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Atlantic Canada

Opportunities Agency

Access to Information Act

and

Privacy Act

Annual Report to Parliament

April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2007

  

PREFACE

The Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (Revised Statutes of Canada, Chapter A1, 1985) were proclaimed on July 1, 1983.

The Access to Information Act gives all individuals and corporate entities present in Canada a right of access to information contained in government records, subject to certain specific and limited exceptions.

The Privacy Act extends to individuals the right of access to information about themselves. This law also protects an individuals privacy by preventing others from having access to personal information, and gives individuals substantial control over its collection and use.

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act and Section 72 of the Privacy Act require that the head of every government institution shall prepare, for submission to Parliament, an annual report on the administration of the Acts within the institution during each financial year.

This annual report is intended to describe how the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency administered its responsibilities in the operation of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT AND THE PRIVACY ACT

1. Delegation of Authority
2. Policies and Procedures
3. Information Holdings
4. Reading Room
5. Education and Training Activities
6. Complaints
7. Privacy Impact Assessment
8. Authorized Disclosure under the Privacy Act
9. Data Matching and Sharing Activities

INTERPRETATION OF THE REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

INTERPRETATION OF THE REPORT ON THE PRIVACY ACT

ANNEX A - ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT DELEGATION INSTRUMENT
ANNEX B - PRIVACY ACT DELEGATION INSTRUMENT
ANNEX C - REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT
ANNEX D - FREQUENCY OF EXEMPTIONS INVOKED AND EXCLUSIONS CITED BY SECTIONS
OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT
ANNEX E - REPORT ON THE PRIVACY ACT

INTRODUCTION

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is a federal government institution headquartered in Moncton, New Brunswick. Its mission is to improve the economy of Atlantic Canadian communities through the successful development of business and employment opportunities.

ACOAs portfolio is composed of one Crown corporation the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC).

The President of ACOA is also Chair of the Board of Directors of ECBC. ECBC is a Crown corporation, established by legislation to promote and assist the financing and development of industry on Cape Breton Island, in order to provide employment outside the coal-producing industry and to broaden the base of the economy. By Order in Council, on August 31, 2005, ECBC became subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

ACOA delivers a wide variety of programs and services for aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners and managers, non-commercial organizations, communities, as well as academic and research institutions throughout the region.

In each provincial capital in Atlantic Canada, regional vice-presidents are responsible for the delivery of ACOA programs. In Sydney, Nova Scotia, the CEO of ECBC is responsible for delivering ACOA programs in Cape Breton. Each vice-president as well as the CEO of ECBC is equipped with delegated authorities from the Minister to approve most projects and proposals.

Through its Ottawa office, ACOA advocates on behalf of Atlantic Canadians in the development of national policies and programs, and assists Atlantic region entrepreneurs in the procurement of government contracts.

The ACOA Act provides for an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Board. The Board comprises the President of ACOA, and seven other members from various areas in Atlantic Canada. The President of ACOA is the Chairperson.

ADMINISTRATION OF THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT AND THE PRIVACY ACT

1. DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY

Copies of the delegation instruments for both pieces of legislation are attached as Annexes A and B. In order to ensure that requests under the Access to Information Act are processed without undue delay, the Agencys delegation of authority under the Act has been revised recently.

The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Director/Coordinator oversees the administration of the Acts and ensures compliance with the legislation. The Director/Coordinator reports to the Corporate Secretary, who in turn reports to the Vice-President of Finance and Corporate Services. The ATIP office also includes four officers and two support staff.

The administration of the legislation within the Agency is also facilitated at the branch and regional office levels. Each organizational sector has a Liaison Officer who co-ordinates the records retrieval process.

 

2. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

There were no significant changes to the Agencys ATIP policies or procedures during this fiscal year.

It is Agency policy to routinely release, in an informal manner, any information that does not qualify for an exemption or that is not excluded under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act.

The Agency supports improved accessibility of government information to the public. In this regard, it developed and implemented a web page that provides public access to a database of information on projects approved under many of its programs as well as other information that may be of public interest.

The web page is located at: www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/e/about/access.shtml .

 

3. INFORMATION HOLDINGS

A description of the classes of institutional records held by the Agency can be found in the Treasury Board of Canada publications entitled Info Source Sources of Federal Government Information and Sources of Federal Employee Information. It is to be noted that the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency does not have exempt banks.

The above-mentioned publications can be found in public and academic libraries, constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament, and on the Internet. The chapter produced by ACOA is also available at http://infosource.gc.ca/inst/aco/fed00_e.asp .

 

4. READING ROOM

The library at ACOAs Head Office in Moncton has been designated as the public reading room for the purpose of reviewing publications and other public materials. 

 

5. EDUCATION AND TRAINING ACTIVITIES

During this reporting period, the ATIP unit provided three information sessions on Access to Information and Privacy legislation. The sessions were provided to 48 employees from the Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island regional offices. Information sessions for employees in the New Brunswick regional office and Head Office will be held in the spring and fall of 2007.

ATIP employees continually sensitize and guide employees, third parties and requesters on the requirements of both pieces of legislation, by means of continuous dialogue.

 

6. COMPLAINTS

6.1 ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

Two complaints were filed against ACOA with the Office of the Information Commissioner during fiscal year 2006-2007. These, added to seven ongoing complaints, brought the caseload to nine active complaint files. Of these, two were resolved and were determined to have been well-founded. One of these two complaints pertained to the application of paragraphs 20(1)(b) and (c) of the Act. The other pertained to the application of paragraphs 20(1)(b)(c)(d) and 21(1)(c) of the Act.

In addition to the investigation of complaints made by individuals, the Agency is part of the ongoing Information Commissioners systemic investigation of 21 government institutions as a result of a complaint made by the Canadian Newspaper Association. The complainant alleges that the government treats access requests from members of the media with special scrutiny, resulting in unjustifiable delays. 

 

6.2 PRIVACY ACT

One complaint was filed against ACOA with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This, added to the ongoing file carried forward from the previous year, brought the caseload to two active complaint files. Both were discontinued by the complainants and no further action was required.

There were no appeals to the Courts against ACOA for either the Access to Information Act or Privacy Act. 

7. PRIVACY IMPACT ASSESSMENT

The Agency did not implement any policy or service delivery initiatives that could impact on the privacy of individuals. No Privacy Impact Assessments or Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessments were conducted during this reporting year.

 

8. AUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT

During this reporting year, the Agencys 8(2) disclosures were made pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(l). There were no other types of 8(2) disclosure made during 2006-2007.

9. DATA MATCHING AND SHARING ACTIVITIES

The Agency was not involved in any new data matching or sharing activities.

Internal sharing activities are carried out for recovery purposes in order to collect a debt owing to Her Majesty in right of Canada. This is done between program officers, recovery officers and/or legal services, as required.

The Agency may also undertake external sharing activities when a client file is referred to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for a possible criminal offence. This sharing is between the program officer responsible for the file, legal services and the RCMP.

 

INTERPRETATION OF THE REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

The following is provided to assist the reader in the interpretation of the information reported in Annex C.

 

I: REQUESTS PROCESSED

The Agencys caseload for 2006-2007 consisted of 97 requests. During this reporting period, 69 new requests were received and 28 requests were carried forward from the previous reporting period.

Businesses were the predominant access client group. During the reporting period, 24 (35%) of the requests were received from this group. The breakdown of requesters is as follow:



* This category includes known Information Brokers.
Media 19
Academic 0
Business * 24
Organization 13
Public 13

During 2006-2007, the Agency received 38 consultations from other governmental institutions; 36 were responded to during the fiscal year and two were carried forward to the next fiscal year. The Agency also initiated 112 consultations with other governmental institutions and 90 third-party notices pursuant to Section 27 of the Act during this reporting period.

 

II: DISPOSITION OF REQUESTS COMPLETED

Of the 80 requests completed during 2006-2007, the Agency granted access, in whole or in part, to the records on 58 occasions. Responses to the 58 requests involved the page-by-page review of approximately 42,000 pages of records. Of the remaining 22 requests:

  • eight were transferred to the federal department with greater interest;
  • eight were unable to be processed as no records existed;
  • three were abandoned by the requester;
  • two comprised records that were excluded in their entirety; and
  • one comprised records that were exempted in their entirety

 

III and IV: EXEMPTIONS INVOKED AND EXCLUSIONS CITED

As was the case in previous years, the two major exemptions invoked were related to the mandatory provisions on personal information (Section 19) and third-party information (Section 20). Refer to Annex D for statistics on the frequency of exemptions invoked, and exclusions cited for the last three reporting periods.

 

V and VI: COMPLETION TIME AND EXTENSIONS

The table below provides details on the completion time for the 72 files completed by ACOA during 2006-2007. The eight requests that were transferred to other federal departments are not accounted for in the completion time data.

  • 22 within 30 days or less (30%)
  • 13 within 31 to 60 days (18%)
  • 12 within 61 to 120 days (17%); and
  • 25 within 121 days or more (35%).

Extensions beyond the prescribed time limit of 30 days were required in 78 instances where the Agency had to search through a large number of records, to consult with other government institutions, and/or to notify third parties pursuant to Section 27 of the Act.

  • 9(1)(a) - searching time: 15
  • 9(1)(b) - consultation: 28
  • 9(1)(c) - third parties: 35

 

VII: TRANSLATION

The translation of information requested was not required during this fiscal year.

 

VIII: METHOD OF ACCESS

In most cases where access was granted during the past three fiscal years, the Agency provided copies of records, in whole or in part, to the requesters. The Agency responded to several requests via e-mail, and provided responses in electronic format when requested. In 2006-2007, there was one case where the documents requested were reviewed in-house.

 

IX: FEES

The Access to Information Act authorizes fees for certain activities related to the processing of formal requests under the Act. In addition to a $5 application fee, search, preparation and reproduction charges may also apply. The current fee structure is specified in the Access to Information Regulations. No fees are imposed for reviewing records, overhead or shipping costs. Moreover, in accordance with Section 11 of the Act, no fees are charged for the first five hours required to search for records, or to prepare any part of these records for disclosure.

In accordance with Treasury Board guidelines, the Agency routinely waives fees under $25. For fees over $25, the Agency examines fee waiver requests on a case-by-case basis. In considering such requests, the Agency has taken into account costs in processing each access application, and the degree of public benefit to be derived from the release of the accessible information. For this fiscal year, the Agency has collected $161 for reproduction fees.

Of the 69 requests received, the Agency waived the application fees for five. One was determined to be in the public interest; one was abandoned by the requester; one was a request for which no documents were disclosed; and one was divided into three separate requests. A total of $481 was collected in the reporting period for application and reproduction fees. ACOA waived applicable fees totalling $4,357.

 

X: COSTS

In 2006-2007, the direct cost of administering the Access to Information Act, including the cost of providing information and training sessions, totalled $437,096. This amount represents $404,449 in salary costs for 6.65 person-years and $32,646 for administration costs.

INTERPRETATION OF THE REPORT ON THE PRIVACY ACT

The following is provided to assist the reader in the interpretation of the information reported in Annex E.

Due to its legislative mandate, ACOA collects a limited amount of personal information. There were two requests submitted under the Privacy Act in 2006-2007. One of these requests necessitated an extension for consultation with another government department. The Agency granted access in part for both requests. Sections 26 and 27 were invoked to protect personal information about another individual and solicitor-client privilege information. Responses to these requests involved the page-by-page review of approximately 3,000 pages of records.

The cost of administering the Privacy Act, including training sessions, totalled $23,005, consisting of $21,286 in salary costs for 0.35 person-years and $1,718 in administration costs.

 

Annex A

Approved on: December 14, 2006
ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT DELEGATION INSTRUMENT
Section of the Access to Information Act Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services Corporate Secretary Coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy
7(a) Notice where access requested X X X
8(1) Transfer to/transfer from institution X X X
9 Extension of time limits X X X
11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) Additional fees X X X
12(2)(3) Language of access and alternative format X X X
13 Information obtained in confidence X X  
14 Federal-Provincial affairs X X  
15(1) International affairs and defence X X  
16 Law enforcement and investigations X X  
17 Safety of individuals X X  
18 Economic interests of Canada X X  
19 Personal information X X  
20 Third-party information X X  
21 Advice X X  
22 Testing procedures X X  
23 Solicitor/client privilege X X  
24 Statutory prohibitions X X  
25 Severance X X X
26 Information to be published X X  
27(1)(4) Third-party notification X X X
28(1)(2)(4) Third-party notification X X X
29(1) Disclosure on recommendation of Information Commissioner X X  
33 Advise Information Commissioner of third-party involvement X X X
35(2) Right to make representations X X X
37(4) Access to be given complainant X X X
43(1) Notice to third parties (application to Federal Court for review) X X X
44(2) Notice to applicant (application to Federal Court by third party) X X X
52(2)&(3) Special rules for hearings X X X
69 Excluded information X X  

 

 

