Annual Report to Parliament 2012-2013
Access to Information Act
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
To better understand the context within which the ATIA is administered, this section provides background information about the Department.
The Department of Justice has a dual mandate. This mandate stems 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 and direction through the development of the legal content of bills, regulations, and guidelines. In support of the Attorney General of Canada, 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.
Activities of the ATIP Office include:
- Processing requests under the ATIA;
- Acting a 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 Department of Justice documents located in their files and on records that may be subject to solicitor-client privilege;
- Coordinating, reviewing, approving, and publishing new entries and modifications to Info Source, an online Government of Canada resource that describes 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;
- Providing advice regarding the ATIA, as well as promoting awareness, to ensure departmental respect of the obligations imposed on the Government; and,
- Monitoring departmental compliance with the ATIA, its regulations, and relevant procedures and policies.
ORGANIZATION FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
The ATIP Coordinator, who is also referred to as the ATIP Director, has full authority delegated by the Minister for the administration of the Act. The Delegation Order can be found at page 28 of this report.
Within the ATIP Office, in proportion to the administration of the ATIA, 25 employees were dedicated on a full-time basis to the administration of the ATIA and related functions.
Officials of the Department were directly involved in the application of the ATIA by making recommendations concerning the disclosure of records and by ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Act.
The stages for processing requests are set out in a chart found on page 8.
The reading rooms at the Department of Justice headquarters and those located in the regional offices across Canada make available to the public the most recent published version of the Info Source, as well as departmental publications and manuals. Many of these publications can be found on the Department of Justice and the Treasury Board Secretariat's websites.
Salary and Administrative Expenditures
A total of 25 person-years were utilized in the administration of the ATIA. The salary expenditures amounted to $1,774,524.10.
The administrative expenditures amounted to $127,301.19.
These costs do not include resources expended by the Department's program areas to meet the requirements under the Act.
The Department of Justice continues to strive to provide leadership and improve its performance in order to maintain the highest standards of service. For fiscal year 2012-2013, the ATIP Office has:
- Continued to post its Annual Reports to Parliament as well as the summaries of completed requests to the Department's Internet website. It does this to improve communications with the requesters and to increase transparency, in accordance with the 10 principles of practice (see Appendix B) outlined on the ATIP Office's website, as well as with Treasury Board Secretariat's directives and policies;
- Revised its organizational structure in order to improve its performance and maintain a high standard of service;
- Continued to update its Administrative Procedures Manual as well create other documentation that outlines procedures for its employees when processing an ATIA request in order to formalize best practices and ensure consistency within the Office;
- Continued to update its internal procedures in order to process ATIA requests more efficiently;
- Continued to share its best practices with other government institutions; and,
- Continued to reduce paper consumption by printing double-sided, as well as providing release packages electronically to requesters when appropriate.
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 information sessions are also provided to program areas within the Department. Particular emphasis is placed on those aspects of the Act that are directly related to the employees' areas of responsibility. This year, these sessions were provided to the following groups, totalling 213 employees:
- Litigation Branch, Office of the Assistant Deputy Attorney General (2 employees)
- Family, Children and Youth Section (32 employees)
- Canada Revenue Agency, Legal Services (2 employees)
- Chief Financial Officer Branch - Finance Management Committee (31 employees)
- Chief Financial Officer Branch - JUS Finance Network (28 employees)
- Criminal Law Policy Sector (2 sessions - 29 employees each session)
- Programs Branch (40 employees)
- Human Rights Law Section (20 employees)
In addition, formal training was offered through the Department of Justice's Learning Program, for an additional 71 employees:
- The Fundamentals of ATIP (34 employees)
- What Justice Employees Need to Know About the Law (ATIP component) (37 employees)
ATIP training is also part of the recommended courses under the values and ethics component of the Department's Roadmap for new managers. An e-orientation deck is also posted on the Department's Intranet site for employee consultation.
To promote awareness, the ATIP Office also held information kiosks for new employees, as well as during the Right to Know Week and the Security Awareness Week.
Moreover, ATIP employees regularly participate in collective awareness sessions with the ATIP Counsel to review recent jurisprudence and case law related to the 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. The Department's Information Law and Privacy Section also held its annual seminar in which 104 Department of Justice legal counsels, paralegals, and members of the ATIP Office participated.
In addition to mentorship and partnership relationships, workshops and presentations are also regularly provided within the ATIP Office on various topics concerning the application of the Act and related policy and procedures. This allows ATIP employees to benefit from each other's respective levels of experience and knowledge.
Finally, ATIP employees participate in training sessions, conferences, and seminars organized by the Treasury Board Secretariat or by various associations on matters relating to both access and privacy. These exchanges provide updates for employees in the development of ATIP and upcoming trends in this area.
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