Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Report for the 2019 to 2020 Fiscal Year

Openness, transparency and accountability are guiding principles of the Government of Canada.

The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act both came into effect on July 1, 1983.

Paragraph 70(1)(d) 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.

This statistical report presents statistical information about the Government of Canada’s access to information and privacy programs globally across all federal institutions subject to the two Acts for the period of April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020. It also presents cumulative data from July 1, 1983, to March 31, 2020.

In addition, each institution subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act tables an individual annual report in Parliament on the administration of each Act in their institution. These reports can be found on the institutions’ websites.

Eight institutions received the majority of access to information requests and personal information requests across the government. A separate report with additional statistical information about the performance of these institutions will be provided in early in 2021.

The complete statistical dataset for 2019-2020 will be  available in open format on the Government of Canada’s Open Data Portal.

On this page

Access to Information Act statistics for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year

Requests under the Access to Information Act

A total of 156,222 Access to Information (ATI) requests were received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, an overall increase of 26.6 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. There was also a total of 25,916 ATI requests that were outstanding from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, an overall decrease of 5.3 percent from the outstanding requests of the previous fiscal year.

Of the 182,138 ATI requests that were either received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year or outstanding from the previous fiscal year, 82 percent were closed. This is a slight decrease from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year: of the 150,792 ATI requests received in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year or outstanding from the previous fiscal year, 83 percent were closed.
Table 1 shows the number of ATI requests received, closed and carried over for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 1: ATI requests received, closed and carried over, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
ATI Requests Number of requests
Outstanding from 2018 to 2019 reporting periodtable 1 note a 25,916
Received during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 156,222
Total 182,138
Closed during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 149,570
Carried over to 2020 to 2021 reporting period 32,568

Table 1 Notes

Table 1 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the statistical data for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the statistical data for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year regarding the number of requests left outstanding at the end of the 2018 to 2019 reporting period.

Return to table 1 note a referrer

Figure 1 shows the number of ATI requests received, closed and carried over from fiscal year 2018 to 2019 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020

Figure 1: ATI requests received, closed and carried over by all government institutions, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
ATI requests received, closed and carried over by all government institutions, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 1 - Text version
Figure 1: ATI requests received, closed and carried over by all government institutions, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Outstanding from previous reporting period 27,371 25,916
Received during reporting period 123,421 156,222
Closed during reporting period 125,060 149,570
Carried over to next reporting period 25,732 32,568

Five government institutions received 86.2 percent of the 156,222 requests received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 2 shows the proportion of ATI requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 2: proportion of ATI requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
proportion of ATI requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 2 - Text version
Figure 2: proportion of ATI requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada 74.8%
Canada Border Services Agency 5.3%
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2.9%
Canada Revenue Agency 1.8%
Library and Archives of Canada 1.4%
Other institutions 13.8%

Table 2 shows the number of pages processed under the Access to Information Act by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 2: pages processed under the Access to Information Act by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Rank Name of institution Number of requests received Requests received as percentage Number of pages processedtable 2 note a
1 Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada 116,928 74.8 7,787,738
2 Canada Border Services Agency 8,223 5.3  1,160,704
3 Royal Canadian Mounted Police 4,512 2.9  1,186,062
4 Canada Revenue Agency 2,864 1.8  1,953,575
5 Library and Archives of Canada 2,131 1.4  289,974
Other institutions 21,564 13.8 20,222,239
Total 156,222 100 32,600,292

Table 2 Notes

Table 2 Note 1

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

Return to table 2 note a referrer

Table 3 shows the sources of ATI requests made in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 3: sources of received ATI requests, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Source Number of requests Percentage of requests
Business (private sector)  81,182 52.0
Public  43,715 28.0
Media  6,886 4.4
Organizationtable 3 note a 7,669 4.9
Academia  5,674 3.6
Decline to identifytable 3 note b  11,096 7.1
Total 156,222 100

Table 3 Notes

Table 3 Note 1

The category “organization” includes, 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 a 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 requester did not select any of the available categories when submitting a hard-copy application.

Return to table 3 note b referrer

Government-wide, business (private sector) accounted for 52.0 percent of ATI requests received, and the public accounted for 28.0 percent of ATI requests received.

Figure 3 shows the sources of ATI requests received, for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 3: sources of received ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
sources of received ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 3 - Text version
Figure 3: sources of received ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Source 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Business 48.0% 52.0%
Public 29.7% 28.0%
Media 7.0% 4.4%
Organization 4.5% 4.9%
Academia 3.1% 3.6%
Decline to identify 7.7% 7.1%

In June 2019, the Access to Information Act was amended to enable institutions to seek the Information Commissioner’s approval to decline to act on requests that are vexatious, made in bad faith, or an abuse of the right of access. In the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, across the federal government, institutions sought the Information Commissioner’s approval to decline to act on six requests.

Table 4 shows the outcome of these proposals to the Information Commissioner to decline to act on an ATI request on the basis that the request is vexatious, made in bad faith, or an abuse of the right of access.

Table 4: proposals to decline to act, approved or declined by the Information Commissioner, and carried over, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Decline to act on vexatious, bad faith or abuse of right of access requests Number of requests
Outstanding from 2018 to 2019 reporting period 0
Sent during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 6
Total 6
Approved by the Information Commissioner during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 1
Declined by the Information Commissioner during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 4
Carried over to the 2020 to 2021 reporting period 1

Timeliness

Of the 149,570 ATI requests closed in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 67.4 percent were closed within legislated timelines, including extensions. This is a decrease of 5.7 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 5 shows ATI requests closed within the legislated timeline, including extensions, for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 5: status of closed ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Closed within legislated timeline, including extensions 73.1 67.4 91,402 100,827
Closed beyond legislated timeline, including extensions 26.9 32.6 33,658 48,743
Total 100 100 125,060 149,570

The percentage of ATI requests closed within legislated timelines has decreased by 18.5 percent over the last five fiscal years, from 85.9 percent in the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to 67.4 percent in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. 

