Annual Report to Parliament 2010-2011

PART I - GENERAL INFORMATION

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

To better understand the context within which the Access to Information Act is administered, this section provides background information about the Department.

The Department of Justice has a dual mandate. This mandate derives from the dual role of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney General of Canada.

In support of the Minister of Justice, the Department is responsible for providing policy and program advice as well as direction through the development of the legal content of bills, regulations and guidelines. In support of the Attorney General, the Department is responsible for litigating civil cases by or on behalf of the Federal Crown and for providing legal advice to federal law enforcement agencies and other government departments.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES

The ATIP Coordinator is accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures in order to enable efficient processing of requests under the ATIA. The Coordinator is also responsible for related policies, systems and procedures stemming from the ATIA.

The activities of the ATIP Office include:

  • processing requests under the ATIA;

  • acting as spokesperson for the Department in dealings with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information Commissioner and other government departments and agencies regarding the application of the ATIA;

  • responding to consultation requests submitted by other federal institutions on Justice documents located in their files and on records that may be subject to solicitor-client privilege;

  • coordinating, reviewing and approving new entries and modifications to Info Source, an annual Government of Canada publication about its organization and information holdings;

  • preparing the Annual Report to Parliament and other statutory reports, as well as other materials that may be required by central agencies;

  • developing policies, procedures and guidelines for the orderly implementation of the ATIA by the Department;

  • promoting awareness of the ATIA to ensure departmental respect of the obligations imposed on the government; and

  • monitoring compliance with the ATIA, its regulations, and relevant procedures and policies.

ORGANIZATION FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES

The ATIP Coordinator has full authority delegated by the Minister for the administration of the Act, and is also referred to as Director. (Refer to page 18 for a copy of the delegation order.)

Within the ATIP Office, twenty-two (22) employees were dedicated on a full-time basis to the administration of the Access to Information Act and related functions.

Officials of the Department were directly involved in the application of the Act by making recommendations concerning the disclosure of records and ensuring compliance with the Act.

The stages for processing requests are set out in a chart found on the next page.

The Reading Room at Headquarters and those located in the Regional Offices across Canada make available to the public the current version of Info Source, as well as departmental publications and manuals.

PROCESSING CHART

Processing Chart

Description

ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES

Salary and Administrative Expenditures

A total of twenty-two (22) person-years were utilized in the administration of the Access to Information Act. The salary expenditures amounted to $1,482,816.22.

The administrative expenditures amounted to $81,476.37.

The statistical report outlining administrative and salary expenditures is included on page 16.

Accomplishments

The Department of Justice continues to strive to provide leadership and improve its performance in order to maintain the highest standards of service as outlined in the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the ATIP Office has:

  • improved its procedures by making use of current technological tools in order to gather, review and provide records more efficiently;

  • drafted guidelines outlining internal procedures for processing ATIA requests in order to formalize its best practices and ensure consistency within the office;

  • participated in the Community Development Initiative working and focus groups in order to assist the Treasury Board Secretariat in developing organizational models, job descriptions and competency profiles that will standardize work throughout the ATIP community;

  • continued to improve communications with requesters in accordance with the ten (10) principles of practice outlined on the Department's Internet website in order to better assist requestors and increase the transparency of the ATIA process;

  • continued to reduce paper consumption by printing double-sided as well as providing release packages electronically to requesters when appropriate;

  • continued to abide by its services standards set out in Memoranda of Understanding with several client-departments; and

  • continued to share its best practices with other government institutions.

Education and Training

ATIP officers regularly provide advice and informal training on the application of ATIP legislation to Departmental employees who must review relevant records requested under the ATIA. Formal awareness and information sessions are also provided to program areas within the Department. Particular emphasis is given to those aspects of the Act that are directly related to the employees' areas of responsibility.

This year the sessions were provided to the following groups, for a total of 183 employees:

  • The Department's Ontario Regional Office (2 sessions - 60 employees)

  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police Legal Services Unit (57 employees)

  • Ministerial Secretariat (17 employees)

  • Youth, Justice, Strategies and Law Reform (22 employees)

  • Information Management Branch's Management Team (6 employees)

  • Directors, Business Management (21 employees)

Formal training entitled "The Fundamentals of ATIP" is also offered through the Department of Justice's Learning Program in conjunction with the Information Law and Privacy Section. This year three (3) sessions were held for a total of 75 participants.

An e-orientation deck is also posted on the Department's intranet site for employees to consult.

Moreover, ATIP employees regularly participate in collective awareness sessions with the ATIP Counsel to review recent jurisprudence and case law related to ATIA. The ATIP Counsel participates in monthly ATIP Practice Group meetings during which information is exchanged and viable solutions are proposed. The Practice Group is open to all Departmental counsel, including those from Legal Services Units, and its mandate is to discuss questions such as the right of access to information or privacy issues.

Finally, ATIP employees participate in training sessions, conferences and seminars organized by the Treasury Board Secretariat or by the Canadian Access and Privacy Association (CAPA) on matters relating to both access and privacy. These exchanges provide for updates in the development of ATIP and upcoming trends in this area.

Date modified: