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2013-2014 - Annual Report to Parliament - Access to Information Act

Interpretation of the Statistical Report

Environment Canada’s Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act is included in Appendix A of this report.

Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, Environment Canada received 1459 requests under the Access to Information Act. There were 188 requests carried forward from the 2012–2013 reporting period, for a total of 1647 active requests in the 2013–2014 reporting period. In 2013–2014, a total of 1424 requests were completed, and 223 were carried forward to the next reporting period.

The following is a percentage breakdown of the sources of access to information requests received in 2013–2014:
SourceNumberPercentage
Academia161%
Business87560%
Media19113%
Organization14510%
Public23216%
Total1,459100%

Sources of Access to Information Requests

Long Description of Figure 1

Sources of Access to Information Requests – 2013-2014

  • Academia – 1%
  • Business – 60%
  • Media – 13%
  • Organization – 10%
  • Public –16%

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During the 2013–2014 reporting period, 193 requests were abandoned by applicants for various reasons, including the requirement to pay additional fees.

There were 791 requests for information for which there was no record. Environment Canada receives a number of requests each year for documents pertaining to the environmental compliance of properties. Most of these no-record requests consisted of environmental compliance requests where no records were located concerning the properties in question.

In 2013–2014, Environment Canada received 1459 requests under the Access to Information Act. This represents a 20% decrease over the previous reporting period. With a decrease in the number of requests received during the reporting period, there was a corresponding decrease in the number of requests completed. Although the number of requests processed during the reporting period decreased, the volume of responsive records associated with the processing of those requests has significantly increased.

The following graph displays the number of access to information requests that were received by the ATIP Secretariat from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Access Requests Received

Long Description of Figure 2

Access Requests Received – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 892 requests
  • 2009-2010 – 890 requests
  • 2010-2011 – 1,128 requests
  • 2011-2012 – 1,421 requests
  • 2012-2013 – 1,827 requests
  • 2013-2014 – 1,459 requests

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This next graph displays the number of access to information requests that were closed by the ATIP Secretariat from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Access Requests Closed

Long Description of Figure 3

Access Requests Closed – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 914 requests
  • 2009-2010 – 929 requests
  • 2010-2011 – 1,171 requests
  • 2011-2012 – 1,425 requests
  • 2012-2013 – 1,810 requests
  • 2013-2014 – 1,424 requests

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In the 2013–2014 reporting period, 185,385 pages of records were retrieved in response to Access to Information requests. This represents an increase of 54% over the 2012–2013 reporting period.

The following graph displays the number of pages processed by the ATIP Secretariat in processing access to information requests under the Access to Information Act from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Pages Processed for Access Requests

Long Description of Figure 4

Pages Processed for Access Requests – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 134,078 pages
  • 2009-2010 – 169,241 pages
  • 2010-2011 – 163,273 pages
  • 2011-2012 – 164,777 pages
  • 2012-2013 – 120,741 pages
  • 2013-2014 – 185,385 pages

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Exemptions and Exclusions

The Access to Information Act prescribes a number of exemptions and exclusions that allow or require the Department to refuse to disclose certain types of information. The two most common exemptions invoked by Environment Canada in 2013–2014 were for personal information (section 19) and government operations (section 21). In 2013–2014, exemptions and/or exclusions were cited in 21% of the completed requests.

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Time Limitations

During the 2013–2014 reporting period, 1074 (75%) of the completed requests were processed within the initial 30-day period. This included 824 requests completed in the first 15 days, and 250 requests completed between 16 and 30 days.

The following graph displays the breakdown of completion times for requests completed during the 2013–2014 reporting period.

Completion Time for Access Requests

Long Description of Figure 5

Completion Time for Access Requests – 2013-2014

  • 1-15 Days – 58%
  • 16-30 Days – 18%
  • 31-60 Days – 5%
  • 61-120 Days – 7%
  • 121-180 Days – 4%
  • 181-365 Days – 6%
  • 365+ Days – 2%

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A total of 176 requests were completed beyond the legislated deadline. Of the 176 late requests, 74 requests were late as a result of the need to conduct external consultations.

In 2013-2014, Environment Canada undertook 39 consultations to confirm cabinet confidence exclusions.

Twenty-three (23) consultations were conducted with the Privy Council Office, Legislation and House Planning to confirm the exclusion of cabinet confidences.

As a result of changes to procedures for the confirmation of cabinet confidence exclusions, Environment Canada’s Legal Services Unit began providing advice on the exclusion of cabinet confidences in July 2013. 16 consultations were conducted with Environment Canada’s Legal Services during the reporting period.

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Extension of Time Limits

Section 9 of the Access to Information Act allows government institutions to extend the deadline for responding to a request if the request requires the institution to search a large number of records, to consult with other government institutions, or to communicate with third parties.

In 2013–2014, 185 requests required extensions of 30 days or less, 192 required an extension of between 31 and 60 days, 94 required an extension of between 61 to 120 days, and 5 required an extension of 121 to 180 days. No extensions of more than 180 days were taken. In total, 476 requests required an extension past the original deadline of 30 days. The main reason for extensions was due to the volume of records involved in completing requests or the need to conduct a large search.

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Complexity of Files

A number of files were considered complex for various reasons. Of the 1424 requests closed during the 2013–2014 reporting period, 313 were considered to be complex. There were 244 requests that were complex due to the need to conduct consultations, 54 requests were considered complex due to the assessment of fees, 7 requests required legal advice, and 8 requests were classified in the “other” category. The “other” category consists of files containing high-profile subject matter, records held in a region or another country, or records that are in a language other than French or English.

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Consultations

As an integral part of departmental processing procedures, other government institutions are consulted if access requests contain issues of interest to them. Although formal consultations are undertaken in writing, additional discussions between ATIP offices are initiated as required in order to facilitate the completion of each case. Consultations are also regularly undertaken with third parties and other levels of government.

In 2013–2014, Environment Canada received 175 access to information consultations from other federal government institutions and 16 consultations from other organizations for a total of 191 consultations received. This constitutes a 29% decrease relative to the previous reporting period. There were 26 access consultations outstanding from the previous reporting period. During the 2013–2014 reporting period, 204 access consultations were completed which is a decrease of 20% compared with the previous reporting period. Thirteen (13) access consultations were carried forward to the 2014-2015 reporting period.

The following graph displays the number of access to information consultations that were received by the ATIP Secretariat from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Access Consultations Received

Long Description of Figure 6

Access Consultations Received – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 186 requests
  • 2009-2010 – 117 requests
  • 2010-2011 – 159 requests
  • 2011-2012 – 227 requests
  • 2012-2013 – 270 requests
  • 2013-2014 – 191 requests

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This next graph displays the number of access to information consultations that were closed by the ATIP Secretariat from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Access Consultations Closed

Long Description of Figure 7

Access Consultations Closed – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 209 requests
  • 2009-2010 – 134 requests
  • 2010-2011 – 158 requests
  • 2011-2012 – 219 requests
  • 2012-2013 – 256 requests
  • 2013-2014 – 204 requests

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The number of pages processed in response to access to information consultations during the 2013–2014 reporting period decreased over the 2012–2013 reporting period: 10,584 pages were processed for consultations compared to 14,768 pages during the previous period. This is a decrease of 28%.

The following graph displays the number of pages processed by the ATIP Secretariat in response to access to information consultations received from 2008–2009 to 2013–2014.

Pages Processed for Access Consultations

Long Description of Figure 8

Pages Processed for Access Consultations – 2008-2014

  • 2008-2009 – 6,959 pages
  • 2009-2010 – 7,563 pages
  • 2010-2011 – 6,367 pages
  • 2011-2012 – 12,671 pages
  • 2012-2013 – 14,768 pages
  • 2013-2014 – 10,584 pages

During the 2013–2014 reporting period, 105 (51%) of the completed access consultations were processed within the initial 30-day period. This included 54 completed in the first 15 days, and 51 completed between 16 and 30 days.

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Informal Requests

Throughout the year, the ATIP Secretariat provides advice to departmental staff with respect to informal requests, parliamentary questions and the review of draft audit and evaluation reports.

A summary list of completed Access to Information requests is published on Environment Canada’s website on a monthly basis. Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, Environment Canada received 61 informal Access to Information requests for previously released Access to Information packages. In addition, Environment Canada completed 5 informal requests carried forward from the 2012–2013 reporting period, for a total of 66 informal requests processed. Four (4) informal requests were carried forward to 2014-2015.

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Fees

In the 2013–2014 reporting period, total fees of $9,075 were collected for the processing of 1422 requests. This consisted of search fees in the amount of $1,780 and application fees totalling $7,295. No other fees were charged for production, preparation or reproduction.

In accordance with Treasury Board Secretariat guidelines, Environment Canada waived fees that individually amounted to $25 or less, although no waiver is granted for the initial $5 application fee.

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Costs

The costs involved in administering the Access to Information Act were $1,067,150 for salaries and overtime and $251,736 for goods and services ($186,408 for professional service contracts and $65,328 for other costs). This brings the total costs to $1,318,886.

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