Figure 4 shows ATI requests closed within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 4: ATI requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
ATI requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 4 - Text version
Figure 4: ATI requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Closed within legislated timeline, including extensions 85.9% 80.7% 76.2% 73.1% 67.4%
Closed beyond legislated timeline, including extensions 14.1% 19.3% 23.8% 26.9% 32.6%

Another way to examine performance is to consider the number of institutions that meet the performance standard for ATI requests, which is to respond to 90 percent of requests within legislated timelines, including extensions. Of the 138 institutions that closed ATI requests in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 84 institutions met this standard, closing at least 90 percent of requests within legislated timelines. 54 institutions did not meet this standard, principally due to workload pressures within the organization. Of the 45 institutions that did not close any requests in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 42 institutions did not receive any requests and 3 institutions received requests.

Table 6 shows the number of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 6: number of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Number of institutions 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Number of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of requests within legislated timelines 85 90 85 74 84
Number of institutions that closed fewer than 90 percent of requests within legislated timelines 68 64 55 59 54
Number of institutions that did not close any requests 22 22 41 48 45
Total 175 176 181 181 183

Figure 5 shows the percentage of reporting institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 5: percentage of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
percentage of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 5 - Text version
Figure 5: percentage of institutions that closed at least 90 percent of ATI requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Percentage of institutions that met the standard  55.6% 58.4% 60.7% 55.6% 60.9%
Percentage of institutions that did not meet the standard 44.4% 41.6% 39.3% 44.4% 39.1%

Table 7 shows the disposition of ATI requests, and the time required to close these requests, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 7: disposition and time required to close ATI requests, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure timeTable 7 note a
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
All disclosed  1,495  19,520  10,106  4,343  766  579  251  37,060
Disclosed in part  1,395  41,400  28,400  12,705  3,882  3,926  2,880  94,588
All exempted  159  267  116  127  44  59  69  841
All excluded  115  87  43  57  23  10  8  343
No records exist  1,541  3,121  1,072  460  113  80  96  6,483
Request transferred  367  34  1  3  3 0   0    408
Request abandonedTable 7 note b  5,461  1,296  1,044  330  153  182  1,116  9,582
Neither confirmed nor deniedTable 7 note c  97  100  20  20  4  6  17  264
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commissioner  0    0    0    1  0   0   0    1
Total number of requests  10,630  65,825  40,802  18,046  4,988  4,842  4,437  149,570
Total as percentage 7.1 44.0 27.3 12.1 3.3 3.2 3.0 100

Table 7 Notes

Table 7 Note 1

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

Return to Table 7 note a referrer

Table 7 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 7 note b referrer

Table 7 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 7 note c referrer

Figure 6 shows the time required to close ATI requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Figure 6: Time required to close ATI requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Time required to close ATI requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 6 - Text version
Figure 6: Time required to close ATI requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
0 to 30 days 64.1% 64.5% 55.4% 55.8% 51.1%
31 to 60 days 21.3% 18.0% 22.6% 24.6% 27.3%
61 to 120 days 7.5% 9.5% 11.1% 8.0% 12.1%
121 days or more 7.1% 8.0% 10.9% 11.7% 9.5%

Table 8 shows the principal reason that ATI requests were closed beyond the legislated timeline for fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 8: Principal reason that ATI requests were closed beyond the legislated timeline for fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Principal reason Total number of requests closed beyond the legislated timeline including extensions
Workload 46,283
External consultation 736
Internal consultation 461
OtherTable 8 note a 1,263
Total 48,743

Table 8 Notes

Table 8 Note 1

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

Return to Table 8 note a referrer

Note: Requests that were neither closed in the initial 30-day legislated timeline nor within the timeframe covered by an extension.

Of the 48,743 ATI requests closed beyond the legislated timeline, 89.9 percent were past the timeline with no extension taken. This is an increase of 4.5 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 9 shows the number of ATI requests that were closed beyond the legislated timeline in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by number of days past the timeline.

Table 9: number of days past deadline for ATI requests closed beyond the legislated timeline including extensions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Number of days past legislated timeline Number of requests past legislated timeline where no extension was taken Number of requests past legislated timeline where an extension was taken Total requests closed beyond the legislated timeline including extensions Total as percentage
1 to 15 days 24,150 1,417 25,567 52.5
16 to 30 days 3,206 401 3,607 7.4
31 to 60 days 4,484 461 4,945 10.1
61 to 120 days 4,375 551 4,926 10.1
121 to 180 days 2,154 362 2,516 5.2
181 to 365 days 2,839 606 3,445 7.1
More than 365 days 2,591 1,146 3,737 7.7
Total 43,799 4,944 48,743 100

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 88 percent of closed ATI requests. This is an increase of 4 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 10 shows the disposition of closed ATI requests for fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 10: disposition of closed ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
All disclosed  27.0 24.8  33,709 37,060
Disclosed in part  57.1 63.2  71,353 94,588
All exempted  0.7 0.6  925 841
All excluded  0.4 0.2  483 343
No records exist  5.3 4.3  6,590 6,483
Request transferred  0.4 0.3  486 408
Request abandoned  9.0 6.4  11,243 9,582
Neither confirmed nor denied  0.2 0.2  271 264
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commissioner N/A 0.0 N/A 1
Total 100 100  125,060 149,570

Figure 7 shows the disposition of closed ATI requests in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Figure 7: disposition of closed ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
disposition of closed ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 7 - Text version
Figure 7: disposition of closed ATI requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2018-19 2019-20
All disclosed 27.0% 24.8%
Disclosed in part 57.1% 63.2%
All exempted 0.7% 0.6%
All excluded 0.4% 0.2%
No records exist 5.3% 4.3%
Request transferred 0.4% 0.3%
Request abandoned 9.0% 6.4%
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.2% 0.2%
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commisioner 0.0% 0.0%

Complexity

In the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, government institutions processed about 32.6 million pages for closed ATI requests, an increase of about 17 million pages over the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. The increase is largely attributable to one institution closing three ATI requests on the same subject involving nearly 15 million pages in total.

Government institutions undertook consultations with parties outside the federal government in 6.4 percent of all closed ATI requests. This is a decrease of 2 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 11 shows the number of relevant pages processed and disclosed in response to ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 11: relevant pages processed and disclosed in response to ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requestsTable 11 note a
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Total 15,553,195 32,600,292Table 11 note b 10,791,635   13,271,901 117,713 142,678

Table 11 Notes

Table 11 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 11 note a referrer

Table 11 Note 2

The number of pages increased significantly from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year due to one institution processing three requests on the same subject involving nearly 15 million pages in total.

