Annual Report to Parliament 2014-2015
Privacy Act

Part I: General Information

Department of Justice

To better understand the context within which the PA 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.

Privacy 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 PA. The Coordinator is also responsible for related policies, systems, and procedures stemming from the PA.

The responsibility for the coordination of new data collection at the Department of Justice also lies with the ATIP Coordinator. This ensures compliance with the PA and, as necessary, the creation of new Personal Information Banks or Program Records.

The activities of the ATIP Office include:

  • Processing requests under the PA;
  • Acting as spokesperson for the Department in dealings with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information and Privacy Commissioners and other government departments and agencies regarding the application of the PA as they relate to the Department;
  • 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 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 PA by the Department;
  • Promoting awareness of the PA to ensure departmental respect of the obligations imposed on the Government;
  • Monitoring departmental compliance with the PA, its regulations and relevant procedures and policies; and,
  • Participating in and advising on the preparation of Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA).

Organization for the Implementation of Privacy 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. See Part III: Delegation Order.

Within the ATIP Office, four employees were dedicated on a full-time basis to the administration of the PA and related functions.

Officials of the Department were directly involved in the application of the PA 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 the Processing Chart.

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.

Processing Chart

Processing Chart

Description

Administrative Issues

Salary and Administrative Expenditures

A total of four person-years were utilized in the administration of the PA. The salary expenditures amounted to $302,923.

The administrative expenditures amounted to $15,452 which includes professional services contracts.

These costs do not include resources expended by the Department’s other sectors.

Accomplishments

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 2014‑2015, the ATIP Office has accomplished the following:

  • To reduce internal processing timelines and paper consumption, the ATIP Office has implemented the use of SharePoint, a Web application platform, for the transfer of information with the Offices of Primary Interest where possible;
  • To better serve Canadians, the Department of Justice joined the Request and Pay Online pilot service. Canadians can submit requests under the PA through an online channel;
  • To ensure that the consultation process remains as efficient as possible, the Department has developed guidelines for the ATIP community that clarify the ATIP Office’s role in requests that have been received by other federal government institutions pursuant to the PA. Additionally, the Office has updated and communicated its service standards to assist the community in estimating the turnaround time for consultations with the Department. The timeframes continue to be reviewed periodically to ensure that they remain current; 
  • Since the majority of consultations with the ATIP Office involves the application of solicitor-client privilege, the Office has continued to provide training to the ATIP community that focuses on the application of solicitor-client privilege;
  • The Department of Justice continues to post its Annual Reports to Parliament to the Department’s Internet website, thereby improving communications with requesters and to promote transparency;
  • Continued to update its internal procedures in order to process Privacy requests more efficiently and 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 PA.

Formal awareness information sessions are also provided to other sectors within the Department. Particular emphasis is given to those aspects of the Act that are directly related to the employees’ areas of responsibility. This fiscal year, these sessions were provided to the following groups:

  • Policies and Planning Division, Policy Sector (10 employees);
  • Public Safety Canada, Legal Services (1 employee).

The Centre for Information and Privacy Law (CIPL) also offered training to 386 Departmental Employees and clients:

  • Access to Information Act and Privacy Act in the Government Context (20 employees);
  • Cabinet Confidences (4 sessions for a total of 139 employees);
  • ATIP Exemptions for State-to-State Communications and Solicitor-Client Privileged Records (74 employees);
  • Video Link Training Session (Ontario Regional Office – 33 employees);
  • Sections 4 to 8 of the Privacy Act (30 participants);
  • Protection of personal information applicable to Canadian federal institutions (20 participants);
  • Privacy Act considerations relating to the disclosure of disciplinary reports to other government institutions (20 employees); and,
  • Privacy Act considerations in relation to Employment and Labour (50 employees).

In addition, formal training was offered through the Department of Justice’s Learning Program, for an additional 231 employees:

  • ATIP Fundamentals  (2 sessions for a total of 47 employees);
  • CIPL Retreat (12 employees);
  • CIPL Training Day (116 employees); and,
  • Fundamentals of Solicitor-Client Privilege in the Government Context (2 sessions for a total of 56 employees).

ATIP training is also part of the recommended courses under the values and ethic 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.

Furthermore, a key priority in 2013-2014 was to increase outreach activities for the wider ATIP community. As previously indicated, as a complement to updating and communicating its service standards regarding consultations, the ATIP Office, in partnership with the CIPL, began offering a workshop that assists other practitioners in understanding solicitor-client privilege in the federal government context, when and how to apply the relevant exemptions to a record, and when to consult the Department for additional input. This training was developed to share expertise for the purpose of increasing consistency within the community as well as to encourage best practices that would assist in making the consultation process between the Department and other institutions more efficient. These bilingual sessions continued to be provided for this reporting period:

  • Library and Archives Canada (11 participants);
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada (24 participants);
  • Parks Canada (5 participants); and,
  • Canadian Heritage (9 participants).

Moreover, ATIP employees regularly participate in collective awareness sessions with the ATIP Counsel to review recent jurisprudence and case law related to the PA. 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.

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 PA 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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