Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Administration of the Act

Departmental Structure

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) employs 319 individuals across Western Canada and in Ottawa, including:  economists, commerce officers and policy analysts.  They are supported by specialists in such areas as:  communications, corporate administration, financial management, human resources, information management and information technology, and procurement.

WD is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta, and organized into four regional units (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba), with offices located in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and a liaison office in Ottawa.

Each of these offices is responsible for searching and retrieving documents responsive to access requests received under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act; however, the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) unit is legally responsible for implementing and managing the ATIP program and services for WD, including all decisions on the disclosure or non-disclosure of information pursuant to the legislation.

Acess to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Unit

The ATIP Unit is located in Edmonton, Alberta, and is responsible for the implementation and management of the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act programs and services for WD.  It is part of the Finance and Corporate Management Directorate.

Specifically, the ATIP Unit:

  • makes decisions on the disposition of access requests;
  • conducts consultations with other federal government departments, provincial and municipal government departments, and third parties with respect to access to information and privacy issues;
  • promotes awareness of the legislation to ensure departmental responsiveness to the obligation imposed by law;
  • monitors and advises on departmental compliance with the Acts, regulations, procedures and policies; and
  • acts as the spokesperson for the Department when dealing with the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Information Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner, and other government departments and agencies.

The ATIP Unit has three employees, including the ATIP Coordinator, Deputy ATIP Coordinator, and one ATIP Officer.  The Coordinators fulfill their responsibilities in addition to numerous other functions within the department.  The ATIP Officer is dedicated to processing all access and privacy requests, along with related functions, as well as additional departmental responsibilities pertaining to Personnel Security and other security-related functions.  In total, approximately .82 FTE was dedicated to access to information activities in 2016-2017.

The ATIP Unit is accountable for the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines, systems and procedures to manage the department’s compliance with the Acts.  The administration of the legislation in WD is managed by the ATIP Unit, but it is also facilitated at the corporate business unit and regional office levels.  Each corporate business unit and regional office has an ATIP Liaison Officer (reporting to an Assistant Deputy Minister, Executive Director, or corporate business unit Director) who is the first point of contact and identifies the appropriate subject experts, coordinates retrieval of records responding to access requests, and liaises between the ATIP Unit and regional staff concerning enquiries.  The ATIP Unit responds to all requests submitted under the Act.

Other access to information-related tracked activities which were completed by the ATIP Unit in 2016-2017 include:

ACTIVITY TOTAL (Questions/Reviews/E-mails/Reports, etc.)
Preparing parliamentary responses 7
Review of parliamentary questions and responses 104
Preparing and delivering ATIP training/awareness sessions to departmental officials 13
Advice and guidance to WD officials, other government departments and the public x
Update the ATIP intranet site x
Preparing and tabling annual reports and statistical reports x
Input to RPP and DPR (ATIP User Fees) x
Managing Info Source updates and web postings x
Preparing summaries of closed access to information requests x
Participating in Information Management initiatives and providing ATIP guidance x
Review and update ATIA business practices, procedures and policy development x
Regular review and destruction of ATIA files in accordance with retention schedule x

The ATIP Unit monitors the processing of all access requests.  The ATIP Coordinator and the department’s Executive Committee, regional ATIP Liaison Officers and Communications officials receive weekly reports pertaining to the status of all active formal and informal access requests.

In addition, procedures are in place with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Information and Privacy Rights Administration unit to advise the Minister weekly on the status of all active formal and information access requests, as well as the disclosure of potentially sensitive requests for information if appropriate.

Delegation of Authority

In accordance with section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, delegated his 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.  The delegation order was issued on June 10, 2016.

Departmental Policies and Procedures

WD’s Access to Information Policy Suite, including the departmental Access to Information Policy and procedures manual, was reviewed and updated in fiscal year 2016–2017.  These policy and procedural documents are reviewed as needed to ensure that they are up-to-date, and reflect any 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 on the Open Information Portal.

Training and Awareness

Staff training and awareness activities include:

  • The ATIP Officer provides indirect instruction on access to information issues, guidance on how the department processes access requests and the rationale required to apply the exemptions and exclusions to ATIP Liaison Officers and staff to increase awareness of the Act.
  • In 2016-2017, the ATIP Officer conducted 13 pre-processing meetings attended by 24 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 provide direct instruction on the records retrieval and review process, recommendations required by the ATIP Unit, and to identify volumes of records, potential sensitivities, etc.

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.