Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Administration of The Act

Access to Information and Privacy Unit

Western Economic Diversification Canada’s (WD) Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Unit is located in Edmonton, Alberta. The unit oversees the administration of the Act, and is part of the Finance and Corporate Management Directorate. The ATIP Coordinator (Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Management) is supported by the Deputy Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator (Manager, Corporate Administration), and one full-time ATIP Officer. In addition, a back-up was identified for the ATIP Officer in March 2012.

These individuals are accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures to ensure the Minister’s responsibilities under the Act are met, and enabling the appropriate processing and proper disclosure of information.

Regional ATIP Liaison Officers (RALOs) are located in each of WD’s regional offices and corporate business units. These seven individuals are the first point of contact and identify the appropriate subject matter experts, coordinate retrieval of records responding to access requests, and liaise between the ATIP Unit and regional staff concerning enquiries.

The primary activities of WD’s ATIP Unit include:

  • processing access requests in accordance with the Act;
  • responding to consultations submitted by other federal institutions on WD records being considered for release;
  • developing and maintaining policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure the Act is respected by staff;
  • promoting awareness of the Act within the department to ensure staff is aware of the obligations imposed by the legislation;
  • preparing annual reports to Parliament and other statutory requirements, such as annual statistical reports and the department’s Info Source chapter, as well as any material that may be required by central agencies;
  • representing WD in dealings with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada and other federal organizations regarding the application of the Act as it relates to WD;
  • monitoring departmental compliance with the Act, its regulations, and relevant policies and procedures; and
  • providing ongoing advice and guidance to senior management and staff on information management and access to information legislation.

The ATIP Unit utilizes an ATIP database management system for all administrative actions; however, it processes all records in paper format, except where lists are compiled into Excel format and provided to the applicant electronically. WD does not utilize an electronic redaction system for processing its records at this time.

Delegation of Authority

For the purposes of the Access to Information Act for WD, the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, Minister for Status of Women and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification delegated her full powers, authorities and responsibilities to the Executive Director, Finance and Corporate Management (ATIP Coordinator) and Manager, Corporate Administration (Deputy ATIP). The delegation also extends limited authority to the ATIP Officer to acknowledge access requests and manage related extensions.

A copy of the signed delegation instrument for the Access to Information Act is attached in Annex A.

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Departmental Policies and Procedures

WD’s Access to Information policy suite, including the Access to Information Procedures Manual, underwent significant updates in fiscal year 2010–2011. These policy and procedural documents are reviewed annually to ensure that they are up-to-date, and incorporate any changes in TBS policies or directives, or changes as result of issues raised by the Office of the Information Commission or other agents of Parliament. As these documents had been recently revised, no changes were made in the 2011–2012 fiscal year.

However, as a result of TBS guidance received in July 2011 pertaining to posting of summaries of completed access requests on the public Web sites of federal institutions, WD began posting summaries of its closed access to information requests in September 2011. This requirement became mandatory in the revised TBS Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (January 16, 2012). In addition, a new hyperlink was added to the home page on WD’s Web site above the hyperlink to "Proactive Disclosure" and the postings are also hyperlinked to the Open Government Web site.

Education, Training and Awareness

The Deputy ATIP Coordinator and ATIP Officer attended workshops at the Access and Privacy Conference held in Edmonton in June 2011. The ATIP Officer also attended the Canadian Access and Privacy Association Annual Conference and TBS ATIP Practitioners Meeting in November 2011.

In March 2012, the ATIP Officer successfully met all the requirements for professional certification from the Canadian Institute of Access and Privacy Professional (CIAPP) and was granted the designation of CIAPP Professional.

A back-up for the ATIP Officer was identified in mid-March 2012. Limited training was provided in fiscal year 2011–2012.

Staff training and awareness activities include:

  • The ATIP Coordinator, Deputy ATIP Coordinator and ATIP Officer provide ongoing advice on access to information issues to RALO s and staff to increase awareness of the Act. They also provide guidance on how the department processes access requests, and the rationale required to apply the exemptions and exclusions, where appropriate.
     
  • Regional ATIP awareness sessions were cancelled following the 2011 Federal budget announcement. As a result, WD is exploring training options via video conference for the 2012–2013 fiscal year.
     
  • "The ATIP Eye" tips are sent to WD staff via email and posted on the department’s intranet site. The tips provide advice on frequently asked questions, specific exemptions or areas where the department might improve on its obligations under the Act. In 2011–2012, tips provided guidance on:
     
    • the duty to document;
    • briefing notes;
    • advice, recommendations, consultations and deliberations (two parts);
    • irrelevance; and
    • information obtained in confidence.

Several departmental managers use these tips as discussion items in staff meetings. They are also shared with ATIP officials in several federal institutions, including the regional development agencies, the Canadian Space Agency, National Research Council of Canada, the Canada School of Public Service, and other small departments and agencies that are part of the Small Agency Administrator’s Network.

  • WD promoted Right to Know Week (September 26–30, 2011) via e-mail to all staff as a news bulletin on the department’s intranet site.
     
  • The department maintains an "Access to Information and Privacy" presence on its intranet site that includes policies, procedures, contact information, past training and awareness presentations, relevant links to useful sites related to access and privacy, as well as "The ATIP Eye" tips.