Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Access to Information Trends and Statistical Overview

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Highlights

  • Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) updated its Access to Information Policy to include the duty to assist and include internal procedures to address suspected obstructions of the right of access as well as its internal Access to Information Procedures Manual.
  • Training efforts increased substantially, including an awareness meeting and training session for the Regional Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Liaison Officers (RALOs), an Access to Information awareness session in the Calgary office and the implementation of pre-processing meetings to improve awareness and establish procedures for retrieval of records and providing advice.
  • In addition, the ATIP Unit reviewed and provided advice on 10 audit and evaluation reports and their related documents, as well as other reports, prior to information being posted to WD’s public web site.

Challenges

  • WD has identified no specific challenges in 2010–2011 pertaining to administering its obligations under the Access to Information Act.

2010-2011 Trends

  • WD has identified no specific trends in 2010-2011 pertaining to the formal requests received under the Access to Information Act.

Requests Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

In 2010–2011, WD received 18 requests for information under the Access to Information Act and one request carried forward from 2009-2010. The number of requests received in 2010-2011 is consistent with the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Sources of Formal Requests

The breakdown of the sources of requests received in 2010-2011 is as follows:

  • seven (39 percent) from the general public;
  • five (28 percent) from business;
  • three (17 percent) from other organizations, two of which were from a political party;
  • two (10.5 percent) from the media;
  • one (5.5 percent) from academia.

The accompanying chart shows the comparison of sources between 2010-2011 and 2009-2010. In 2009-2010, 72 percent of the requests were received from the general public, 17 percent from the media and 11 percent from other organizations, one of which was a political party.

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Text version (Link 1): Comparison of Requests by Source – 2010-2011 vs. 2009-209-2010

Chart depicting the comparison of requests by source – 2010-2011 vs. 2009-209-2010.

Disposition, Completion Times and Method of Access

In total, 19 access requests were completed during the reporting period; no requests were carried forward to 2011-2012 fiscal year. Of the requests, five were abandoned by the applicant and the department was unable to process one.

The breakdown of the disposition and completion times of the requests is as follows:

Disposition of Completed Requests 1–15 days 16–30 days 31–60 days 61–120 days Total
All information disclosed 2 4     6
Information disclosed in part   3 2 2 7
Request abandoned by applicant 4 1     5
Unable to process 1       1
Total 7 8 2 2 19

Only 13 requests required formal processing of records and copies of records were disclosed in whole or in part for all of these requests.

WD processed 1,004 pages of records responding to the requests, of which 908 pages were released in whole or in part. The balance was entirely withheld.

Extensions of Time Limits and Consultations

Section 9 of the Act provides for the extension of the statutory time limits if the request is for a large volume of records or necessitates a search through a large volume of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the department; also, if consultations are necessary.

Extension statistics for 2010–2011 break down as follows:

  • WD did not extend any request for the purposes of search or volume or records.
  • Four requests required extensions to complete necessary consultations.
  • Only one request required both third-party and other government department (OGD) consultations.
  • Two extensions of 30 days or less were taken for consultations with OGDs. One on these consultations was delayed due to sensitivities identified as a result of the consultation. This resulted in WD’s longest response time of 106 days.
  • Two 120-day extensions were taken to accommodate consultations with the Privy Council Office’s Cabinet Confidences Unit. Prompt responses, however, enabled WD to close both of the affected requests in under 65 days.

WD undertook consultations on seven requests during the 2010–2011 reporting period. In total, 14 federal department consultations and two Cabinet Confidences Unit consultations were required. In addition, WD undertook consultations with third parties on five requests, three of which were closed within the original 30-day timeframe and did not require extensions.

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Exemptions Invoked

Excluding requests that were abandoned or that WD was unable to process, the department closed 13 requests in 2010–2011. Of these, information was disclosed in whole on six and exemptions were applied pursuant to the Act on the other seven. If five different exemptions were applied to a request, one exemption under each relevant section would be reported for a total of five; however, the same exemption claimed several times in the same request is captured only once in the statistics.

WD’s exemption statistics are depicted in the chart below and identified in the annual statistical report (see page 10). Section 21(1) of the Act was the most utilized exemption during the 2010–2011 reporting period (it was applied to five requests) and two or more subsections of 21(1) were applied on three of these requests.

Text version (Link 2): Exemptions Invoked in 2010-2011

Chart depicting the exemptions WD invoked in 2010-2011

Further to the request for statistical information on exemptions applied under the Act in the additional reporting requirements attached to the “Report on the Access to Information Act,” WD did not invoke any of the exemptions during the 2010–2011 reporting period (see page 11).

Exclusions Cited

The Access to Information Act does not apply to certain materials such as published material pursuant to Section 68 or confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council pursuant to Section 69.

During the 2010–2011 reporting period, WD did not invoke Section 68, while Section 69 was invoked and applied as required on two access requests. If WD applied two different exclusions to a request, one exclusion under each relevant section would be reported for a total of two; however, the same exclusion claimed several times in the same request is captured in the statistics only once. WD invoked sections 69(1)(e) and 69(1)(g) once each.

Further to the request for statistical information on exclusions applied under the Act in the additional reporting requirements attached to the “Report on the Access to Information Act,” WD did not invoke any of the exclusions during the 2010–2011 reporting period (see page 11).

Other Government Department Consultations

WD was consulted by other federal departments on 22 occasions in 2010–2011, a 45-percent increase from 2009-2010. Consultations ranged in length (1–128 pages) and the department responded to all consultations in 15 days or less, recommending disclosure of all but three of these consultations.

Fees

Access to Information fees collected during the reporting period totalled $108. These fees include application fees for 18 requests and $38 for reproduction costs. During the same period, WD waived fees totalling of $107, including reproduction fees of under $25 as well as a $5 application fee refund.

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Operational Costs to Administer the Act

WD’s cost for administrating the Access to Information Act is estimated as follows:

ATIP Unit salaries, including a portion of the ATIP Coordinator’s and Deputy ATIP Coordinator’s salaries and 60 percent of the ATIP Officer’s salary $58,571
Administrative operation and maintenance costs, including training $15,005
Total ATIP Unit Costs $73,576
Additional costs $18,185
Total Departmental Costs $91,761

The associated ATIP Unit employee resources for 2010–2011 are estimated at 0.8 of a full-time equivalent for administering the Act. Salary costs decreased in 2010–2011 due, in part, to the nature of the requests received and increased time spent administering and implementing aspects of the Privacy Act. On the other hand, administrative costs increased because of increased staff awareness and training. Overall, however, this still resulted in a small reduction in ATIP Unit costs from 2009–2010.

WD also tracks additional access-related costs incurred throughout the department, including salary costs of officials involved in the retrieval, review and recommendation phases of the request; translation services; ATIP case management system maintenance duties by a systems analyst; and travel costs specifically for WD officials attending RALO training. These additional costs result in an overall cost of $92,301 to the department to administer all aspects of its activities related to the Act.

Complaints and Investigations

WD received no complaints pursuant to the Access to Information Act in 2010–2011; however, the complaint carried forward from 2009–2010 was resolved and remedial action, taken.