Annual Report, Access to Information Act, 2009-2010

INTRODUCTION

The Access to Information Act provides a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution in accordance with the principles that government information should be available to the public and that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific.

Section 72 of the Access to Information Act requires that the head of every federal government institution submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of this Act during the fiscal year.  This report describes how the Correctional Service Canada (CSC) fulfilled its access to information responsibilities during the reporting period covering 2009–2010.

ORGANIZATION

CSC contributes to public safety by administering court-imposed sentences for offenders sentenced to two years or more.  This involves managing institutions (penitentiaries) of various security levels and supervising offenders on different forms of conditional release, while assisting them to become law-abiding citizens.  CSC also administers post-sentence supervision of offenders with Long Term Supervision Orders for up to 10 years.

CSC works closely with its Public Safety Portfolio partners, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the National Parole Board, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and three review bodies, including the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

CSC manages a broad range of information holdings which relate to its five major program activities: Custody, Correctional Interventions, Community Supervision, Corcan, and Internal Services.  As a result of its mandate CSC also collects a substantial amount of personal information.

THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PRIVACY DIVISION

CSC is organized into three levels of management: national, regional and local operations. The Access to Information and Privacy Division reports to the Director General of Rights, Redress and Resolution, under the Policy Sector, and is responsible for the overall administration of the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. In addition, each region and institution has an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) liaison which assists the national ATIP Division in administering its overall responsibilities.

The responsibilities of the ATIP Division are:

  • respond to access to information and privacy requests including consultation requests from other government institutions and informal requests for information;
  • respond to public and internal inquiries relating to the administration of the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act;
  • promote awareness and providing training regarding the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act and related policies and guidelines;
  • develop corporate-wide Access to Information and Privacy policies and practices to guide access to and protection of personal information;
  • oversee and manage privacy breaches;
  • coordinate and oversee the Privacy Impact Assessment Process;
  • revise Info Source and modify information holdings and personal information banks as required;
  • Liaise and coordinate efforts with Information and Privacy Commissioners, other government departments and agencies and other key stakeholders;
  • Analyse privacy practices in relation to CSC programs and policies.

As highlighted in our 2008/2009 Annual Report, that year had been a year of transition and rebuilding for the ATIP Division.  In view of CSC ATIP's structural changes, which ensured that it had a strong management team, the possibility to recruit senior ATIP analysts who were knowledgeable and experienced in dealing with sensitive information and public safety issues became achievable.

In December 2009, CSC ATIP was also one of the twenty-four departments subjected to a report card issued by the Information Commissioner of Canada.  In this report card, the OIC raised serious concerns regarding the compliance rate in meeting the legislative timeframes in 2008/2009.  It was agreed that the compliance rate that fiscal year was low.  However, with the retention of the current staff, promotion of job advancement opportunities for experienced analysts within the Division, and in-house training, the compliance rate improved to 74% by March 31, 2010.  The previous year's compliance rate was only 44%.

There are a total of 56 Full-Term Equivalents in the CSC ATIP Division.

TRAINING AND AWARENESS

During the reporting period, a fundamental role was played by the Policy and Training unit which delivered an extensive training program geared to CSC ATIP.  Training was also provided to numerous sectors at National Headquarters, the Regional Headquarters for the Pacific and Prairie regions and 8 institutions, in person or by videoconferencing.   This venture is continuing in the upcoming fiscal year.

The training consisted of ATIP related matters, such as processing requests under both the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act, privacy breaches, Privacy Impact Assessments, and other related policies and guidelines.

The unit consisted of one deputy director and one senior analyst.  Due to the increased awareness  in all ATIP-related matters, this unit will most likely require additional resources in the upcoming year.

WORKLOAD

As identified in previous Annual Reports, recruitment and training of new ATIP analysts, combined with its usual number of highly complex and sensitive requests, provides an ongoing challenge for CSC ATIP to meet its legislative deadlines. With more training and mentoring, and with increased retention of the current ATIP staff, compliance rates should continue to increase in future reporting years.

STATISTICS

In 2009-2010, CSC received 480 Access to Information Act requests, which marks a slight increase from fiscal year 2008-2009; 76 requests were outstanding from the previous reporting period for a total of 556 requests.  Eighty-five requests were carried forward into 2010-2011.

The Division completed 471 requests during the reporting period which was a slight increase of 16 requests from the previous year.  As noted in last year's report fewer requests were carried over in 2009/2010 due to the experienced senior ATIP analysts and their diligence in responding within the statutory deadlines.