Annex B

Approved on: June 25, 2003
PRIVACY ACT DELEGATION INSTRUMENT
Section of the Privacy Act Vice President, Finance and Corporate Services Corporate Secretary Coordinator, Access to Information and Privacy
8(2)(j) Disclose personal information for research purposes X X X
8(2)(m) Disclose personal information in the public interest or in the interest of the individual X X X
8(4) Retain copy of 8(2)(e) requests and disclosed records X X X
8(5) Notify Privacy Commissioner of 8(2)(m) disclosures X X X
9(1) Retain record of use X X X
9(4) Notify Privacy Commissioner of consistent use and amend index X X X
10 Include personal information in personal information banks X X X
14 Respond to request for access within 30 days; give access or give notice X X X
15 Extend time limit for responding to request for access X X X
17(2)(b) Decide whether to translate requested information X X X
18(2) May refuse to disclose information contained in an exempt bank X    
19(1) Shall refuse to disclose information obtained in confidence from another government X    
19(2) May disclose any information referred to in 19(1) if the other government consents to the disclosure or makes the information public X    
20 May refuse to disclose information injurious to the conduct of federal-provincial affairs X    
21 May refuse to disclose information injurious to international affairs or defence X    
22 May refuse to disclose information prepared by an investigative body, information injurious to the enforcement of a law, or information injurious to the security of penal institutions X    
23 May refuse to disclose information prepared by an investigative body for security clearances X    
24 May refuse to disclose information collected by the Canadian Penitentiary Service, the National Parole Service or the National Parole Board while individual was under sentence if conditions in section are met. X    
25 May refuse to disclose information which could threaten the safety of individuals X    
26 May refuse to disclose information about another individual, and shall refuse to disclose such information where disclosure is prohibited under Section 8 X    
27 May refuse to disclose information subject to solicitor-client privilege X    
28 May refuse to disclose information relating to the individuals physical or mental health where disclosure is contrary to the best interests of the individual X    
31 Receive notice of investigation by the Privacy Commissioner X X X
33(2) Right to make representations to the Privacy Commissioner during an investigation X X X
35(1) Receive Privacy Commissioners report of findings of the investigation and give notice of action taken X X X
35(4) Give complainant access to information after 35(1)(b) notice X X X
36(3) Receive Privacy Commissioners report of findings of investigation of exempt bank X X X
37(3) Receive report of Privacy Commissioners findings after compliance investigation X X X
51(2)(b) Request that Section 51 hearing be held in the National Capital Region X X X
51(3) Request and be given right to make representations in Section 51 hearings X X X

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Annex C
Government
Of Canada
REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORAMTION ACT
Institution Reporting period
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 04/01/06 03/31/07
  Media Academia Business Organization Public
Source 19 0 24 13 13

 

I Requests under the Access to Information Act
Received during reporting period 69
Outstanding from previous period 28
TOTAL 97
Completed during reporting period 80
Carried forward 17

 

II Disposition of requests completed
1 All disclosed 12
2 Disclosed in part 46
3 Nothing disclosed (excluded) 2
4 Nothing disclosed (exempt) 1
5 Transferred 8
6 Unable to process 8
7 Abandoned by applicant 3
8 Treated informally 0
TOTAL 80

 

III Exemptions invoked
S.
Art. 13(1)
(a) 1
  (b) 0
  (c) 3
  (d) 0
S.
Art. 14
  3
S.
Art. 15 (1)
International rel. 0
  Defence 0
  Subversive activities 0
S.
Art. 16(1)
(a) 1
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
  (d) 0
S.
Art. 16(2)
  10
S.
Art. 16(3)
  0
S.
Art. 17
  0
S.
Art. 18
(a) 0
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
  (d) 0
S.
Art. 19(1)
  33
S.
Art. 20(1)
(a) 3
  (b) 29
  (c) 19
  (d) 25
S.
Art. 21 (1)
(a) 13
  (b) 24
  (c) 26
  (d) 4
S.
Art. 22
  0
S.
Art. 23
  4
S.
Art. 24
  2
S.
Art. 26
  0

 

IV Exclusions cited
S.
Art. 68
(a) 9
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
S.
Art. 69 (1)
(a) 2
  (b) 0
  (c) 1
  (d) 0
  (e) 0
  (f) 0
  (g) 5

 

V Completion time
30 days or under 29
31 to 60 days 14
61 to 120 days 12
121 or over 25

 

VI Extensions
  30 days or under 31 days or over
Searching 0 15
Consultation 28 0
Third Party 11 24
TOTAL 39 39

 

VII Translations
Translations requested 0
Translation prepared English to French 0
French to English 0

 

VIII Method of access
Copies given 57
Examination 0
Copies and examination 1

 

IX Fees
Net fees collected
Application fees $320.00 Preparation $0.00
Reproduction $161.20 Computer processing $0.00
Searching $0.00 TOTAL $481.20
Fees waived No. of times  
$25.00 or under 38 $211.60
Over $25.00 33 $4,145.90

 

X Costs
Financial (all reasons)
Salary $404,449.50
Administration (O and M) $32,646.60
TOTAL $437,096.10
Person year utilization (all reasons)
Person year (decimal format) 6.65

 

 

