations of government
Provision Number of requests
21(1)(a) 4,577
21(1)(b) 4,897
21(1)(c) 997
21(1)(d) 411
Testing procedures, tests and audits
Provision Number of requests
22 374
22.1(1) 72
Solicitor-Client Privilege
Provision Number of requests
23 2,639
Statutory prohibitions
Provision Number of requests
24(1) 2,310
Information to be published
Provision Number of requests
26 188

Exclusions See 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) 562
68(b) 5
68(c) 5
68.1 122
68.2(a) 85
68.2(b) 21
Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of requests
69(1) 91
69(1)(a) 246
69(1)(b) 20
69(1)(c) 92
69(1)(d) 164
69(1)(e) 487
69(1)(f) 66
69(1)(g) re (a) 998
69(1)(g) re (b) 29
69(1)(g) re (c) 578
69(1)(g) re (d) 316
69(1)(g) re (e) 658
69(1)(g) re (f) 278
Certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of requests
69.1(1) 37

Consultations

The number of consultations between federal government institutions in 2016-17 was fairly consistent with 2015-16, an increase of 3.5 percent, however the number of pages to review increased by 24.9 percent.

Consultations by other government institutions regarding Access to Information Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Consultations Number of consultations Number of pages to review
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
Received during reporting period 8,099 8,532 397,689 533,526
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 687 564 123,076 117,101
Total 8,786 9,096 520,765 650,627
Closed during the reporting period 8,101 8,137 409,929 515,121
Pending at the end of the reporting period 685 959 111,736 135,506
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
Disclose entirely 3,359 573 238 34 20 10 4,234
Disclose in part 1,704 764 409 107 63 9 3,056
Exempt entirely 129 38 16 5 1 1 190
Exclude entirely 13 5 5 0 0 1 24
Consult other institution See table 10 note 1 113 14 18 5 4 1 155
Other 389 51 21 4 10 3 478
Total 5,707 1,445 707 155 98 25 8,137

Table 10 Notes

Table 10 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 10 note 1 referrer

Fees and costs

The annual cost to administer the Government of Canada’s access to information program increased by 0.2 percent to $64.7 million in 2016-17, with the average cost per closed request declining by 16.3 percent to about $745 per request.

The increase in fees waived to $229,955 reflects that on May 5, 2016, the President of the Treasury Board issued the Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, directing government institutions to waive all fees apart from the initial $5 application fee.

Fees and costs of Access to Information Act operations: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Description of fees and costs Amount
2015-16 2016-17
Cost of operations See table 11 note 1 $64,619,278.00 $64,771,471.00
Requests closed 72,581 86,908
Average cost per closed request See table 11 note 2 $890.31 $745.29
Pages processed 9,025,729 16,047,246
Average cost per processed page $7.16 $4.04
Number of requests in which fees were collected 69,450 82,941
Fees collected $386,390 $442,956
Average fees collected per request $5.56 $5.34
Number of requests in which fees were waived or refunded 10,041 5,597
Fees waived or refunded $138,070 $229,955
Average fees waived per request $13.75 $41.09

Table 11 Notes

Table 11 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 11 note 1 referrer

Table 11 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 11 note 2 referrer

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 2016-17, 61.2 percent of informal requests were closed within 30 days, as compared with 67.1 percent in 2015-16.

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
10,808 1,897 1,086 2,640 1,120 86 17,637

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 873,276
Requests closed 849,151
Figure 06: Disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests since 1983
Pie chart. 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 25.7%
Disclosed in part 49.4%
Unable to process 19.4%
Withheld entirely 2.5%
Other 3.0%

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 See Footnote 4,” “abandoned See Footnote 5” and “requests that could not be processed See 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 49.4% 419,386
All disclosed 25.7% 218,592
All exempted 1.9% 15,717
All excluded 0.6% 5,275
No records exist 4.3% 36,491
Abandoned 3.9% 33,428
Transferred 1.2% 10,519
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.1% 980
Treated informally 1.7% 14,057
Requests that could not be processed 11.2% 94,706
Total 100.0% 849,151
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 60.8% 516,213
31 to 60 days 18.6% 157,862
61 days or more 20.6% 175,076
Total 100.0% 849,151
Fees and costs of Access to Information Act since 1983
Description of fees and costs of operations Amount
Requests closed 849,151
Cost of operations See table 12 note 1 $866,934,870.70
Average cost per closed request See table 12 note 2 $1,020.94
Fees collected $7,313,741.02
Average fees collected per closed request See table 12 note 3 $8.61
Fees waived $3,602,399.94
Average fees waived per closed request See table 12 note 4 $4.24

Table 12 Notes

Table 12 Note 1

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

Return to table 12 note 1 referrer

Table 12 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 12 note 2 referrer

Table 12 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 12 note 3 referrer

Table 12 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 12 note 4 referrer

Privacy Act statistics, 2016-17

Requests under the Privacy Act

70,490 requests were received in 2016-17, a decrease of 0.5 percent from 2015-16.

Of 86,916 requests that were received in 2016-17 or were outstanding from the previous period, 75.6 percent were closed. This is a decrease from 2015-16: out of 85,855 requests that were received in 2015-16 or were outstanding from the previous period, 81.6 percent were closed.

Ten government institutions received 92.4 percent of all new requests in 2016-17.

Requests received and closed under the Privacy Act
Requests under the Privacy Act Number of requests
Outstanding from 2015-16 reporting period See table 13 note 1 16,426
Received during 2016-17 reporting period 70,490
Total 86,916
Closed during 2016-17 reporting period 65,713
Carried over to 2017-18 reporting period 21,203

Table 13 Notes

Table 13 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the 2015-16 statistical data and the 2016-17 statistical data regarding the number of requests or consultations left outstanding at the end of the 2015-16 reporting period.

Return to table 13 note 1 referrer

Figure 07:  Requests received and closed under the Privacy Act: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Bar chart. Text version below:
Figure 07: Text version

This table compares the number of requests under the Privacy Act received, closed and carried forward from the 2015-16 reporting period with those within the 2016-17.

Requests under the Privacy Act 2015-16 2016-17
Outstanding from previous reporting period 15,022 16,426
Requests received during reporting period 70,833 70,490
Closed during reporting period 70,079 65,713
Carried over to next reporting period 15,776 21,203
Privacy Act requests by top ten institutions
Rank Name of institution Received requests as percentage Number of received requests Pages processed See table 14 note 1
1 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 17.9% 12,605 744,971
2 Canada Border Services Agency 16.4% 11,590 545,763
3 Employment and Social Development Canada 11.8% 8,353 818,954
4 National Defence 11.7% 8,244 2,111,559
5 Correctional Service of Canada 9.7% 6,861 599,106
6 Immigration and Refugee Board 7.5% 5,310 132,648
7 Royal Canadian Mounted Police 7.3% 5,139 724,306
8 Canada Revenue Agency 4.5% 3,174 1,086,917
9 Public Service Commission of Canada 4.3% 3,062 45,253
10 Canada Post Corporation 1.2% 845 58,798
Other institutions 7.5% 5,307 1,345,648
Total 100.0% 70,490 8,213,923

Table 14 Notes

Table 14 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 14 note 1 referrer

Timeliness

Of 65,713 requests closed in 2016-17, 47,524 requests, or 72.3 percent (a relative increase of 3.1 percent as compared with last year), were closed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days.

80.4 percent of requests closed in 2016-17 were closed within established timelines (that is, closed within the statutory deadline of 30 days or within an extension period provided for in the Act). The comparable figure for 2015-16 was identical.

Disposition and time required to close Privacy Act requests
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure time See table 15 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
All disclosed 12,268 2,638 633 498 260 129 16,426
Disclosed in part 17,293 5,200 2,145 1,386 1,354 1,146 28,524
All exempted 283 68 27 9 10 7 404
All excluded 5 0 1 0 0 0 6
No records exist 12,169 794 229 63 61 82 13,398
Request abandoned See table 15 note 2 5,173 290 89 35 67 941 6,595
Neither confirmed nor denied See table 15 note 3 333 16 5 1 3 2 360
Total 47,524 9,006 3,129 1,992 1,755 2,307 65,713
Total percentage 72.3% 13.7% 4.8% 3.0% 2.7% 3.5% 100.0%

Table 15 Notes

Table 15 Note 1

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

Return to table 15 note 1 referrer

Table 15 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 15 note 2 referrer

Table 15 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 15 note 3 referrer

Time required to close Privacy Act requests according to time period: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Closure time Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
0 to 30 days 65.8% 72.3% 46,090 47,524
31 to 60 days 19.1% 13.7% 13,369 9,006
61 to 120 days 4.4% 4.8% 3,110 3,129
121 to 180 days 2.9% 3.0% 2,012 1,992
181 to 365 days 5.3% 2.7% 3,697 1,755
More than 365 days 2.6% 3.5% 1,801 2,307
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 65,713
Figure 08: Time required to close Privacy Act requests, 2012-13 to 2016-17 See Footnote 7
Bar chart. 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 2012 to 2017. Data is shown in percentages.

