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 by the department under the Access to Information Act in 2016-2017.  This increase, combined with the volume of records and complexities of requests, was a challenge, but cannot be attributed to the change in government as a result of the October 2015 federal election.  Subjects of requests were broad and in large appeared to be of unique interest to the requestors. There was also an increase in the number of informal requests for information previously disclosed.
  • Consultations from other government departments also increased, with almost 50 per cent of these requests coming from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for copies of lists of briefing notes prepared for the Ministers or senior departmental officials.
  • The number of written questions from Parliament which were reviewed by the ATIP unit also increased.
  • A complaint from the Information Commissioner’s office was received pertaining to records not physically within the control of the department, which will require the request of records from a third party.  The complaint is ongoing.

The following overview provides a summary of the statistical details found in WD’s 2016-2017 statistical report (Annex A – Statistical Report).

 

Requests Received Pursuant to the Access to Information Act

  1. FORMAL REQUESTS

For the period of April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, WD received 17 formal requests for information pursuant to the Access to Information Act.  This represents an 850 per cent increase from fiscal year 2015-2016.

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


Text Version

The category of requestors for 2016-2017 is broken down as follows:

  • Six each (35 percent) from the media and general public
  • Three (18 percent) from organizations
  • Two (12 percent) from businesses (private sector)

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


Text Version

 

In total, 13 access requests were completed during the reporting period, and four were carried forward to 2017-2018.

  1. INFORMAL REQUESTS

WD processed nine requests informally during 2016-2017 for copies of previously disclosed access requests as a result of the posting of summaries of closed access requests of the department’s public website and the Open Government portal.  This is a 28 percent increase from 2015-2016.

No application fees or response timelines apply to these informal requests; however, WD responded to all requests in six days or less.

 

Disposition and Completion Time of Requests

The disposition and completion times of the requests completed in 2016-2017 are broken down as follows:

Disposition of Completed Requests 1–15 days 16-30 days 31-60 days 61-120 days TOTAL
All disclosed 1 2     3
Disclosed in part   2 2 2 6
No records exist 2 1     3
Request abandoned 1       1
TOTAL 4 5 2 2 13

 

All completed requests were responded to within the established timelines:

  • 69 percent within the original 30 days, including one request abandoned by the requestor; and
  • for those requests that required an extension, 15.5 percent within 44 days and 15.5 percent within 69 days.

 

Extensions of the 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 or, if consultations are necessary.

In 2016-2017, WD required one extension due to the volume of records requested.  Extensions were also required to complete necessary consultations with other government departments or third parties on three additional requests.

Although consultations were undertaken on two other requests, the department was able to complete these within the original 30 day time limit.

 

Exemptions and Exclusions Invoked

Of the 13 requests completed in 2016–2017, exemptions were applied pursuant to the Act on six 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, if the same exemption was claimed several times in the same request it is captured only once in the statistics.  Exemptions were invoked on these requests included the following sub-sections:

  • 13(1)(c) – information obtained in confidence from a provincial government
  • 14(a) – federal-provincial consultations or deliberations
  • 16(2)(c) – security of communications systems
  • 19(1) – personal information
  • 20(1)(b) – information obtained in confidence from a third party
  • 20(1)(c) – information that could result financial loss or prejudice competitive position of a third party
  • 20(1)(d) – information that could interfere with contractual or other negotiations of a third party
  • 21(1)(a) – advice and recommendations to government
  • 21(1)(b) – consultations and deliberations of government

Section 21(1) was the most utilized exemption during the reporting period, having been applied to five requests.  Section 20(1) was applied to four 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.   WD did not invoke either section during this reporting period.

 

Other Government Department Consultations

In 2016-2017, WD received 29 consultations in total from other federal departments, and 1 from another level of government, for a total of 30.  This is a 30 percent increase from 2015-2016.

  • WD recommended full disclosure of information pertaining to our department on 24 consultation requests.  This included nine courtesy notices which WD reviews for due diligence purposes.
  • WD recommended partial disclosure of information pertaining to our department on six consultation requests.
  • Fifty percent of the consultations were received from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and the majority of these related to lists of briefing notes prepared for Minister Bains or other senior departmental officials.
  • In total, WD reviewed 1,411 pages.  This was an increase on 727 percent in records reviewed from 2015-2016.
  • WD responded to 93 per cent of the consultations (28) within 7 days or less, and the remaining 6 per cent of the consultations (2) within 20 days.

The accompanying chart shows the comparison of number of pages reviewed as part of the consultation process by WD over the past five years.


Text Version
 

Complaints, Audits and Investigations

WD received one complaint pursuant to the Access to Information Act in 2016-2017, and it remains ongoing in 2017-2018.  This complaint deals with records of a third party which have been deemed to be under the department’s control.

There were no audits undertaken or concluded during the reporting period.  Further, there were no appeals or applications submitted to the Federal Court.

 

Fees Collected

WD collected $75 in Access to Information application fees during this reporting period.  During the same period, the department waived application fees totalling $10.

 

Operational Costs Associatied with Administering the Act

WD’s cost for administrating the Access to Information Act in the ATIP Unit include a portion of the ATIP Coordinator’s and Deputy ATIP Coordinator’s salaries, and 60 percent of the ATIP Officer’s salary (a total of .82 FTE/year).  Other costs pertaining to goods and services, including professional services contracts and other expenses, including the ATIP case management system licensing and maintenance, supplies, and ATIP unit travel and training, are reported in the annual statistical report (see Annex A).  The total cost reported was $81,842.

Additional costs, which incorporate estimates 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 totalled $7,112 in 2016-2017.  These costs are not all captured in the statistical report, but provide a more complete picture of the overall cost of $88,954 to the department to administer all aspects of its activities related to the Access to Information Act.