Annual Report to Parliament 2015-2016
Access to Information Act

Part II: Report on the Access to Information Act

Requests Under the Access to Information Act

Statistical Report

The Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 is included at Part III of this report.

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
2015-2016 574 550 162,221 78,472
2014-2015 520 551 156,091 60,011
2013-2014 548 528 189,383 46,737
Request Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

574 requests were received during the period under review. In addition, 82 requests were carried forward from previous years, for a total of 656 requests. The number of requests received represents an increase of 54 requests from last year’s total of 520 requests.

The public was the largest group of requesters. Of 574 requests received during this reporting period, 187 (33%) requests came from the public, followed by 132 (23%) from the media, and 115 (20%) requesters declined to identify the source.

Number of Requests by Source

Number of Requests by Source

Number of Requests by Source - Text version

This pie graph illustrates the percentage of total requests that were received during the reporting period from the following sources: academia (7%), business (11%), media (23%), organizations (6%), the public (33%) and decline to identify (20%).

Requests Completed Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

550 requests were completed during the period under review. 106 requests were carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2016-2017.

Of 550 requests, 95% were completed within the allowable time limits.

There was an increase in the number of pages released from those of the previous year (23%). Responding to formal access to information requests involved the review of 162,221 pages, of which 78,472 pages were partially or entirely disclosed.

Disposition of Completed Requests

Of the 550 requests completed in fiscal year 2015-2016:

  • 64 were transferred to other federal institutions that possessed a greater interest in the subject of the request;
  • No relevant records existed under the control of the Department of Justice for 143 requests; and
  • 51 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 that was requested by the ATIP Office.

The remaining 292 requests were released in the following manner:

  • 1 the Department could neither confirm nor deny the existence of information (0%)
  • 53 were fully disclosed (18%);
  • 213 were partially disclosed (73%);
  • 19 were exempted in their entirety (7%); and
  • 6 were excluded in their entirety (2%).

Disposition

Disposition of Completed Requests

Disposition - Text version

This pie graph illustrates the percentage of requests that were completed during the reporting period with the following dispositions: All Disclosed (18%), Disclosed in Part (73%), All Exempted (7%) and All Excluded (2%), and Neither Confirmed nor Denied (0%).

Completion Time and Extensions

Out of 550 requests completed in 2015-2016, 412 (75%) were processed within 30 days or less.

Completion Time

Completion Time

Completion Time - Text version

This pie graph illustrates the percentage of requests that were completed during the reporting period within the following timeframes: 1 to 15 days (39%), 16 to 30 days (36%), 31 to 60 days (7%), 61 to 120 days (9%), 121 to 180 days (3%), 181 to 365 days (2%) and 366 days or more (4%).

The ATIP Office routinely monitors the processing time for access to information requests. This routine monitoring is done through various statistical reports (weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly) and meetings with ATIP staff to ensure that requests are being processed in a timely manner. All ATIP staff, portfolio contacts, and senior management are made aware of the performance metrics.

In some instances, the Department found it necessary to seek extensions to the prescribed time limits due to the large number of records (81 times) and/or to consult with other government institutions (91 times) or third parties (1 time).

Exemptions Invoked

The Department invoked exemptions under the ATIA for 232 requests. Section 21, which exempts information relating to the internal decision-making processes of government was invoked most often (242 times). This is followed by section 23 (143 times), which exempts information relating to solicitor-client privilege and, section 19 (138 times), which exempts personal information. For further details regarding all the exemptions invoked, please refer to the Statistical Report at Part III of this report.

Exclusions Cited

Exclusions were invoked a total of 10 times pursuant to section 68 (published material or material available for purchase by the public) and 79 times pursuant to section 69 (confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada) of the ATIA.

Method of Access

A total of 125 requesters wanted paper copies and 141 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 $2,565.00 was collected in application fees, and fees were waived in 37 instances ($185.00). Search fees were collected in the amount of $1,535.00 and were waived in two instances ($470.00) and an additional $1,533.00 was waived in reproduction fees (66 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. 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.

Consultations by other Federal Institutions or Departments

Overview of Consultations Requests Received from Other Government Institutions and Organizations
Fiscal Year # of Requests Received # Pages Received # of Requests Completed # of Pages Reviewed
2015-2016 530 17,227 538 31,347
2014-2015 587 22,803 613 38,564
2013-2014 919 40,681 1,046 57,145

During the period under review, the Department received 530 requests from other government institutions and organizations requesting recommendations regarding records originating from, pertaining to, or of interest to the Department of Justice. In addition, 63 consultations outstanding from previous years were carried over, for a total of 593. In total the Department was asked to review 34,350 pages for these consultations.

Of the 593 consultations active throughout the reporting period, 538 were completed during the 2015-2016 fiscal year (31,347 pages) and the remaining amount, 55, was carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2016-2017.

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 an increase of informal requests for previously released information.

The ATIP Office processed 205 informal requests. This number does not include the numerous emails or telephone calls from potential applicants who were responded to informally or were redirected to other institutions.

Advice

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

Complaints, Investigations and Federal Court Cases

Complaints Filed

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

  • Five (5) related to the extension;
  • One (1) related to fees;
  • 28 concerned the exemption or exclusion of information; and
  • Eight (8) concerned the handling of the request in general.

Completed Investigations

Complaint findings are defined as follows:

Well-founded, resolved
The institution took remedial action to the satisfaction of the OIC during the course of the investigation. The OIC did not need to provide a recommendation to the head of the institution.
Well-founded, resolved with recommendations
If the head of the institution accepted the OIC recommendations and remedial action was taken by the institution to the satisfaction of the OIC, the matter is considered resolved and no further action by the OIC is necessary;
Well founded, not resolved
If the head of the institution did not accept the recommendations of the OIC, or if the remedial action was not to the satisfaction of the OIC, the complainant will be informed that the matter is not resolved and the complainant, or the OIC with the complainant’s consent, can pursue the matter in Court where the matter relates to the refusal.
Not well-founded
As a result of the investigation, the OIC found that the institution applied the ATIA correctly.
Settled by agreement of the parties
The complaint was settled to the satisfaction of all parties without the need for the OIC to make a finding.
Discontinued
The complaint was withdrawn or abandoned by the complainant before allegations were fully investigated. In some cases, the complainant did not respond to the OIC’s request for representations within a reasonable time period, or cannot be located.

A total of 27 investigations were completed during the reporting period, some of which had been carried forward from previous years. Out of these 27, one (1) complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of the OIC, 16 were well founded, three (3) were not well-founded, and seven (7) were discontinued by the complainant. No key issues were raised as a result of these complaints.

Review by the Federal Court of Canada

One (1) application was filed before the Federal Court pursuant to section 41 of the ATIA during the reporting period.

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