Closure time 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
0 to 30 days 51.8% 64.7% 69.9% 65.8% 72.3%
31 to 60 days 23.7% 16.0% 15.9% 19.1% 13.7%
61 to 120 days 12.0% 5.8% 4.4% 4.4% 4.8%
121 days or more 12.6% 13.5% 9.8% 10.7% 9.2%
Status of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
Closed within the statutory deadline including extensions 80.4% 80.4% 56,370 52,824
Closed in deemed refusal 19.6% 19.6% 13,709 12,889
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 65,713
Figure 09: Privacy Act requests closed within established timelines, 2012-13 to 2016-17
Line chart. Text version below:
Figure 09: Text version

This table compares the status of requests closed in the last five years, from 2012 to 2017. Data is shown in percentages.

Status of closed request 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Closed Within the Statutory Deadline Including Extensions 71.8% 76.4% 82.1% 80.4% 80.4%
Deemed Refusals 28.2% 23.6% 17.9% 19.6% 19.6%
Reasons for deemed refusals See table 16 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 Other See table 16 note 2
12,889 11,858 60 40 931

Table 16 Notes

Table 16 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 16 note 1 referrer

Table 16 Note 2

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

Return to table 16 note 2 referrer

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 3,993 504 4,497 34.89%
31 to 60 days 1,229 223 1,452 11.26%
61 to 120 days 1,922 274 2,196 17.04%
121 to 180 days 1,143 174 1,317 10.22%
181 to 365 days 912 441 1,353 10.50%
More than 365 days 940 1,134 2,074 16.09%
Total 10,139 2,750 12,889 100.0%

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 68.4 percent of closed requests. This is an 11.3 percent relative decrease, as compared with the previous period.

Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 25.1% 25.0% 17,577 16,426
Disclosed in part 47.2% 43.4% 33,093 28,524
All exempted 0.7% 0.6% 483 404
All excluded 0.0% 0.0% 11 6
No records exist 15.4% 20.4% 10,759 13,398
Request abandoned 10.6% 10.0% 7,418 6,595
Neither confirmed nor denied 1.1% 0.5% 738 360
Total 100.0% 100.0% 70,079 65,713
Figure 10: Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests: 2015‒16 and 2016-17
Bar chart. Text version below:
Figure 10: Text version

This table compares the disposition of closed requests from the 2015-16 reporting period with the disposition of those for the 2016-17.

Disposition of closed requests 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 17,577 16,426
Disclosed in part 33,093 28,524
All exempted 483 404
All excluded 11 6
No records exist 10,759 13,398
Request abandoned 7,418 6,595
Neither confirmed nor denied 738 360

Complexity

In 2016-17, government institutions processed about 8.2 million pages for closed requests; 73.6 percent were disclosed either in full or in part.

Government institutions undertook outside consultations in 1.3 percent of all closed requests.

Relevant pages processed and disclosed See table 17 note 1 regarding closed Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests See table 17 note 2
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
All disclosed 1,171,389 911,322 1,117,467 847,850 17,577 16,426
Disclosed in part 7,079,353 7,119,892 5,663,276 5,158,833 33,093 28,524
All exempted 51,117 78,682 0 0 483 404
All excluded 711 204 0 0 11 6
Request abandoned See table 17 note 3 70,152 103,823 15,250 40,736 7,418 6,595
Total 8,372,722 8,213,923 6,795,993 6,047,419 58,582 51,955

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 requestor.

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

Other considerations regarding complexity of closed Privacy Act requests
Disposition Consultation required Legal advice sought Interwoven information See table 18 note 1 Other See table 18 note 2 Total
All disclosed 26 16 102 303 447
Disclosed in part 786 33 4,487 688 5,994
All exempted 8 2 10 2 22
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 30 9 35 56 130
Neither confirmed nor denied 7 1 0 1 9
Total 857 61 4,634 1,050 6,602

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

Extensions

85.6 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 extensions See table 19 note 1 15(a)(i) - Interference with operations 15(a)(ii) - Consultation 15(b) - Translation or conversion Total
Section 70 See table 19 note 2 Other See table 19 note 3
1 to 15 days 29 0 153 1 183
16 to 30 days 4,461 5 586 13 5,065
Total 4,490 5 739 14 5,248

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

Exemptions See 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) 243
Personal information obtained in confidence
Provision Number of requests
19(1)(a) 891
19(1)(b) 75
19(1)(c) 1,180
19(1)(d) 615
19(1)(e) 2
19(1)(f) 2
Federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
20 7
International affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
21 5,375
Law enforcement and investigation
Provision Number of requests
22(1)(a)(i) 1,761
22(1)(a)(ii) 1,006
22(1)(a)(iii) 21
22(1)(b) 6,198
22(1)(c) 612
22(2) 1
22.1 15
22.2 8
22.3 14
Security clearances
Provision Number of requests
23(a) 26
23(b) 1
Individuals sentenced for an offence
Provision Number of requests
24(a) 4
24(b) 146
Safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
25 43
Information about another individual
Provision Number of requests
26 24,377
Solicitor-client privilege
Provision Number of requests
27 1,084
Medical records
Provision Number of requests
28 20

Exclusions See 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) 0
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Provision Number of Requests
69.1 1
Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of Requests
70(1) 2
70(1)(a) 1
70(1)(b) 0
70(1)(c) 0
70(1)(d) 1
70(1)(e) 0
70(1)(f) 0
Certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of Requests
70.1 0

Consultations

The number of consultations between federal government institutions decreased by 36.1 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17.

Consultations by other government institutions regarding Privacy Act requests: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Consultations Number of consultations Number of pages to review
2015-16 2016-17 2015-16 2016-17
Received during reporting period 902 567 40,481 49,937
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 38 34 4,205 4,675
Total 940 601 44,686 54,612
Closed during the reporting period 904 555 41,720 29,169
Pending at the end of the reporting period 36 46 2,966 25,443
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
Disclose entirely 183 11 6 0 2 0 202
Disclose in part 227 35 21 6 5 1 295
Exempt entirely 25 3 0 0 1 0 29
Exclude entirely 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Consult other institution See table 20 note 1 1 1 1 2 0 0 5
Other 21 1 0 0 0 1 23
Total 458 51 28 8 8 2 555

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

Costs

The cost to administer the Government of Canada’s privacy program decreased by 2.7 percent to $39.9 million in 2016-17, with the average cost per closed request increasing by 3.8 percent.

Cost of Privacy Act operations: 2015-16 and 2016-17
Description of costs Amount
2015-16 2016-17
Cost of operations See table 21 note 1 $40,997,073.00 $39,904,408.00
Requests closed 70,079 65,713
Average cost per closed request See table 21 note 2 $585.01 $607.26
Pages processed 8,372,722 8,213,923
Average cost per page processed $4.90 $4.86

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

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) See table 22 note 1 Paragraph 8(2)(m) See table 22 note 2 Total
5,699 181 5,880

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

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 18
Notations attached 58
Total 76

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
Number of PIAs completed See table 23 note 1 94

Table 23 Notes

Table 23 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 23 note 1 referrer

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
Number of new institution-specific PIBs registered 8
Number of times standard PIBs were registered against by government institutions See table 24 note 1 55
Number of central PIBs registered 1
Total number of new PIBs registered 64
Number of government institutions registering new PIBs 15

Table 24 Notes

Table 24 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 24 note 1 referrer

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 1,576,479
Requests closed 1,555,066
Figure 11: Disposition of Closed Privacy Act requests since 1983
Pie chart. 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 43.7%
Disclosed in part 37.4%
Unable to process 17.8%
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 See Footnote 10,” “transferred See Footnote 11,” “abandoned See Footnote 12” and “requests that could not be processed See 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 43.71% 679,671
Disclosed in part 37.38% 581,318
All exempted 0.97% 15,084
All excluded 0.04% 653
No records exist 3.81% 59,197
Abandoned 5.40% 84,035
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.08% 1,255
Transferred 2.07% 32,188
Requests that could not be processed 6.54% 101,665
Total 100.00% 1,555,066
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 61.0% 948,166
31 to 60 days 17.9% 278,198
61 days or more 21.1% 328,702
Total 100.0% 1,555,066
Cost of Privacy Act operations since 1983
Description of cost of operations Amount
Requests closed 1,555,066
Cost of operations See table 25 note 1 $542,087,273.12
Average cost per closed request See table 25 note 2 $348.59

Table 25 Notes

Table 25 Note 1

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

Return to table 25 note 1 referrer

Table 25 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 25 note 2 referrer

Figure 12: Cost of operations regarding the Access to Information Act vs. the Privacy Act since 1983
Pie chart. 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 $866,934,870.70
Privacy Act costs $542,087,273.12

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2017,
ISSN: 2561-3545

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