Return to Table 11 note b referrer

Figure 8 shows the number of pages processed in response to closed ATI requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Figure 8: number of pages processed in response to closed ATI requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
number of pages processed in response to closed ATI requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 8 - Text version
Figure 8: number of pages processed in response to closed ATI requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Total number of pages processed 9,025,729 16,047,246 27,535,336 15,553,195 32,600,292

Note: The number of pages processed rose significantly in the 2017 to 2018 fiscal year due to 1 request of approximately 14.8 million pages. The number of pages once again rose significantly in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year due to one institution closing three requests on the same subject involving nearly 15 million pages in total.

Table 12 shows the number of complex ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by disposition.

Table 12: complex ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by disposition
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Othertable 12 note 1 Total
All disclosed  1,410  3  36  326  1,775
Disclosed in part  7,577  6  378  1,042  9,003
All exempted  100  1  22  27  150
All excluded  146 0    14  9  169
Request abandoned  279  7  17  101  404
Neither confirmed nor denied  6 0    3  6  15
Total  9,518  17  470  1,511  11,516

Table 12 Notes

Table 12 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, and instances in which the records are in a language other than English or French.

Return to Table 12 note 1 referrer

Extensions

49.3 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. 19.1 percent of all extensions taken for closed requests were for 30 days or less; 93.3 percent were for 120 days or less.

Table 13 shows the number of ATI requests that were closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 where extensions were invoked, by length of the extension.

Table 13: ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 with reasons for and length of extensions
Length of extensionsTable 13 note a 9(1)(a) - Interference with operations 9(1)(b) - Consultation 9(1)(c) - Third-party notice Total
Section 69Table 13 note b OtherTable 13 note c
30 days or less  2,879  59  1,023  113  4,074
31 to 60 days  3,243  174  4,271  1,824  9,512
61 to 120 days  3,795  534  1,676  290  6,295
121 to 180 days  274  120  379  56  829
181 to 365 days  241  36  141  32  450
365 days or more  74  10  55  13  152
Total 10,506 933 7,545 2,328  21,312

Table 13 Notes

Table 13 Note 1

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

Return to Table 13 note a referrer

Table 13 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 13 note b referrer

Table 13 Note 3

“Other” 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 13 note c referrer

Consultations

The number of ATI requests for consultation between federal government institutions in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year increased by 5.1 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. The number of pages to review decreased by 16.2 percent.

Table 14 shows the number of ATI requests for consultation in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020 between government institutions and the number of pages reviewed in connection with those requests.

Table 14: number of ATI requests for consultation and number of pages reviewed in connection with those requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Consultations Number of requests for consultations Number of pages to review
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Received during reporting period 9,692 10,187 480,689 402,943
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 1,434 1,759 271,251 227,884
Total 11,126 11,946 751,940 630,827
Closed during the reporting period 9,356 9,980 490,453 435,841
Pending at the end of the reporting period 1,766 1,966 261,416 195,021

Table 15 shows, by recommendation, the number of ATI requests for consultation that were closed within particular timeframes in fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 15: requests for consultation between government institutions closed within particular timeframes in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by recommendation
Recommendation Number of days required to close consultation requests
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
Disclose entirely 2,494 1,689 981 410 90 49 10 5,723
Disclose in part 602 833 840 520 154 152 110 3,211
Exempt entirely 58 37 31 18 5 1 2 152
Exclude entirely 16 9 2 5 1 0 1 34
Consult other institutionTable 15 note a 61 47 45 25 3 3 5 189
Other 297 78 73 109 34 62 18 671
Total 3,528 2,693 1,972 1,087 287 267 146 9,980

Table 15 Notes

Table 15 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 15 note a referrer

ExemptionsFootnote 1

The tables that follow show the number of ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 in which specific exemptions under the Access to Information Act were invoked.

Table 16a: exemptions for information obtained in confidence
Provision Number of requests
13(1)(a) 7,845
13(1)(b) 246
13(1)(c) 660
13(1)(d) 248
13(1)(e) 33
Table 16b: exemptions for federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
14 546
14(a) 356
14(b) 151
Table 16c: exemptions for international affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
15(1) 12,550
15(1) International Affairs 1,160
15(1) Defence 418
15(1) Subversive activities 2,055
Table 16d: exemptions for law enforcement and investigations
Provision Number of requests
16(1)(a)(i)  1,025
16(1)(a)(ii)  413
16(1)(a)(iii)  454
16(1)(b)  845
16(1)(c)  26,229
16(1)(d)  62
16(2)  1,463
16(2)(a)  21
16(2)(b)  12
16(2)(c)  2,723
16(3)  2
16.1(1)(a)  9
16.1(1)(b)  15
16.1(1)(c)  24
16.1(1)(d)  22
16.2(1)  10
16.3  8
16.31 0  
16.4(1)(a)  1
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 16
16.6 8
Table 16e: exemptions for safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
17 33,990
Table 16f: exemptions for economic interests of Canada
Provision Number of requests
18(a) 145
18(b) 454
18(c) 11
18(d) 229
18.1(1)(a) 34
18.1(1)(b) 35
18.1(1)(c) 9
18.1(1)(d) 8
Table 16g: exemptions for personal information
Provision Number of requests
19(1) 62,033
Table 16h: exemptions for third-party information
Provision Number of requests
20(1)(a) 114
20(1)(b) 2,384
20(1)(b.1) 73
20(1)(c) 2,077
20(1)(d) 523
20.1 6
20.2 0
20.4 0
Table 16i: exemptions for operations of government
Provision Number of requests
21(1)(a) 3,516
21(1)(b) 3,988
21(1)(c) 855
21(1)(d) 390
Table 16j: exemptions for testing procedures, tests and audits
Provision Number of requests
22 221
22.1(1) 41
Table 16k: exemptions for solicitor-client privilege
Provision Number of requests
23 2,040
Table 16l: exemptions for protected information (patents and trade-marks)
Provision Number of requests
23.1 18
Table 16m: exemptions for statutory prohibitions
Provision Number of requests
24(1) 2,205
Table 16n: exemptions for information to be published
Provision Number of requests
26 112

ExclusionsFootnote 2

The tables that follow show the number of ATI requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 in which specific exclusions under the Access to Information Act were invoked.

Table 17a: exclusions for non-application (Act does not apply to certain materials)
Provision Number of requests
68(a) 453
68(b) 19
68(c) 14
68.1 64
68.2(a) 1
68.2(b) 0
Table 17b: exclusions for Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of requests
69(1) 78
69(1)(a) 201
69(1)(b) 12
69(1)(c) 67
69(1)(d) 140
69(1)(e) 312
69(1)(f) 45
69(1)(g) re (a) 1,017
69(1)(g) re (b) 27
69(1)(g) re (c) 636
69(1)(g) re (d) 304
69(1)(g) re (e) 528
69(1)(g) re (f) 291
Table 17c: exclusions for certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of requests
69.1(1) 3

Fees and costs

The annual cost to administer the Government of Canada’s access to information program increased by 5.4 percent to about $78.5 million in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, with the average cost per closed request declining by 11.9 percent to about $525 per request.

Table 18 shows the fees and costs associated with administering the Access to Information Act for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 18: fees and costs of Access to Information Act operations, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Description Amount
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Cost of institutions’ operationsTable 18 note a $73,373,705 $77,469,191
Cost of ATIP Online Request ServiceTable 18 noteb $1,079,623 $987,919
Total $74,453,328 $78,457,110
Requests closed 125,060 149,570
Average cost per closed requestTable 18 note c $595.34 $524.55
Pages processed 15,553,195 32,600,292
Average cost per processed page $4.79 $2.41
Number of requests in which fees were collected 116,443 148,791
Fees collected $582,473 $743,955
Average fees collected per request $5.00 $5.00
Number of requests in which fees were waived or refunded 7,093 5,584
Fees waived or refunded $40,968 $35,319
Average fees waived or refunded per request $5.78 $6.33

Table 18 Notes

Table 18 Note 1

Cost of operations includes salaries, overtime, goods and services, contracts and all other expenses specific to access to information and privacy offices. Cost of operations does not include costs associated with time spent by business areas searching for and reviewing records.

Return to Table 18 note a referrer

Table 18 Note 2

The 2018 to 2019 fiscal year is the first year in which the cost of the ATIP Online Request Service (AORS) is reported.

Return to Table 18 note b referrer

Table 18 Note 3

This calculation uses the cost of operations in the reporting period to obtain the average cost per closed request. Because the cost of operations also includes the processing costs of some requests that will be carried over into the next reporting period, the average cost per closed request is an approximation.

Return to Table 18 note c 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.

Informal requests include:

  • formal requests that are discontinued in favour of providing information informally, in consultation with the requester
  • requests where the information sought is already publicly available online
  • requests where the response involves re-releasing information that was made available in response to previously closed formal requests, summaries of which are found online.

Informal requests do not include:

  • responses to parliamentary questions or media enquiries
  • requests made internally within a government institution to share information between sectors

Unlike in the case of formal requests:

  • fees cannot be charged for informal requests
  • there are no deadlines for responding to informal requests
  • requesters have no statutory right of complaint to the Information Commissioner

In the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 58.4 percent of informal requests were closed within 30 days. This is a decrease of 1.2 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 19 shows the time required to close informal requests in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 19: time required to close informal requests, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Closure time
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
Number of requests 7,541 3,135 2,245 1,641 547 1,255 1,930 18,294

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.

Table 20 shows the number of ATI requests received and closed since 1983.

Table 20: number of ATI requests since 1983
ATI Requests Number of requests
Requests received 1,259,174
Requests closed 1,221,486

Figure 9 shows the disposition of ATI requests closed since 1983.

Figure 9: disposition of closed ATI requests since 1983
disposition of closed Access to Information Act requests since 1983. Text version below:
Figure 9 - Text version
Figure 9: disposition of closed ATI requests since 1983
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage
All disclosed 26%
Disclosed in part 53%
Unable to process 17%
Withheld entirely 2%
Other 2%
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commissioner 0%

Notes:

  • “Unable to process” includes the categories “no records exist,”Footnote 3 “abandoned”Footnote 4 and “requests that could not be processed.”Footnote 5
  • “Withheld entirely” includes the categories “all exempted” and “all excluded.”
  • “Other” includes the categories “transferred,” “neither confirmed nor denied” and “treated informally.”
  • In June 2019, the Access to Information Act was amended to enable institutions to seek the Information Commissioner’s approval to decline to act on requests that are vexatious, made in bad faith, or an abuse of the right of access. In the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, one request was closed with the disposition ‘Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commissioner’.

Table 21 shows the disposition of ATI requests closed since 1983.

Table 21: disposition of closed ATI requests since 1983
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
Disclosed in part 52.5  641,779
All disclosed 25.7  313,794
All exempted 1.5  18,151
All excluded 0.5  6,449
No records exist 4.6  56,653
Abandoned 5.1  61,958
Transferred 1.0  12,147
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.1  1,791
Decline to act with the approval of the Information Commissioner 0 1
Treated informallytable 21 note a 1.2  14,057
Requests that could not be processedtable 21 note a 7.8  94,706
Total 100 1,221,486

Table 21 Notes

Table 21 Note 1

The number of requests has remained constant since the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year.

Return to table 21 note a referrer

Table 22 shows ATI requests closed since 1983, by the number of days required to close them.

Table 22: time required to close ATI requests since 1983
Closure time (including requests for which extensions were required) Requests as percentage Number of requests
0 to 30 days 58.7 716,540
31 to 60 days 20.6 251,480
61 days or more 20.8 253,466
Total 100 1,221,486

Table 23 shows the fees and costs associated with administering the Access to Information Act since 1983.

Table 23: fees and costs of Access to Information Act since 1983
Descriptions Amount
Requests closed 1,221,486
Cost of operationsTable 23 note a $1,349,384,830.17
Average cost per closed requestTable 23 note b $1,104.71
Fees collected $9,116,879.02
Average fees collected per closed requestTable 23 note c $7.46
Fees waived or refunded $3,727,433.94
Average fees waived or refunded per closed requestTable 23 note d $3.05

Table 23 Notes

Table 23 Note 1

This amount is adjusted to the rate of inflation. Before the 2018 to 2019 reporting period, the cost of operations was not adjusted to the rate of inflation.

Return to Table 23 note a referrer

Table 23 Note 2

This calculation uses the cost of operations to obtain the average cost per closed request since 1983. Because the cost of operations also included the processing costs of some requests that were carried over to the next reporting period, the average cost per closed request is an approximation.

Return to Table 23 note b referrer

Table 23 Note 3

This calculation uses the 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 23 note c referrer

Table 23 Note 4

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

Return to Table 23 note d referrer

Figure 10 shows ATI requests received and cost of Access to Information Act operations, from the 1983 to 1984 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 10: ATI requests received and cost of Access to Information Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
ATI requests received and cost of Access to Information Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 10 - Text version
Figure 10: ATI requests received and cost of Access to Information Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Year Cost of operations (inflation adjusted) ATI requests received
1983-1984 $5.95   1,513
1984-1985 $8.14   2,229
1985-1986 $9.08   3,606
1986-1987 $8.31   5,450
1987-1988 $7.91   7,301
1988-1989 $10.42   8,853
1989-1990 $12.78 10,234
1990-1991 $11.84 11,093
1991-1992 $10.66 10,387
1992-1993 $15.54   9,729
1993-1994 $13.73 10,422
1994-1995 $15.75 12,861
1995-1996 $18.25 13,124
1996-1997 $18.89 12,476
1997-1998 $18.24 12,206
1998-1999 $21.43 14,340
1999-2000 $25.17 19,294
2000-2001 $30.87 20,789
2001-2002 $32.39 21,265
2002-2003 $34.48 22,977
2003-2004 $32.18 25,234
2004-2005 $34.47 25,207
2005-2006 $41.17 27,269
2006-2007 $42.36 29,182
2007-2008 $53.86 31,487
2008-2009 $57.94 34,041
2009-2010 $56.37 35,154
2010-2011 $61.79 41,641
2011-2012 $67.11 43,194
2012-2013 $65.98 55,145
2013-2014 $69.05 60,105
2014-2015 $73.10 68,193
2015-2016 $69.54 75,387
2016-2017 $68.95 91,880
2017-2018 $73.29 106,255
2018-2019 $74.90 123,421
2019-2020 $77.47 156,222

Note: cost of operations in million dollars

Privacy Act statistics for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year

Requests under the Privacy Act

A total of 78,541 personal information requests under the Privacy Act were received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, an increase of 5.3 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. There was also a total of 27,346 personal information requests that were outstanding from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year, an overall decrease of 1 percent from the outstanding requests from the previous fiscal year.

Of the 105,887 personal information requests that were either received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year or outstanding from the previous period, 70.1 percent were closed. This is a decrease of 3.2 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year: of the 102,137 requests that were either received in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year or outstanding from the previous period, 73.3 percent were closed.

Table 24 shows the number of personal information requests received, closed and carried over for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 24: personal information requests received, closed and carried over, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Personal information requests Number of requests
Outstanding from 2018 to 2019 reporting periodtable 24 note a 27,346
Received during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 78,541
Total 105,887
Closed during 2019 to 2020 reporting period 74,230
Carried over to 2020 to 2021 reporting period 31,657

Table 24 Notes

Table 24 Note 1

Due to administrative errors, there are small inconsistencies between the statistical data for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the statistical data for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year regarding the number of requests left outstanding at the end of the 2018 to 2019 reporting period.

Return to table 24 note a referrer

Figure 11 shows the number of personal information requests received, closed and carried over from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year to 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 11: personal information requests received, closed and carried over, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
personal information requests received, closed and carried over, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 11 - Text version
Figure 11: personal information requests received, closed and carried over, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Outstanding from previous reporting period 27,571 27,346
Received during reporting period 74,566 78,541
Closed during reporting period 74,874 74,230
Carried over to next reporting period 27,263 31,657

Five government institutions received 75.1 percent of the 78,541 personal information requests received in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 12 shows the proportion of personal informationrequests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 12: proportion of personal information requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
proportion of personal information requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 12 - Text version
Figure 12: proportion of personal information requests received by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada 20.3%
Employment and Social Development Canada 19.6%
Canada Border Services Agency 18.0%
Correctional Service of Canada 9.0%
National Defence 8.2%
Other institutions 24.9%

Table 25 shows the number of pages processed under the Privacy Act by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 25: pages processed under the Privacy Act by the five institutions that received the highest volume of requests, and all other government institutions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Rank Name of institution Number of requests received Requests received as percentage Pages processedtable 25 note a
1 Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada 15,963 20.3  984,436
2 Employment and Social Development Canada 15,405 19.6  1,259,755
3 Canada Border Services Agency 14,102 18.0  547,551
4 Correctional Service of Canada 7,063 9.0  446,986
5 National Defence 6,475 8.2  2,381,632
Other institutions 19,533 24.9 3,661,773
Total 78,541 100 9,282,133

Table 25 Notes

Table 25 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 25 note a referrer

Timeliness

Of the 74,230 personal information requests closed in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 78.9 percent were closed within the legislated timeline, including extensions. This is an increase of 2.3 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 26 shows the number of personal information requests closed within legislated timelines, including extensions, in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 26: status of closed personal information requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Status of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Closed within legislated timeline, including extensions 76.6 78.9 57,334 58,599
Closed beyond legislated timeline, including extensions 23.4 21.1 17,540 15,631
Total 100 100 74,874 74,230

The percentage of personal requests closed within legislated timelines decreased by 1.5 percent over the last five fiscal years, from 80.4 percent in the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to 78.9 percent in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 13 shows personal information requests closed within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 13: personal information requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
personal information requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 13 - Text version
Figure 13: personal information requests closed within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Closed within legislated timeline, including extensions 80.4% 80.4% 74.7% 76.6% 78.9%
Closed beyond legislated timeline, including extensions 19.6% 19.6% 25.3% 23.4% 21.1%

Another way to examine performance is to consider the number of institutions that meet the performance standard for personal information requests, which is to respond to 85 percent of requests within legislated timelines. Of the 99 institutions that closed personal information requests in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 75 institutions met this standard, closing at least 85 percent of requests within legislated timelines. 24 institutions did not meet this standard, principally due to workload pressures within the organization. Of the 84 institutions that did not close any personal information requests in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, 83 institutions did not receive any requests and 1 institution received requests.

Table 27 shows the number of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 27: number of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Number of institutions 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Number of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of requests within legislated timelines 78 70 74 66 75
Number of institutions that closed fewer than 85 percent of requests within legislated timelines 20 22 19 19 24
Number of institutions that did not close any requests 77 84 88 96 84
Total 175 176 181 181 183

Figure 14 shows the percentage of reporting institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 14: percentage of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
percentage of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 14 - Text version
Figure 14: percentage of institutions that closed at least 85 percent of personal information requests within legislated timelines, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Based on 85% standard 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Percentage of institutions that met the standard  79.6% 76.1% 79.6% 77.6% 75.8%
Percentage of institutions that did not meet the standard 20.4% 23.9% 20.4% 22.4% 24.2%

Table 28 shows the disposition of personal informationrequests, and the time required to close these requests, for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 28: disposition and time required to close personal information requests, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Disposition of requests (including requests for which extensions were required) Closure timeTable 28 note a
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
All disclosed  3,372  11,998  3,658  602  194  279  301  20,404
Disclosed in part  5,301  15,389  7,774  2,324  824  1,548  2,397  35,557
All exempted  138  139  57  29  16  22  25  426
All excluded  1  2  1  1  1 0   0    6
No records exist  5,064  1,800  613  249  95  181  224  8,226
Request abandonedTable 28 note b  5,263  1,383  1,035  292  73  111  1,133  9,290
Neither confirmed nor deniedTable 28 note c  146  137  16  10  1  3  8  321
Total  19,285  30,848  13,154  3,507  1,204  2,144  4,088  74,230
Total percentage 26.0 41.6 17.7 4.7 1.6 2.9 5.5 100

Table 28 Notes

Table 28 Note 1

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

Return to Table 28 note a referrer

Table 28 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 28 note b referrer

Table 28 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 28 note c referrer

Figure 15 shows the time required to close personal informationrequests from the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year

Figure 15: Time required to close personal information requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Time required to close personal information requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 15 - Text version
Figure 15: Time required to close personal information requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
0 to 30 days 65.8% 72.3% 63.5% 67.0% 67.5%
31 to 60 days 19.1% 13.7% 16.9% 15.6% 17.7%
61 to 120 days 4.4% 4.8% 5.2% 3.6% 4.7%
121 days or more 10.7% 9.2% 14.4% 13.8% 10.0%

Table 29 shows the principal reason that personal information requests were closed beyond the legislated timeline for the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year

Table 29: Principal reason that personal information requests were closed beyond legislated timeline for fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Principal reason Total number of requests closed beyond the legislated timelines including extensions
Workload 14,078
External consultation 148
Internal consultation 215
OtherTable 29 note a 1,190
Total 15,631

Table 29 Notes

Table 29 Note 1

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

Return to Table 29 note a referrer

Note: requests that were closed neither in the initial 30-day legislated timeframe nor within the timeframe covered by an extension.

Of the 15,631 personal information requests closed beyond the legislated timeline, 73.4 percent were past the timeline with no extension taken. This is a decrease of 11.9 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 30 shows the number of personal informationrequests that were closed beyond the legislated timeline in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, by number of days past the timeline.

Table 30: number of days past deadline for personal information requests closed beyond the legislated timeline including extensions, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Number of days past legislated timeline Number of requests past legislated timeline where no extension was taken Number of requests past legislated timeline where an extension was taken Total requests closed beyond the legislated timeline including extensions Total as percentage
1 to 15 days 4,589 547 5,136  32.9
16 to 30 days 570 305 875  5.6
31 to 60 days 926 445 1,371  8.8
61 to 120 days 753 511 1,264  8.1
121 to 180 days 832 307 1,139  7.3
181 to 365 days 1,793 586 2,379  15.2
More than 365 days 2,016 1,451 3,467  22.2
Total 11,479 4,152 15,631 100

Disposition

Records were disclosed either in full or in part for 75.4 percent of closed personal information requests. This is an increase of 1.2 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year.

Table 31 shows the disposition of closed personal information requests for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 31: disposition of closed personal information requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
All disclosed 27.5  27.5 20,567  20,404
Disclosed in part 46.8  47.9 35,021  35,557
All exempted 0.5  0.6 397  426
All excluded 0.0  0.0 14  6
No records exist 11.8  11.1 8,812  8,226
Request abandoned 13.0  12.5 9,712  9,290
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.5  0.4 351  321
Total 100  100 74,874  74,230

Figure 16 shows the disposition of closed personal information requests for the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 16: disposition of closed personal information requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
disposition of closed personal information requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020 . Text version below:
Figure 16 - Text version
Figure 16: disposition of closed personal information requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2018-19 % 2019-20 %
All disclosed 27.5% 27.5%
Disclosed in part 46.8% 47.9%
All exempted 0.5% 0.6%
All excluded 0.0% 0.0%
No records exist 11.8% 11.1%
Request abandoned 13.0% 12.5%
Neither confirmed nor denied 0.5% 0.4%

Complexity

In the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, government institutions processed about 9.3 million pages for closed personal information requests.

Government institutions undertook consultations with parties outside the federal government in 1.5 percent of all closed personal information requests.

Table 32 shows the number of relevant pages processed and disclosed in response to personal information requests closed in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year and the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, by manner of disposition.

Table 32: relevant pages processed and disclosed in response to personal information requests closed in fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by disposition
Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requestsTable 32 note a
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Total 9,338,210 9,282,133 7,724,545 7,530,019 65,711 66,004

Table 32 Notes

Table 32 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” or “neither confirmed nor denied.”

Return to Table 32 note a referrer

Note: 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.

Figure 17 shows the number of pages processed in response to closed personal information requests from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Figure 17: number of pages processed in response to closed personal information requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
number of pages processed in response to closed personal information requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 17 - Text version
Figure 17: number of pages processed in response to closed personal information requests, from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
  2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
 Number of pages processed  8,372,722 8,213,923 9,123,874 9,338,210 9,282,133
Table 33: complex personal information requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by disposition
Disposition Consultation required Legal advice sought Interwoven informationTable 33 note a OtherTable 33 note b Total
All disclosed 182 1 56 254 493
Disclosed in part 850 29 9,404 118 10,401
All exempted 9 4 6 1 20
All excluded 0 0 0 1 1
Request abandoned 35 4 105 55 199
Neither confirmed nor denied 24 3 2 0 29
Total 1,100 41 9,573 429 11,143

Table 33 Notes

Table 33 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 33 note a referrer

Table 33 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, and instances in which the records are in a language other than English or French.

Return to Table 33 note b referrer

Consultations

The number of requests for consultations between federal government institutions decreased by 4.9 percent from the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year. The number of pages to review decreased by 1.5 percent.

Table 34 shows the number of personal information requests for consultation in the 2018 to 2019 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year between government institutions and the number of pages reviewed in connection with those requests.

Table 34: number of requests for consultation and number of pages reviewed in connection with those requests, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Consultations Number of requests for consultation Number of pages to review
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020 2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Received during reporting period 392 378 18,774 16,869
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 38 31 36,307 37,386
Total 430 409 55,081 54,255
Closed during the reporting period 399 382 18,126 50,091
Pending at the end of the reporting period 31 27 36,955 4,164

Table 35 shows, by recommendation, the number of personal information requests for consultation that were closed within particular timeframes in fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 35: requests for consultation between government institutions closed within particular timeframes in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, by recommendation
Recommendation Number of days required to close consultation requests
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
Disclose entirely 90 38 12 1 0 0 1 142
Disclose in part 103 45 36 9 2 2 2 199
Exempt entirely 9 4 3 5 1 0 0 22
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institutionTable 35 note a 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 4
Other 7 1 4 0 0 0 3 15
Total 211 90 55 15 3 2 6 382

Table 35 Notes

Table 35 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 35 note a referrer

Extensions

92.8 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.

Table 36 shows the number of personal informationrequests that were closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 where extensions were invoked, by length of extension.

Table 36: personal information requests closed in fiscal year 2019 to 2020 with reasons for and length of extension
Length of extensionTable 36 note a 15(a)(i): Interference with operations 15(a)(ii): Consultation 15(b): Translation purposes or conversion Total
Further review required to determine exemptions Large volume of pages Large volume of requests Documents are difficult to obtain Cabinet Confidence (Section 70)Table 36 note b External Internal
1 to 15 days 4 3 7 2 0 1 6 0 23
16 to 30 days 105 798 10,530 94 2 270 596 19 12,414
31 days or greater N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 1 1
Total 109 801 10,537 96 2 271 602 20 12,438

Table 36 Notes

Table 36 Note 1

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

Return to Table 36 note a referrer

Table 36 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 36 note b referrer

ExemptionsFootnote 6

The tables that follow show the number of personal information requests closed in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year in which specific exemptions under the Privacy Act were invoked.

Table 37a: exemptions for exempt banks
Provision Number of requests
18(2) 232
Table 37b: exemptions for personal information obtained in confidence
Provision Number of requests
19(1)(a) 1,220
19(1)(b) 34
19(1)(c) 912
19(1)(d) 610
19(1)(e) 0
19(1)(f) 0
Table 37c: exemptions for federal-provincial affairs
Provision Number of requests
20 5
Table 37d: exemptions for international affairs and defence
Provision Number of requests
21 5,745
Table 37e: exemptions for law enforcement and investigation
Provision Number of requests
22(1)(a)(i) 1,569
22(1)(a)(ii) 399
22(1)(a)(iii) 20
22(1)(b) 5,599
22(1)(c) 592
22(2) 3
22.1 16
22.2 1
22.3 8
22.4 0
Table 37f: exemptions for security clearances
Provision Number of requests
23(a) 6
23(b) 0
Table 37g: exemptions for individuals sentenced for an offence
Provision Number of requests
24(a) 4
24(b) 168
Table 37h: exemptions for safety of individuals
Provision Number of requests
25 811
Table 37i: exemptions for information about another individual
Provision Number of requests
26 29,074
Table 37j: exemptions for solicitor-client privilege
Provision Number of requests
27 958
27.1 2
Table 37k: exemptions for medical records
Provision Number of requests
28 25

ExclusionsFootnote 7

The tables that follow show the number of personal information requests closed in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year in which specific exclusions under the Privacy Act were invoked.

Table 38a: exclusions for non-application (Act does not apply to certain materials)
Provision Number of requests
69(1)(a) 16
69(1)(b) 0
Table 38b: exclusions for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Provision Number of requests
69.1 1
Table 38c: exclusions for Cabinet confidences
Provision Number of requests
70(1) 1
70(1)(a) 2
70(1)(b) 0
70(1)(c) 1
70(1)(d) 0
70(1)(e) 1
70(1)(f) 0
Table 38d: exclusions for certificate under the Canada Evidence Act
Provision Number of requests
70.1 0

Costs

The cost to administer the Government of Canada’s privacy program increased by 13.6 percent to about $55 million in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year, with the average cost per closed request increasing by 14.6 percent to about $741 per request.

Table 39 shows the costs associated with administering the Privacy Act for fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020.

Table 39: cost of Privacy Act operations, fiscal year 2018 to 2019 and fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Description of costs Amount
2018 to 2019 2019 to 2020
Cost of institutions’ operationsTable 39 note a $47,995,307 $54,607,942
Cost of ATIP Online Request ServiceTable 39 note b $419,853 $384,191
Total $48,415,160 $54,992,133
Requests closed 74,874 74,230
Average cost per closed requestTable 39 note c $646.62 $740.83
Pages processed 9,338,210 9,282,133
Average cost per page processed $5.18 $5.92

Table 39 Notes

Table 39 Note 1

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

Return to Table 39 note a referrer

Table 39 Note 2

The 2018 to 2019 fiscal year is the first year in which the cost of the ATIP Online Request Service (AORS) is reported.

Return to Table 39 note b referrer

Table 39 Note 3

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

Return to Table 39 note c referrer

Disclosures under subsections 8(2) and 8(5) 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. Subsection 8(5) of the Act requires institutions to notify the Privacy Commissioner in writing of any disclosure of personal information made pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(m) of the Act. These notifications should be done prior to the disclosure where reasonably practical or in any other cases forthwith.

Table 40 shows the number of disclosures made under paragraphs 8(2)(e) and 8(2)(m) and subsection 8(5) of the Privacy Act in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 40: disclosures under subsections 8(2) and 8(5) of the Privacy Act, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Paragraph 8(2)(e)Table 40 note a Paragraph 8(2)(m)Table 40 note b Subsection 8(5) Total
5,686 230 180 6,096

Table 40 Notes

Table 40 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 40 note a referrer

Table 40 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 40 note b 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.

