Annual Report to Parliament 2012-2013
Access to Information Act

PART II
REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

REQUESTS UNDER THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

I. Statistical Report

The annual statistical report for fiscal year 2012-2013 is included at the end of this chapter.

II. Interpretation of the Statistical Report

Overview of Requests Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

Fiscal Year

# of Requests
Received

# of Requests
Completed

# of Pages
Processed

# of Pages
Released

2012-2013

343

323

114,650

34,368

2011-2012

331

313

73,640

29,977

Requests Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

343 requests were received during the period under review. In addition, 73 requests were carried forward from previous years, for a total of 416 requests. The number of requests received represents an increase of 30 requests from last year's total of 386 requests (331 plus 55 requests carried forward).

The media was the largest group of requesters. Of the 343 requests received during this reporting period, 133 (39%) requests came from this group, followed by the public (112), and business (61).

Sources

[ Description ]

Request Completed Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

323 requests were completed during the period under review. 93 requests were carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2013-2014.

Of 323 requests, 255 (79%) were completed within the allowable time limits.

There was an increase in the number of pages reviewed from those of the previous year (64%). Responding to formal access to information requests involved the review of 114,745 pages, of which 34,368 pages were partially or entirely disclosed.

Disposition of Completed Requests

Of the 323 requests completed in fiscal year 2012-2013:

  • Seven were transferred to other federal institutions that possessed a greater interest in the subject matter of the request;
  • Seventy-two could not be processed as no relevant records existed under the control of the Department of Justice;
  • Fifty-two requests were abandoned by the applicant. In the majority of cases, the applicant did not pursue the requests, either by withdrawing them or by not providing the clarification requested; and,
  • One was treated informally, with the consent of the applicant.

The remaining 191 requests were released in the following manner:

  • Thirty-nine were fully disclosed (20%);
  • One hundred and thirty-two were partially disclosed (69%);
  • Nineteen were exempted in their entirety (10%); and,
  • One was excluded in its entirety (1%)
Dispositions

[ Description ]

Completion Time and Extensions

Out of the 323 requests completed in 2012-2013, 233 (72%) were processed within 30 days or less.

Processing Timeframes

[ Description ]

In some instances the Department found it necessary to seek extensions to the prescribed time limits due to the large number of records (23 times) and/or to consult with other government institutions (53 times); or third parties (5 times).

Exemptions Invoked

The Department invoked exemptions under the Access to Information Act for 171 requests. Section 21 was invoked most often (111 times), exempting information relating to the internal decision-making processes of government, followed by Section 19 (106 times), exempting personal information, and Section 23 (89 times), exempting information relating to solicitor-client privilege. For further details regarding the exemptions invoked, please refer to the Statistical Report at the end of this chapter.

Exclusions Cited

Exclusions were invoked a total of 3 times pursuant to section 68 [information available to for purchase by the public] and 54 times pursuant to section 69 [confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada] of the Access to Information Act.

Method of Access

A total of 141 requesters wanted copies and 30 requesters chose to receive information on CD-ROM at no extra charge, thereby eliminating the costs for photocopies as well as reducing the ATIP Office's paper footprint.

Fees and Fee Waivers

During the reporting period, $1,490.00 was collected in application fees, and fees were waived in 25 instances ($125.00). Search fees were collected in two instances for a total of $3,285.00 and were waived or refunded in four other instances ($2,750.00). An additional $5,105.60 was waived in production fees (138 instances).

The policy of the Department of Justice is to waive the reproduction fees under 200 sheets (double-sided = 400 actual pages in total). However, when more than 200 sheets are released, fees are calculated for the total number of sheets. For extensive or complex requests, search and preparation fees are charged as determined on a case-by-case basis. The Department offers the requesters the possibility of receiving the release package on CD-ROM at no charge, an option which tends to be more widely accepted.

During the reporting period, the Department of Justice waived all reproduction fees.

III. Consultations by other Federal Institutions or Departments

Overview of Consultations Requests Received from Other Government Institutions

Fiscal Year

# of Requests Received

# of Pages Received

# of Requests Completed

# of Pages Reviewed

2012-2013

1,343

71,139

1,293

56,128

2011-2012

1,340

68,527

1,295

61,305

During the period under review, the Department received 1,343 requests from other government institutions and organizations requesting our recommendations regarding records originating, pertaining to, or of interest to the Department of Justice. In addition, 166 consultations outstanding from previous years were carried over, for a total of 1,509. In total, the Department was asked to review 89,221 pages of information for these consultations.

Of the 1,509 consultations active throughout the reporting period, 1,293 were completed during the 2012-2013 fiscal year and the remaining amount, 216, were carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2013-2014.

Due to recently-reported statistics, the Treasury Board Secretariat has recognized that the Department of Justice processes more consultations than any other federal institutions.

IV. Other Types of Requests

Informal Requests

The policy of the ATIP Office is to process requests on an informal basis when records have already been released in response to previous ATIA requests or where the Department has already informally released documents elsewhere. As a result of the online posting of summaries of completed ATIA requests, there was a significant increase of informal requests for previously released information.

The ATIP Office processed 144 informal requests, as compared to 40 requests in the previous year. This number does not include the numerous emails or telephone calls from potential applicants who were responded to informally or were redirected.

Advice

The ATIP Office also acted as a resource for Department officials as well as those from other government institutions, offering advice and guidance on the provisions of the legislation. The Office was consulted on the disclosure and collection of information on a wide range of issues.

V. Complaints, Investigations and Federal Court Cases

Complaints Filed

24 complaints were filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) during the reporting period. The reasons for the complaints were as follows:

  • 9 related to time limits;
  • 10 concerned the exemption or exclusion of information; and,
  • 5 concerned the handling of the request;
Completed Investigations

Complaint findings are defined as follows:

  • Well founded: The OIC found evidence of the complainant's rights being denied under the Access to Information Act.
  • Not well founded: As a result of the investigation, the OIC found that the institution applied the Access to Information Act correctly.
  • Discontinued: The complaint was withdrawn or abandoned by the complainant before allegations were fully investigated.
  • Settled: The complaint was settled to the satisfaction of all parties without the need for the OIC to make a finding.

A total of 26 investigations were completed during the reporting period, some of which had been carried forward from previous years. Out of this 26, one complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of the OIC, 13 were well founded, eight were not well founded, and four were discontinued by the complainant.

At the end of the fiscal year, 46 were still under investigation by the OIC.

Review by the Federal Court of Canada

Two new applications were filed before the Federal Court pursuant to section 41 of the Access to Information Act.

One new application was filed before the Federal Court of Appeal during this fiscal year.

Date modified: