Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Symbol of the Government of Canada

2017-2018 Annual Report on the Access to Information Act

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Organizational Structure
3. Delegation of Authority
4. Highlights of the Statistical Report
5. Training and Awareness Activities
6. Policies, Guidelines, Procedures and Initiatives
7. Complaints and Audits
8. Monitoring
Annex A – Delegation Order
Annex B – Statistical Report

Report on the Access to Information Act

1. Introduction

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any individual or corporation present in Canada the right of access to records under the control of a government institution, subject to limited and specific exceptions. The Act further provides that decisions on the non-disclosure of information can be reviewed independently of government.

This report is prepared in accordance with section 72 of the Act, which requires that the head of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) prepare, for tabling in Parliament, an annual report on the administration of the Act. This report will be published on ACOA’s website.

ACOA’s mandate is to increase opportunity for economic development in Atlantic Canada and, more particularly, to enhance the growth of earned incomes and employment opportunities in that region. Additional information is available on ACOA’s website (http://www.acoa-apeca.gc.ca/Eng/Pages/Home.aspx).

2. Organizational Structure

The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Directorate oversees the administration of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. It consists of a director (ATIP coordinator) and one support staff member located at ACOA’s head office in Moncton, N.B. The ATIP coordinator is responsible for the processing of all access and privacy requests as well as the development, coordination and implementation of effective policies, guidelines and procedures to manage the Agency’s compliance with the ATIP acts.

The ATIP coordinator also reviews various documents before publication to ensure that they do not contain information that would be subject to exemption or exclusion under the acts. During this reporting period, records prepared in response to 89 written parliamentary questions were reviewed.

The administration of the legislation within ACOA is also facilitated at the branch and regional office levels. Each sector and corporate branch has a liaison officer (generally reporting to the deputy minister or an assistant deputy minister), who coordinates the records-retrieval process. In addition, a casual employee was hired for two months and an ACOA employee was assigned to the ATIP Directorate for approximately three months to assist with the workload in 2017-2018.

3. Delegation of Authority

For the purpose of the Access to Information Act, the President delegated full authority to the vice-president, Finance and Corporate Services and Corporate Secretary, and partial authority to the ATIP coordinator.

A copy of the signed delegation instrument for the Access to Information Act is attached in Annex A.

4. Highlights of the Statistical Report

The following is provided to assist the reader in interpreting the information reported in Annex B.

Number of requests received and closed

The Agency received 20 requests in 2017-2018. This represents a decrease of 39 per cent over the previous period. A total of 23 requests were closed in 2017‑2018, three of which were reported from the previous period. This represents a decrease of approximately 27 per cent over the previous period. Records were disclosed in full in response to one request and in part in response to 19 requests. Paper copies of the records were provided in response to 13 requests, and electronic versions of the records were provided in response to 7 requests. One request was abandoned, and the Agency had no records for the remaining two requests.

The following table shows the trend in the number of requests closed, by source, over the last ten fiscal years. Over 50 per cent of the requests closed during the reporting period were submitted by requesters who identified themselves as members of the public when submitting their request.

SOURCE 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018
Media 9 6 11 28 20 8 7 0 5 5
Business 13 6 6 3 4 6 11 11 10 5
Organization 7 4 13 3 2 8 4 3 5 0
Public 5 7 16 4 10 6 18 11 11 12
Academia 3 0 0 1 0 0 2 0 1 1
Declined to identify 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 37 23 46 39 36 28 42 25 32 23

Exemptions and exclusions

As in the last 10 fiscal years, the three major exemptions invoked were those related to the sections of the Act pertaining to personal information (section 19), third party information (section 20) and the operations of government (section 21).

Paragraph 68(a) of the Act was invoked to exclude information already in the public domain in the responses to three separate requests. The records relevant to the requests submitted this fiscal year did not contain or refer to Cabinet confidences; therefore, no information was excluded under section 69 of the Act.

Complexities

Processing the 20 access requests for which records were disclosed in 2017-2018 involved reviewing 14,967 pages of records. Of those pages, 1,865 were identified as duplicates, 1,805 were identified as outside the scope of the requests, 4,955 were withheld in their entirety, and 6,342 were disclosed in part or in their entirety. The following table provides additional information regarding the pages disclosed.

Number of requests Number of pages processed Total pages disclosed
7 between 1 and 100 pages 255
7 between 101 and 500 pages 1,195
0 between 501 and 1,000 pages 0
6 between 1,001 and 5,000 pages 4,892

Fourteen requests required that the Agency initiate consultations, as described below, regarding the disclosure of 4,876 pages.

  • 935 notices to third parties pursuant to section 27 of the Act;
  • 1 notice to a third party pursuant to section 28 of the Act; and
  • 9 consultations with other government institutions.

Extensions

The statutory time limit to respond was extended for 18 access requests, as follows:

Number of requests Length of extension
1 30 days or less
12 31 to 90 days
2 91 to 120 days
3 121 days or more

Extensions were taken pursuant to paragraphs:

  • 9(1)(a) – where the request was for a large number of records, required a search through a large number of records, and/or meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the Agency;
  • 9(1)(b) – consultations were necessary and could not be completed within the original time limit; and/or
  • 9(1)(c) – where notice of the request and of the Agency’s intention to disclose information must be given to third parties pursuant to subsection 27(1) of the Act.

Reasons for not meeting the statutory deadline

Four requests were closed late in 2017-2018; two responses were late because of the number of pages to process, and the other two were late because of the time required to complete the consultation process with third parties. The percentage of requests closed on time this year decreased to 83 per cent, from 91 per cent in 2016-2017.

The following table provides details on the response time for the past ten years:

Fiscal year No. of responses on time / Total No. of requests Percentage of responses provided on time
2008-2009 18/37 49%
2009-2010 17/23 74%
2010-2011 27/46 59%
2011-2012 19/39 49%
2012-2013 22/36 61%
2013-2014 16/28 57%
2014-2015 36/42 86%
2015-2016 20/25 80%
2016-2017 29/32 91%
2017-2018 19/23 83%

Fees

The Access to Information Act authorizes the collection of a $5 application fee. Other fees could have been applied as specified in the Access to Information Regulations.

The Agency collected a total of $95 to cover the application fees for 19 of the 23 requests closed during the reporting period. The Agency waived the fee for two requests, and no application fees were collected for an abandoned request and for a request that was transferred from another institution. The Agency also waived search fees totalling $1,207 and reproduction fees totalling $1,253.

Consultations

In 2017-2018, the Agency responded to a total of 90 consultations received from other federal government institutions and provincial governments (an increase of 75 per cent over the previous reporting period). The consultations involved the review of 1,185 pages. Only three responses were late: one by 1 day, one by 3 days and the other one by 5 days because of the time required to consult the office of primary interest.

Costs

In 2017-2018, the total cost of administering the Access to Information Act was $205,596. This amount includes $197,465 in salary costs and $8,131 in operations and maintenance costs (licenses for systems, travel, training, etc.).

Compared to the previous reporting period, this represents an increase of $24,320 to cover salary costs for temporary ATIP staff to assist with the workload and salary increases in accordance with the new collective agreement. A decrease of $5,743 in administrative costs is related to a reduction in travel.

5. Training and Awareness Activities

Awareness sessions on the requirements of the Access to Information Act are made available upon request to all employees of the Agency. No formal sessions were provided during the fiscal year.

Many informal briefings were provided to Agency employees who requested information on the requirements of the Act during the reporting period.

6. Policies, Guidelines, Procedures amd Initiatives 

In accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada Interim Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, which took effect on May 5, 2016, the Agency continues to waive all fees prescribed by the Act and Regulations other than the application fee.

The Agency did not implement any other new or revised access to information policies, guidelines or procedures during the reporting period.

7. Complaints and Audits

Requesters may register a complaint with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) regarding any matter related to the processing of their request.

An investigation into a complaint regarding the extension taken to process a request received in 2017-2018 was closed in December 2017 with no further action required by the Agency. There are no outstanding complaints.

No audits were concluded during the reporting period.

8. Monitoring

No monitoring was conducted during the reporting period.

Annex A

The Access to Information Act Delegation Order

Pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the President of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency hereby designates the persons holding the positions identified in the Delegation Instrument to exercise or perform any of the powers, duties or functions of the President as the head of the government institution under this Act.

Original signed by the President for the purpose of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Act on July 24, 2017.

Access to Information Act Delegation Instrument

The Vice-President of Finance and Corporate Services and Corporate Secretary has been delegated responsibility for the following sections of the Act:

4(2.1) Responsibility of government institution
7(a) Notice where access requested
7(b) Giving access to record
8(1) Transfer of request to another institution
9 Extension of time limits
11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) Additional fees
12(2)(b) Language of access
12(3)(b) Access in an alternative format
13 Exemption - Information obtained in confidence
14 Exemption - Federal-Provincial affairs
15 Exemption - International affairs and defence
16 Exemption - Law enforcement and investigations
17 Exemption - Safety of individuals
18 Exemption - Economic interests of Canada
19 Exemption - Personal information
20 Exemption ‑ Third party information
21 Exemption ‑ Advice
22 Exemption ‑ Testing procedures, tests and audits
23 Exemption ‑ Solicitor/client privilege
24 Exemption ‑ Statutory prohibitions
25 Severability
26 Exception - Information to be published
27(1), (4) Third party notification
28(1)(b), (2), (4) Third party notification
29(1) Where the Information Commissioner recommends disclosure
33 Advising the Information Commissioner of third‑party involvement
35(2)(b) Right to make representations
37(4) Access to be given to complainant
43(1) Notice to third party (application to Federal Court for review)
44(2) Notice to applicant (application to Federal Court by third party)
52(2)(b), (3) Special rules for hearings
71(1) Facilities for inspection of manuals
72 Annual report to Parliament

Sections of the Access to Information Regulations

6(1) Transfer of request
7(2) Search and preparation fees
7(3) Production and programming fees
8 Providing access to record(s)
8.1 Limitations in respect of format

The Director/Coordinator of Access to Information and Privacy has been delegated responsibility for the following sections of the Act:

4(2.1) Responsibility of government institution
7(a) Notice where access requested
8(1) Transfer of request to another institution
9 Extension of time limits
11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) Additional fees
12(2)(b) Language of access
12(3)(b) Access in an alternative format
27(1), (4) Third party notification
28(1)(b), (2), (4) Third party notification
29(1) Where the Information Commissioner recommends disclosure
33 Advising the Information Commissioner of third-party involvement
35(2)(b) Right to make representations
43(1) Notice to third party (application to Federal Court for review)
44(2) Notice to applicant (application to Federal Court by third party)
52(2)(b), (3) Special rules for hearings
71(1) Facilities for inspection of manuals
72 Annual report to Parliament

Sections of the Access to Information Regulations

6(1) Transfer of request
7(2) Search and preparation fees
7(3) Production and programming fees
8.1 Limitations in respect of format

Annex B

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Name of Institution: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
Reporting period: April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018

Part 1: Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requests

Number of requests
Received during reporting period 20
Outstanding from previous reporting period 3
Total 23
Closed during reporting period 23
Carried over to next reporting period 0

1.2 Sources of requests

Source Number of requests
Media 3
Academia 1
Business (private sector) 5
Organization 0
Public 11
Decline to Identify 0
Total 20

1.3 Informal requests

Completion time of 1 to 15 days Completion time of 16 to 30 days Completion time of 31 to 60 days Completion time of 61 to 120 days
13 5 0 0

1.3 Informal requests (continued)

Completion time of 121 to 180 days Completion time of 181 to 36 days Completion time of more than 365 days Total
0 0 0 18

Part 2: Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

Disposition of requests 1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days
All disclosed 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 0 1 2 11
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 2 0 0 0
Request transferred 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 1 0 0 6
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0
Total 3 1 2 18

2.1 Disposition and completion time (continued)

Disposition of requests 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
All disclosed 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 2 3 0 19
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 2
Request transferred 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 1
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0
Total 2 3 0 23

2.2 Exemptions

Section Number of requests
13(1)(a) 0
13(1)(b) 0
13(1)(c) 4
13(1)(d) 0
13(1)(e) 0
14 0
14(a) 4
14(b) 2
15(1) 0
15(1) - International Affairs 0
15(1) ‑ Defence of Canada. 0
15(1) ‑ Subversive Activities 0
16(1)(a)(i) 0
16(1)(a)(ii) 0
16(1)(a)(iii) 0
16(1)(b) 0
16(1)(c) 0
16(1)(d) 0
16(2) 0
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 2
16(3) 0
16.1(1)(a) 0
16.1(1)(b) 0
16.1(1)(c) 0
16.1(1)(d) 0
16.2(1) 0
16.3 0
16.4(1)(a) 0
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 0
17 0
18(a) 0
18(b) 0
18(c) 0
18(d) 0
18.1(1)(a) 0
18.1(1)(b) 0
18.1(1)(c) 0
18.1(1)(d) 0
19(1) 18
20(1)(a) 0
20(1)(b) 17
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(c) 6
20(1)(d) 15
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 6
21(1)(b) 11
21(1)(c) 11
21(1)(d) 0
22 0
22.1(1) 0
23 3
24(1) 0
26 0

2.3 Exclusions

Section Number of requests
68(a) 3
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 0
68.2(b) 0
69(1) 0
69(1)(a) 0
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 0
69(1)(d) 0
69(1)(e) 0
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re (a) 0
69(1)(g) re (b) 0
69(1)(g) re (c) 0
69(1)(g) re (d) 0
69(1)(g) re (e) 0
69(1)(g) re (f) 0
69.1(1) 0

2.4 Format of information released

Disposition Paper Electronic Other Formats
All disclosed 1 0 0
Disclosed in part 12 7 0
Total 13 7 0

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed

Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests
All disclosed 2 2 1
Disclosed in part 14,965 6,340 19
All exempted 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 1
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests

Disposition Number of requests that had less then 100 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 101 to 500 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 501 to 1,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
All disclosed 1 2 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 6 253 7 1195 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 1 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 8 255 7 1,195 0 0

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests (continued)

Disposition Number of requests that had 1,001 to 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had more than 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
All disclosed 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 6 4,892 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0
Total 6 4,892 0 0

2.5.3 Other complexities

Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Other Total
All disclosed 1 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 13 0 0 0 13
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0
Total 14 0 0 0 14

2.6 Deemed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline

Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline Workload was the principal reason External consultation was the principal reason Internal consultation was the principal reason Other
4 2 2 0 0

2.6.2 Number of days past deadline

Number of days past deadline Number of requests past deadline where no extension was taken Number of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 0 1 1
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 0 0
61 to 120 days 0 1 1
121 to 180 days 0 1 1
181 to 365 days 0 1 1
More than 365 days 0 0 0
Total 0 4 4

2.7 Requests for translation

Translation requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

Part 3: Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

Disposition of requests where an extension was taken 9(1)(a) Interference with operations 9(1)(b) Consultation - section 69 9(1)(b) Consultation - other 9(1)(c) Third-party notice
All disclosed 0 0 0 1
Disclosed in part 15 0 12 6
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0
Total 15 0 12 7

3.2 Length of extensions

Length of extensions 9(1)(a) Interference with operations 9(1)(b) Consultation - section 69 9(1)(b) Consultation‑ other 9(1)(c) Third-party notice
30 days or less 3 0 10 2
31 to 60 days 11 0 0 3
61 to 120 days 0 0 2 0
121 to 180 days 1 0 0 2
181 to 365 days 0 0 0 0
365 days or more 0 0 0 0
Total 15 0 12 7

Part 4: Fees

Fee Type Number of Requests Amount of fees collected Number of Requests Amount of fees waived or refunded
Application 19 $95.00 2 $10.00
Search 0 $0.00 17 $1,207.00
Production 0 $0.00 0 $0
Programming 0 $0.00 0 $0
Preparation 0 $0.00 0 $0
Alternative format 0 $0.00 0 $0
Reproduction 0 $0.00 18 $1,253.00
Total 19 $95.00 37 $2,470.00

Part 5: Consultations Received from Other Institutions and Organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and organizations

Consultations Other Government of Canada institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 89 1,176 1 4
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 1 12 0 0
Total 90 1,188 1 4
Closed during the reporting period 89 1,185 1 4
Pending at the end of the reporting period 1 3 0 0

5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions

Recommendation 1 to 15 days were required to complete consultation requests 16 to 30 days were required to complete consultation requests 31 to 60 days were required to complete consultation requests 61 to 120 days were required to complete consultation requests
Disclose entirely 42 0 0 0
Disclose in part 33 14 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0
Total 75 14 0 0

5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions (Continued)

Recommendation 121 to 180 days were required to complete consultation requests 181 to 365 days were required to complete consultation requests More than 365 days were required to complete consultation requests Total number of consultations
Disclose entirely 0 0 0 42
Disclose in part 0 0 0 47
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 89

5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

Recommendation 1 to 15 days were required to complete consultation requests 16 to 30 days were required to complete consultation requests 31 to 60 days were required to complete consultation requests 61 to 120 days were required to complete consultation requests
Disclose entirely 1 0 0 0
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0
Total 1 0 0 0

5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations (continued)

Recommendation 121 to 180 days were required to complete consultation requests 181 to 365 days were required to complete consultation requests More than 365 days were required to complete consultation requests Total number of consultations
Disclose entirely 0 0 0 1
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 1

Part 6: Completion time of consultations on Cabinet Confidences

6.1 Requests with Legal Services

Number of days Number of requests that had fewer than 100 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 101 to 500 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 501 to 1,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0

6.1 Requests with Legal Services (continued)

Number of Days Number of Requests that had 1,001 to 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of Requests that had more than 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0

6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office

Number of Days Number of requests that had fewer than 100 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 101 to 500 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of requests that had 501 to 1,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0

6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office (continued)

Number of Days Number of Requests that had 1,001 to 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed Number of Requests that had more than 5,000 pages processed Pages disclosed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0

Part 7: Complaints and Investigations

Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
1 0 1 2

Part 8: Court Action

Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 0 0

Part 9: Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs

Expenditures Amount
Salaries $197,465.00
Overtime $0.00
Goods and Services (Other) $8,131.00
Total $205,596.00

9.2 Human Resources

Resources Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees 2.30
Part-time and casual employees 0.00
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00
Students 0.00
Total 2.30