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 primary responsibilities of WD's ATIP Unit include:

  • 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 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.

The ATIP Unit monitors the processing of all access requests. The ATIP Coordinator and the department's Executive Committee, RALOs and Communications officials receive weekly status reports of all active formal and informal access requests and consultations.

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 Health and Minister of 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 September 30, 2013, is attached in 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 2013-2014 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 posts summaries of its closed access to information requests to WD’s public website. These postings are also hyperlinked to the “Open Government” website.

Education, Training and Awareness

Staff training and awareness activities include:

  • The ATIP Officer provides ongoing advice on access to information issues, provides guidance on how the department processes access requests, and the rationale required to apply the exemptions and exclusions to Regional ATIP Liaison Officers and staff to increase awareness of the Act.
     
  • In 2013-2014, the ATIP Unit conducted 14 pre-processing meetings throughout the year, which were attended by various subject expert and departmental officials from all five regional offices and two corporate business units as appropriate. These meetings are conducted as new access requests are received and are approximately one-half hour in length, depending on the complexities of the request. They are intended to provide guidance on the records retrieval and review process, recommendations required by the ATIP Unit, and identify volumes of records, potential sensitivities, etc. In total, 61 individuals participated in these meetings.
Classification Level # of Participants Classification Level # of Participants Classification Level # of Participants
AS-01 5 CO-01 1 EX-02 3
AS-02 1 CO-02 3 FI-02 1
AS-03 4 CO-03 12 FI-04 3
AS-04 5 EC-03 2 IS-03 1
AS-05 2 EC-06 5 IS-06 2
AS-07 2 EC-07 1 PG-02 1
CR-04 2 EX-01 4 PG-03 1
  • An Access to Information and Privacy Awareness Session was conducted on November 4, 2013, for departmental officials. In total, 37 project officers and managers attended the session.
Classification Level # of Participants
CO-01 5
CO-02 21
CO-03 5
EC-06 3
EX-01 1
EX-02 2
  • A training session was conducted on March 20, 2014, for recently appointed Regional ATIP Liaison Officers (RALOs) to discuss their roles and responsibilities, and the processes utilized by the department when requests are received. Five RALOs and two back-ups participated
 
Classification Level # of Participants
AS-01 1
CO-01 1
CO-03 2
CR-04 1
FI-01 1
FI-02 1
  • Access and privacy tips, entitled “The ATIP Eye”, are sent to WD staff via e-mail notices and posted on the department’s intranet site. The tips provide information updates and advice on frequently asked questions, specific exemptions, or areas where the department might improve on its obligations under the Act. in 2013–2014, topics included:
     
    • Access and Privacy Policy Suite
    • ATIP Learning Opportunities
    • What is a Transitory or Draft Record?
       
  • WD promoted Right to Know Week (September 23-28, 2013) 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, training and awareness presentations, relevant links to useful sites related to access and privacy, and contact information, as well as “The ATIP Eye” tips.

The Deputy ATIP Coordinator and ATIP Officer attended the Access and Privacy Conference held in Edmonton in June 2013. The Deputy ATIP Coordinator attended the TBS ATIP Coordinators and Practitioners meetings in September 2013. The ATIP Officer participated via teleconference in the November 2013 TBS meetings, and also participated via teleconference in two TBS training sessions on Sections 18 and 69 of the Access to Information Act in December 2013.