Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Administration of the Act

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 (Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator) and Manager, Corporate Administration (Deputy Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator). The delegation also extends limited authority to the Access to Information and Privacy (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.

The 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, Deputy ATIP Coordinator, and one full-time ATIP Officer 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 monitoring and 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 briefing reports pertaining to the status of all active formal and informal access requests and consultations.

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 2014-2015 fiscal year as a result of changes in TBS policies or directives.

The department posts summaries of its closed access to information requests to WD’s public website.  These postings were also hyperlinked to the “Open Government” website.

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 2014-2015, the ATIP Unit conducted 4 pre-processing meetings, which were attended by departmental officials/subject experts.  These meetings are conducted as new access requests are received and when deemed appropriate dependent on the nature of the request.  Meetings are approximately one-half hour in length, depending on the complexities of the request, and 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, 13 individuals participated in these meetings.
  • Two training sessions were conducted 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.  Two RALOs and two back-ups participated in the meeting.
  • WD promoted Right to Know Week (September 22-28, 2014) 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.