Annex D
Frequency of exemptions invoked and exclusions cited, by sections of the Access to Information Act
(Please note that the section is only reported once for each request)

Section Description of the Section Frequency
2006-2007 2005-2006 2004-2005
13(1)(a) Information obtained in confidence from a foreign state government 1 0 0
13(1)(c) Information obtained in confidence from a provincial government 3 2 7
13(1)(d) Information obtained in confidence from a municipal or regional government 0 0 2
14 Federal-provincial affairs 3 5 19
14(a) Federal-provincial consultations or deliberations 1 4 9
14(b) Strategy to tactics adopted by the Government of Canada relating to fed-prov 0 1 4
15(1) International affairs and defence 0 0 1
16(1)(a) Law enforcement and investigations 1 0 5
16(1)(c) Law enforcement and investigations 0 0 1
16(2) Law enforcement and investigations - Security 10 23 37
18(a) Economic interests of Canada - Trade secrets or financial 0 0 1
18(b) Economic interests of Canada - Prejudice the competitive position of a government institution 0 1 1
18(d) Economic interests of Canada - Material injurious to the financial interests 0 1 5
19(1) Personal information as defined in the Privacy Act 33 57 59
20(1)(a) Third-party information - Trade secrets of a third party 3 1 4
20(1)(b) Third-party confidential information 29 50 62
20(1)(c) Third-party information - Financial loss or gain, or could prejudice the competitive position of a third party 19 39 64
20(1)(d) Third-party information - Interference with negotiations of a third party 25 48 69
21(1)(a) Advice or recommendations by or for the government or Minister of the Crown 13 19 30
21(1)(b) Account of consultations or deliberations of government or Minister of the Crown 24 36 52
21(1)(c) Positions or plans for negotiations carried by or on behalf of the Government of Canada 26 42 53
21(1)(d) Plans relating to the management of personnel or administration of a government institution not yet put into operation 4 8 12
23 Solicitor-client privilege 4 4 7
24 Statutory prohibitions against disclosure 2 1 1
26 Refusal of access where information to be published 0 0 2
68(a) Act does not apply to certain materials - Materials published or available for purchase by the public 9 4 5
69(1)(a) Confidences of the Queens Privy Council for Canada - Memoranda 2 0 0
69(1)(c) Confidences of the Queens Privy Council for Canada - Agenda and Records of Cabinet Deliberations 1 0 1
69(1)(e) Confidences of the Queens Privy Council for Canada - Records to brief ministers 0 1 4
69(1)(g) Confidences of the Queens Privy Council for Canada - Records containing information re (a) to (f) 5 2 7

 

 

 

Annex E
Government
Of Canada
REPORT ON THE PRIVACY ACT
Institution Reporting period
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency 04/01/06 03/31/07

 

I Requests under the Privacy Act
Received during reporting period 2
Outstanding from previous period 0
TOTAL 2
Completed during reporting period 2
Carried forward 0

 

II Disposition of requests completed
1 All disclosed 0
2 Disclosed in part 2
3 Nothing disclosed (excluded) 0
4 Nothing disclosed (exempt) 0
5 Unable to process 0
6 Abandoned by applicant 0
7 Transferred 0
TOTAL 2

 

III Exemptions invoked
S.
Art. 18 (2)
  0
S.
Art. 19(1)
(a) 0
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
  (d) 0
S.
Art. 20
  0
S.
Art.21
  0
S.
Art. 22(1)
(a) 0
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
S.
Art. 23
(a) 0
  (b) 0
S.
Art. 24
  0
S.
Art. 25
  0
S.
Art. 26
  1
S.
Art. 27
  1
S.
Art. 28
  0

 

IV Exclusions cited
S.
Art. 69 (1)
(a) 0
  (b) 0
S.
Art. 70(1)
(a) 0
  (b) 0
  (c) 0
  (d) 0
  (e) 0
  (f) 0

 

V Completion time
30 days or under 0
31 to 60 days 0
61 to 120 days 2
121 or over 0

 

VI Extensions
  30 days or under 31 days or over
Interference with operations 0 0
Consultation 1 0
Translation 0 0
TOTAL 1 0

 

VII Translations
Translations requested 0
Translation
prepared
English to French 0
French to English 0

 

VIII Method of access
Copies given 2
Examination 0
Copies and examination 0

 

IX Corrections and notations
Corrections requested 0
Corrections made 0
Notation attached 0

 

X Costs
Financial (all reasons)
Salary $21,286.80
Administration (O and M) $ 1,718.20
TOTAL $23,005.10
Person year utilization (all reasons)
Person year (decimal format) 0.35