Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Trends and Statistical Overview

Highlights, Challenges and Trends

  • There was a substantial increase in the number of requests received under the Access to Information Act in 2013-2014. Specifically, within a one month period from mid-January to mid-February 2014, 10 new requests were received, or one-third of the department’s access caseload for the entire fiscal year.
  • The sharp increase in requests, combined with the volume of records and complexities of requests was a challenge. 
  • The ATIP Case Management System utilized by the department does not accurately capture the statistics required by the Treasury Board Secretariat, and annual statistical reporting required substantial manual calculations.
  • WD recognized Right to Know Week (September 24-28, 2013) via e-mail to all staff as a news bulletin on the department’s intranet site.

Statistical Overview

The following information provides additional context to the statistical details found in WD's 2013-2014 statistical report (Annex B – "Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act".)

A. Requests Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, WD received 30 requests for information pursuant to the Access to Information Act.

The accompanying chart shows the comparison of new of requests received by the department over the past five years.

Text version(Link 1): 5-Year Comparison of the Number of Requests Received

Chart depicts the comparison of the number of access requests received for 2009-2010 to 2013-2014.

B. Sources of Formal Requests

The breakdown of the sources of requests received in 2013-2014 is as follows:

  • Twelve (40 percent) from the media;
  • Five (16.5 percent) each from academia and the general public; and
  • Four (13.5 percent) each from business (private sector) and other organizations (political party);

The accompanying chart shows a five-year comparison of sources of access requests to WD.

Text version(Link 2): Sources of Formal Request

Chart depicting the comparison of requests by source – 2009-2010 to 2013-2014.

In addition, as a result of the posting of summaries of closed access requests, WD processed eight requests for copies of previously disclosed access requests. No application fees or response timelines apply to these informal requests.

C. Disposition and Completion Times

In total, 28 access requests were completed during the reporting period; two requests were carried forward into 2014-2015 fiscal year.

With regard to the completed requests, one request was transferred, eight requests were abandoned by the applicants, and no records existed for four requests.

While the workload of an abandoned request usually is minimal, one request created a substantial workload for both the subject experts and ATIP Unit. The request involved the initial retrieval and review of over 10,000 pages of records, 1,788 which were determined to be relevant, before the requestor abandoned the request after 39 days. Subsequently, the requestor submitted two separate requests, which required that the relevant pages from the abandoned request be further reviewed against the new request requirements, and extensive cross-referencing of previously provided advice between the two new files.

Similarly, five other abandoned requests took considerable time and research to provide details of where information was available in the public domain before the requestor abandoned their requests.

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

Disposition of Requests 1-15 Days 16-30-Days 31-60 Days 61-120 Days TOTAL
All disclosed   3 2   5
Disclosed in part   2 3 4 9
All exempted   1     1
No records exist 4       4
Request transferred 1       1
Request abandoned 2       8
Total 7 11 6 4 28

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D. 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.

In 2013-2014, WD required extensions due to interference with departmental operations on four requests. These extensions may be considered if processing the request within 30 days would require the transfer of resources from a business unit to the ATIP office, monopolize a significant portion of the resources of the office of primary interest to the detriment of its core functions, or the request would use such a high proportion of the resources of the ATIP Unit that it would have a significant negative impact on the processing of other requests.

Six requests required extensions to complete necessary consultations with other government departments and/or third parties.

E. Exemptions and Exclusions Invoked

Of the 28 requests closed in 2013–2014, exemptions were applied pursuant to the Act on 10 requests. If three different exemptions were applied to a request, one exemption under each relevant section would be reported for a total of three; however, the same exemption claimed several times in the same request is captured only once in the statistics.

The accompanying table compares the number of exemptions applied during 2013-2014 and 2012-2013 fiscal years.

Subsection 2013–2014 2012–2013
13(1) (c) 0 1
14 (a)
16(2)   0 0
16.1(1) (a) 1 0
  (a)(ii) 3 0
18 (b) 1 0
19(1)   6 6


21(1) (a)
22   1 0
23   2 3
26   1 1

Section 20(1) was the most utilized exemption during the reporting period, having been applied to nine requests. Section 21(1) was applied to eight requests.

The 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. Of the 28 requested closed in 2013-2014, WD did not invoke Section 68 during this reporting period. Section 69 was invoked pursuant to the Act on four requests during the reporting period as noted below.

To clarify statistics pertaining to Section 69, three requests were received for the same information. Of these, only the original request involved a Cabinet confidence consultation. The same advice was applied to the two subsequent requests which were received prior to completion of the original request.

Subsection 2013–2014 2012–2013
69(1) (a) 3 0
  (d) 3 0
  (e) 1 0
  (g) re (a) 4 0
  (g) re (c) 3 0
  (g) re (e) 3 0

F. Other Government Department Consultations

WD was consulted by other federal departments on 24 occasions in 2013-2014. No consultations were received from other organizations in 2013-2014. In total, WD received 24 consultations in 2012-2013.

  • Of these consultations, four were courtesy notices. WD, however, reviews this information carefully to ensure the information being disclosed about the department is accurate.
  • WD recommended full disclosure of information pertaining to our department on 14 consultation requests.
  • WD recommended partial disclosure of information pertaining to our department on six consultation requests.
  • WD reviewed 396 pages in total.
  • WD responded to 22 consultations within 15 days, and the remaining two consults within 18 days.

G. Complaints, Audits and Investigations

WD received no complaints pursuant to the Access to Information Act in 2013–2014, and there were no audits or investigations undertaken on concluded during the reporting period. Further, there were no appeals or applications submitted to the Federal Court.

H. Fees Collected and Operational Costs Associated with Administering the Act

Access to Information fees collected during the reporting period totalled $135. In total, $30 in application fees were either refunded or waived as a result of the requests subsequently being abandoned. During the same period, WD waived reproduction fees totalling $145.

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

  • the ATIP Unit salary costs, including a portion of the ATIP Coordinator’s and Deputy ATIP Coordinator’s salaries, and 90 percent of the ATIP Officer’s salary (a total of 1.09 FTE/year);
  • goods and services, including professional services contracts and other expenses, including the ATIP case management system licensing, and ATIP unit travel and training costs;
  • additional salary-related costs, which incorporate estimated costs for other departmental officials to retrieve, review and make recommendations concerning records responding to access requests, information technology support, and translation of staff awareness materials and access-related documents.
ATIP Unit Salaries $85,088
Goods and Services $13,159
Total ATIP Unit Costs $98,241
Additional salary-related costs $16,809

The additional costs included above, which are not all captured in the Statistical Report, provide a more complete picture of the overall cost to the department to administer all aspects of its activities related to the Access to Information Act.