Annual Report to Parliament 2016-2017
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 2016-17 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
2016-2017 676 652 107,983 41,462
2015-2016 574 550 162,221 78,472
2014-2015 520 551 156,091 60,011
Request Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

676 requests were received during the period under review. In addition, 106 requests were carried forward from previous years, for a total of 782 requests. The number of requests received represents an increase of 102 requests from last year’s total of 574 requests.

The public was the largest group of requesters. Of 676 requests received during this reporting period, 213 (31%) requests came from the public, followed by 161 (24%) requesters who have declined to identify the source, and 127 (19%) from the media.

Number of Requests by Source

Number of Requests by Source described below

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 (6%), business (16%), media (19%), organizations (4%), the public (31%) and decline to identify (24%).

Requests Completed Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

652 requests were completed during the period under review. 130 requests were carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2017-18.

Of 652 requests, 98% were completed within the allowable time limits.

There was a decrease in the number of pages released from those of the previous year (47%). Responding to formal access to information requests involved the review of 107,983, of which 41,462 pages were partially or entirely disclosed.

Disposition of Completed Requests

Of the 652 requests completed in fiscal year 2016-17:

  • 85 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 153 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 363 requests were released in the following manner:

  • 65 were fully disclosed (18%);
  • 278 were partially disclosed (77%);
  • 12 were exempted in their entirety (3%); and
  • 8 were excluded in their entirety (2%).

Disposition

Disposition of Completed Requests described below

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 (77%), All Exempted (3%) and All Excluded (2%), and Neither Confirmed nor Denied (0%).

Completion Time and Extensions

Out of 652 requests completed in 2016-17, 455 (70%) were processed within 30 days or less.

Completion Time

Completion Time described below

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 (32%), 16 to 30 days (38%), 31 to 60 days (9%), 61 to 120 days (14%), 121 to 180 days (4%), 181 to 365 days (1%) and 366 days or more (2%).

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 (114 times) and/or to consult with other government institutions (125 times) or third parties (1 time).

Exemptions Invoked

The Department invoked exemptions under the ATIA for 290 requests. Section 21, which exempts information relating to the internal decision-making processes of government was invoked most often (328 times). This is followed by section 23 (191 times), which exempts information relating to solicitor-client privilege and, section 19 (166 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 13 times pursuant to section 68 (published material or material available for purchase by the public) and 165 times pursuant to section 69 (confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada) of the ATIA.

Method of Access

A total of 73 requesters wanted paper copies and 270 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 $3,080.00 was collected in application fees, and fees were waived in 36 instances ($180.00).

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.

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
2016-2017 460 19,566 471 26,575
2015-2016 530 17,227 538 31,347
2014-2015 587 22,803 613 38,564

During the period under review, the Department received 460 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, 55 consultations outstanding from previous years were carried over, for a total of 515. In total the Department reviewed 26,575 pages for these consultations.

Of the 515 consultations active throughout the reporting period, 471 were completed during the 2016-17 fiscal year (26,575 pages) and the remaining amount, 44, was carried forward to be completed in fiscal year 2017-18.

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 559 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

44 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:

  • Four related to the extension;
  • Three related to delay;
  • 25 concerned the exemption or exclusion of information; and
  • 12 concerned the handling of the request in general.

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.
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 33 investigations were completed during the reporting period, some of which had been carried forward from previous years. Out of these 33, four complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the OIC, nine were well-founded resolved, four were not well-founded, and 16 were discontinued by the complainant. No key issues were raised as a result of these complaints.

Review by the Federal Court of Canada

No application was filed before the Federal Court pursuant to section 41 of the ATIA during the reporting period.

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