Table 41 shows the number of requests for correction of personal information made to government institutions in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 41: requests for correction of personal information, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Disposition of received requests Amount
Requests for correction accepted 21
Notations attached 42
Total 63

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. 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.

Table 42 shows the number of PIAs completed by government institutions in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 42: number of privacy impact assessments completed, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Privacy impact assessments Amount
Number of PIAs completedTable 42 note a 77

Table 42 Notes

Table 42 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 42 note a 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 relating to the institution-specific programs of a 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.

Table 43 shows the number of new PIBs, newly registered PIBs and the number of institutions registering new PIBs.

Table 43: new Personal information banks registered, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Personal information banks Amount
Number of new institution-specific PIBs registered 5
Number of times government institutions registered against standard PIBsTable 43 note a 20
Number of central PIBs registered 0
Total number of new PIBs registered 25
Number of government institutions registering new PIBs 5

Table 43 Notes

Table 43 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 43 note a referrer

Table 44 shows the number of PIBs active, created, terminated and modified during the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 44: Personal Information Banks active, created, terminated and modified, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Personal information banks Amount
Active 2,250
Created 46
Terminated 15
Modified 110

Material Privacy Breaches

A breach is deemed a “material privacy breach” if the breach involves sensitive personal information and could reasonably be expected to cause serious injury or harm to the individual and/or involves a large number of affected individuals. Section 4 of the Guidelines for Privacy Breaches requires institutions to establish a process for the mandatory reporting of material privacy breaches to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS).

Table 45 shows the number of material privacy breaches reported to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) in the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Table 45: Material Privacy Breaches, fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Material Privacy Breaches Amount
Number of material privacy breaches reported to TBS 326
Number of material privacy breaches reported to OPC 326Table 45 note a

Table 45 Notes

Table 45 Note 1

This total reflects a correction to the statistical data submitted by Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs. Their statistical reports erroneously reported material privacy breaches for the reporting period of 2019-2020. Neither institutions had any reported material privacy breaches for this reporting period. The Annual Reports for these institutions tabled in Parliament include this error.

Return to Table 45 note a 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.

Table 46 shows the number ofpersonal informationrequests received and closed since 1983.

Table 46: number of personal information requests since 1983
Requests under the Privacy Act Number of requests
Requests received 1,797,553
Requests closed 1,765,744

Figure 18 shows the disposition of personal information requests closed since 1983.

Figure 18: disposition of closed personal information requests since 1983
disposition of closed personal information requests since 1983. Text version below:
Figure 18 - Text version
Figure 18: disposition of closed personal information requests since 1983
Disposition of closed Privacy Act requests since 1983 2019-20
All disclosed 41.9%
Disclosed in part 38.4%
Unable to process 18.6%
Withheld entirely 1.0%
Other 0.1%

Notes:

  • “Unable to process” includes the categories “no records exist,&rdquoFootnote 8 “transferred,”Footnote 9 “abandoned&rdquoFootnote 10 and “requests that could not be processed.”Footnote 11
  • “Withheld entirely” includes categories “all exempted” and “all excluded.”
  • “Other” consists of the category “neither confirmed nor denied.”

Table 47 shows the disposition of personal information requests closed since 1983.

Table 47: disposition of closed personal information requests since 1983
Disposition of closed requests Requests as percentage Number of requests
All disclosed  41.9  739,336
Disclosed in part  38.4  678,853
All exempted  0.9  16,177
All excluded  0.0  680
No records exist  4.8  84,328
Abandoned  6.2  110,189
Neither confirmed nor denied  0.1  2,328
TransferredTable 47 note a 1.8 32,188
Requests that could not be processedTable 47 note a 5.8 101,665
Total 100 1,765,744

Table 47 Notes

Table 47 Note 1

The number of requests has remained constant since the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year.

Return to Table 47 note a referrer

Table 48 shows the costs associated with administering the Privacy Act since 1983.

Table 48: cost of Privacy Act operations since 1983
Description of cost of operations Amount
Requests closed 1,765,744
Cost of operationsTable 48 note a $851,521,667.32
Average cost per closed requestTable 48 note b $482.25

Table 48 Notes

Table 48 Note 1

This amount is adjusted to the rate of inflation. Before the 2018 to 2019 reporting period, the cost of operations was not adjusted to the rate of inflation.

Return to Table 48 note a referrer

Table 48 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 48 note b referrer

Figure 19 shows personal information requests received and cost of Privacy Act operations, from the 1983 to 1984 fiscal year to the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year.

Figure 19: personal information requests received and cost of Privacy Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
personal information requests received and cost of Privacy Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020. Text version below:
Figure 19 - Text version
Figure 19: personal information requests received and cost of Privacy Act operations, from fiscal year 1983 to 1984 to fiscal year 2019 to 2020
Year Cost of operations (inflation adjusted) Personal information requests received
1983-1984 $8.86 17,109
1984-1985 $10.81 27,547
1985-1986 $10.26 38,606
1986-1987 $9.84 42,292
1987-1988 $7.87 49,626
1988-1989 $11.17 59,631
1989-1990 $12.23 55,505
1990-1991 $11.83 48,430
1991-1992 $10.66 49,732
1992-1993 $12.40 42,713
1993-1994 $10.73 39,060
1994-1995 $13.85 42,147
1995-1996 $13.77 43,137
1996-1997 $14.28 47,532
1997-1998 $14.01 43,648
1998-1999 $13.77 41,498
1999-2000 $14.20 41,585
2000-2001 $26.92 104,133
2001-2002 $20.38 36,137
2002-2003 $20.14 37,863
2003-2004 $18.37 54,377
2004-2005 $17.11 36,316
2005-2006 $27.21 36,090
2006-2007 $22.89 34,559
2007-2008 $23.93 39,134
2008-2009 $28.41 36,454
2009-2010 $29.42 41,621
2010-2011 $32.43 48,775
2011-2012 $35.21 50,524
2012-2013 $36.55 55,355
2013-2014 $36.91 56,263
2014-2015 $40.19 67,399
2015-2016 $44.12 70,833
2016-2017 $42.48 70,490
2017-2018 $44.70 67,967
2018-2019 $49.00 74,566
2019-2020 $54.61 78,541

Note: cost of operations in million dollars

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