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2015-2016 Annual Report to Parliament - Privacy Act

Policies, guidelines, procedures and reporting

Policy Framework

Environment Canada’s access to information policy framework was approved in November 2012. 

During the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Environment and Climate Change Canada drafted departmental guidance on the collection, use and disclosure of the Social Insurance Number.  This guidance document will be finalized in early 2016-2017.


The ATIP Division regularly monitors the timeliness and trends associated with the processing of requests through ongoing communication with Branch and Directorate liaison contacts. In addition, regular ATIP updates are provided to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Executive Management Committee.

Publicly Accessible Information and Inquiry Points

Info Source is a series of publications containing information on the Government of Canada and on the government’s data collection activities. Info Source is intended to help the public access government information and to exercise their rights under the Privacy Act and Access to Information Act.

Each year, the ATIP Division prepares updates on Environment Canada’s activities and information holdings for publication in Info Source which is published on the Department’s website. In 2015-2016, Environment and Climate Change Canada completed a major revision of its Info Source chapter based on the Department’s updated Program Activity Architecture.

Environment Canada’s comprehensive website provides information on the Department’s policies, its organizational structure and the means to contact Department officials. In accordance with the federal government’s policy of proactive disclosure, the Department’s website also allows access to internal evaluations and audits, as well as information on hospitality expenses, contracts and grants.

Environment Canada’s website also has an Access to Information and Privacy webpage that provides background information on both the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. It also contains a Frequently Asked Questions section and links to access to information request forms, personal information request forms and summaries of completed access to information requests.

In order to facilitate public access to information and to comply with the Act, the Environment and Climate Change Canada Library has been designated a public reading room. The Library is located on the 1st floor of the Place Vincent Massey Annex, 351 St. Joseph Boulevard, Gatineau, Quebec.

Online Request Service

Since April 2014, Environment and Climate Change Canada has participated in the Treasury Board Secretariat Online Request Service Pilot Project. This initiative makes the process of requesting government records simpler and more convenient by enabling Canadians to submit their ATIP requests and application fees online.  Environment and Climate Change Canada received 67 Privacy requests online during the 2015–2016 reporting period.  This represents a significant increase over the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as applicants have become more familiar with the online service.

DataSharing Activities

The Department did not undertake any new internal or external data sharing activities in 2015–2016.

Exempt Personal Information Banks

Environment and Climate Change Canada has no exempt Personal Information Banks.

Privacy Impact Assessments

To fulfill its mandate, some of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s responsibilities require the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. As a trusted custodian of this information, the Department uses Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs), in accordance with Treasury Board policy, as a risk management tool. Although Environment and Climate Change Canada did not complete any Privacy Impact Assessments during the reporting period, the ATIP Division regularly provides advice to departmental employees on privacy matters.

Material Privacy Breaches

There was one material privacy breach during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  The privacy breach involved the e-mail misdirection of a letter containing personal information of an Environment and Climate Change Canada employee. 

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