In addition to formal Access to Information Act requests, the Division processed 83 consultation requests from other government institutions, and 36 informal requests which consist of internal evaluation reports to be posted to CSC's website.

The majority of requests (355) were made by the public for various information holdings under the control of CSC.   Seventy-seven requests were made by the media, 41 by the business sector and 7 from other organizations.  Requests made were for a wide-range of information, including general information relating to CSC programs and operations, contracts and requests for temporary help services and Boards of Investigation.

Exemptions

Of the 471 requests completed during this reporting period, full disclosure was provided in response to 80 requests and partial disclosure was provided in 174 cases. Information was withheld in its entirety in 58 cases and in 10 cases where the information was excluded.  CSC was unable to process 78 requests; 64 were abandoned; and 7 were transferred to other federal government institutions.

A breakdown of the exemptions/exclusions applied during this reporting period is as follows:

Exemption/Exclusion Description Number of times applied
Information obtained in Confidence 21
Federal Provincial Affairs 3
International Affairs and Defence 11
Law Enforcement and Investigation 236
Economic Interests 32
Personal Information 184
Third Party Information 37
Operations of Government (Advice) 53
Testing Procedures 10
Solicitor-Client Privilege 19
Statutory prohibitions 4
Information to be published 2
Published for Library/Museum Material 23
Cabinet Confidences 2

Method of Access

Of the 254 requests completed during this reporting period, copies were provided in 249 cases, where information was available for release.  In five cases, examination was requested and copies were subsequently given in four cases.

Extensions

A total of 98 extensions were required during this reporting period, as shown in the chart below.

Extensions
Less 30 days Over 30 days
Searching 12 22
Consultation 15 32
Third Party 0 17

Completion Time

During the reporting period, CSC completed 270 requests in less than 30 days; 87 between 31 and 60 days; 68 requests between 61 to 120 days; and 46 were closed over 121 days.  The majority of the requests which required extensive processing time resulted from mandatory consultations with other federal government departments.

Fees

A total of $5,238.60 was collected as per Access to Information Act regulations.  Application fees totaling $1,910.00 were collected and the initial $5.00 application fee for requests relating to Boards of Investigation reports was waived in light of the duty to assist.

Complaints

During the reporting period, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) notified CSC of 65 complaints made against CSC in relation to requests for information. At the end of this reporting period, eight findings were issued for these complaints; five were resolved; two were discontinued; and one was not substantiated.  The remaining complaints are still under investigation.

In addition, 54 findings were made in relation to complaints carried forward since fiscal year 2003. Twenty-three of these were resolved; seventeen were discontinued; 3 were not well founded; 11 were not-substantiated.

Resources

A total of $752,353 was spent in salary budget and $153,867 in operational spending.

The Minister of Public Safety, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister as the head of a government institution, that is, the Correctional Service of Canada, under the sections of the Act set out in the schedule opposite each position.

APPENDIX I – Access to Information Act delegation

The Minister of Public Safety, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister as the head of a government institution, that is, the Correctional Service of Canada, under the sections of the Act set out in the schedule opposite each position.

The dots (•) represent the person(s) designated to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the section(s) of the Act.

Schedule
Section Action Commissioner Senior Deputy Commi-ssioner Assistant Commi-ssioner Policy Director ATIP Deputy Director, ATIP Team Leaders, ATIP Regional Deputy Commissioners Wardens & District Directors
7(a) Notice where access requested          
8(1) Transfer to – transfer from institution            
9 Extension of time limits          
11(2)(3)(4)            
11(5)(6) Additional Fees          
12(2) Language of access          
12(3) Access in Alternative format          
13 Information obtained in Confidence      
14 Federal-Provincial Affairs      
15 International affairs and defence      
16 Law enforcement and investigation      
17 Safety of individuals      
18 Economic Interests of Canada      
19 Personal Information      
20 Third party information      
21 Advice      
22 Testing procedures      
23 Solicitor/Client Privilege      
24 Statutory prohibitions      
25 Severance      
26 Information to be published      
27(1)(4) Third party notification      
28(1)(2)(4)      
29(1) Disclosure on recommendation of Information Commissioner      
33 Advise Information Commissioner of third party involvement      
35(2) Right to make representations      
37(4) Prepare annual report to Parliament            
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) et (3) Special rules for hearings      
69 Excluded information      
71(2) Exempt information severed from manuals      
77 Responsibilities conferred on the head of the institution by the regulations made under section 77 which are not included above    

Dated, at the City of Ottawa, this

____th day of ___________, 2010

 

________________________________________
The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety