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.

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 to enable the timely processing and proper disclosure of information to our clients.

The following list outlines the primary responsibilities of WD's ATIP Unit:

  • processing access requests in accordance with the Act;
     
  • assist requestors in formulating their requests when required;
     
  • responding to consultations from other federal institutions on WD records or information being considered for release;
     
  • applying all discretionary and mandatory exemptions in accordance with the provisions of the Act;
     
  • 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 Secretariat, 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.

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 experts, coordinate retrieval of records responding to access requests, and liaise between the ATIP Unit and regional staff concerning enquiries. Three of these individuals were new to this role in 2012–2013.

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.

Delegation of Authority

In accordance with section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of the Public Works and Government Services, 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 Coordinator). The delegation also extends limited authority to the ATIP Officer to acknowledge access requests, undertake consultations, and manage related extensions. The delegation order issued on August 26, 2011, is found in (attached) Annex A.

Departmental Policies and Procedures

There were no changes made to WD’s Access to Information policy suite, including the Access to Information Procedures Manual, during the 2012–2013 fiscal year as a result of changes in TBS policies or directives, or changes as result of issues raised by the Office of the Information Commissioner or other agents of Parliament.

The department has posted summaries of its closed access to information requests since September 2011. This requirement became mandatory in the revised TBS Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act (January 16, 2012). WD’s postings are also hyperlinked to the “Open Government” Web site.

Education, Training and Awareness

Staff training and awareness activities include:

  • The ATIP Officer provides ongoing advice on access to information issues to Regional ATIP Liaison Officers 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.
     
  • Due to fiscal restraint and travel required to provide in-person training in five regional offices, the primary training vehicle used was pre-processing meetings when a new access request is received. Lead by the ATIP Officer, these teleconference meetings bring together the Regional ATIP Liaison Officers and the subject experts to discuss the specifics and scope of the request, volume of records or issues concerning the search for relevant records, any sensitivities surrounding the subject matter of the request, and provide general advice and guidance on recommendations that are required by the ATIP Unit to properly process the request, as well as answer any questions pertaining to processing of the records.

    In 2012–2013, the ATIP Unit conducted eight pre-processing meetings, which were attended by officials from all five regional offices. These meetings are usually ½ hour in length, depending on the complexities of the request. In total, 31 individuals participated in these meetings as follows (this does not include additional advice or guidance provided to regional staff after these meetings were held):
Request # # of Participants Offices Represented Classification Level of the Participants
A-2012-00002 4 Corporate Finance (Edmonton) and Policy and Strategic Direction (Ottawa) AS-04, CS-02, and FI-03 (x2)
A-2012-00003 3 British Columbia CO-03, IS-02, and IS-04
A-2012-00004 2 British Columbia CO-03 and EC-06
A-2012-00007 2 British Columbia EC-06 and FI-03
A-2012-00010 5 Manitoba EX-02, FI-02, FI-04, IS-04, and IS-05
A-2012-00012 3 Saskatchewan AS-03, CO-02 and CO-03,
A-2012-00013 8 British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba CO-02 (x2), CO-03 (x2), EC–06, FI-02, FI-04, and PM-06
A-2012-00014 4 Corporate Finance (Edmonton) and Policy and Strategic Direction (Ottawa) AS-04, EX–02, FI-02 and FI–04

The other six new requests did not require pre-processing meeting due to the nature of the request.

  • “The ATIP Eye” tips are sent to WD staff via e-mail 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 2012–2013, tips provided information on:
     
    • 2012–2013 ATIP Annual Reports to Parliament Now Available On-Line; and
    • The ATIP Holiday Wish – An Extension!
       
  • WD promoted Right to Know Week (September 24-28, 2012) 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.

The Deputy ATIP Coordinator and ATIP Officer attended workshops at the Access and Privacy Conference held in Edmonton in June 2012. The Deputy Coordinator received one-on-one ATIP training in February 2013, and the ATIP Officer also attended the TBS ATIP Coordinators and Practitioners Meeting in February 2013.

Three Regional ATIP Liaison Officers were identified in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba regional offices since September 2012. Limited training has been provided for two of these regions which made changes in the last quarter of 2013. A video conference training session is being planned for fiscal year 2013–2014 for these individuals.