Annual Report, Access to Information Act 2010-2011

CHAPTER I – Report on the Access to Information Act

INTRODUCTION

The Access to Information Act provides the Canadian public with a broad right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution. This is 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 Correctional Service Canada (CSC) fulfilled its access to information responsibilities during the reporting period covering 2010-2011.

Our reporting Head, the Minister of Public Safety, has delegated the administration of the Privacy Act, including the reporting of the Annual Report, to the Commissioner of CSC.

CSC's ORGANIZATION & MANDATE

The Correctional Service of Canada was formed in 1979 through the amalgamation of the Canadian Penitentiary Service and the Parole Board of Canada. CSC has the fundamental obligation to contribute to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, while exercising reasonable, safe, secure and humane control. It does this by operating under the rule of law, in particular the Correctional and Conditional Release Act (CCRA), which provides its legislative framework. The Commissioner of CSC has the authority, extending from the CCRA, to issue directives, procedures and guidelines to carry out the agency's operations.

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 in becoming 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 Parole Board of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and three review bodies, including the Office of the Correctional Investigator.

THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PRIVACY DIVISION

The Access to Information and Privacy Division (ATIP) 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 the Privacy Act. In addition, each sector and region and institution has an Access to Information and Privacy liaison who assists the national ATIP Division in administering its overall responsibilities.

Details

The ATIP Division is comprised of one Director, 2 Managers of Operations, 1 Manager of Policy and Training, 5 Team Leaders, as well as 9 Senior Analysts, 20 Analysts and 7 Junior Analysts as well as a support team of new employees. The Division also employs casual and term employees to aid with the workload. The Division has a total of 55 FTEs.

Pursuant to the Access to Information Act, ATIP has a responsibility to:

The public: provides guidance as to how to request information held by CSC; responds to ATIA requests; provides clarification on the types of records under CSC control; and provides explanations concerning ATIA processes and time frames. CSC also has a duty to assist individuals seeking to obtain records held by a government institution.

CSC: responds to both formal and informal requests under the ATIA; provides advice regarding the interpretation and application of the Act; develops and implements policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure the effective application of the Act; promotes awareness and understanding of the Act by providing training.

Other federal government institutions: provides recommendations and consultations concerning the possible disclosure of CSC records which are the subject of requests.

Offices of the Information Commissioner and the Privacy Commissioner: cooperates with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) to resolve complaints made by requesters.

ATIP is also responsible for:

Training and information sessions: delivers training sessions intended to familiarize CSC employees with the requirements of the ATIA, including specific training on exemptions and exclusions, information management, Federal-Provincial affairs, etc.

Annual Report to Parliament: ATIP prepares and submits separate ATIA and PA reports to the Minister for subsequent presentation to Parliament.

Info Source: ATIP must provide the TBS with up-to-date information about CSC's organizational structure and information holdings for publication in Info Source.

DELEGATION of AUTHORITY

The responsibilities associated with the administration of the Access to Information Act, such as notifying applicants of extensions and transferring requests to other institutions, are delegated to the departmental ATIP Coordinator through a delegation instrument signed by the Minister of Public Safety. The approval of all exemptions remains with the Director and the Managers. Delegation for public interest releases as well as research and statistics rests with the Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner, Policy.

A detailed delegation instrument can be viewed in Appendix A.

HIGHLIGHTS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS 2010-2011:

Training & Awareness

The Policy and Training Unit (PTU) was created in 2008 with the aim of developing a comprehensive learning and training plan for ATIP related matters, including processing requests under the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act. The PTU also helps develop policies and procedures for the ATIP Division, and ensures that there is a systematic means by which to provide advice and assistance to OPIs.

The Policy and Training Unit plays a fundamental role in developing and delivering training to National Headquarters, Regional Headquarters and Institutions across Canada on Access to Information related matters. This reporting year, the PTU provided several training sessions to its ATIP staff on specific sections of the Access to Information Act. Thesesections include: s. 13(1) - Information Obtained in Confidence; s. 14 - Federal-Provincial Affairs; s. 17 - Safety of Individuals; s. 18 - Economic Interests of Canada; s. 20 - Third Party Information; and s. 23 - Solicitor-client privilege. In view of the complex nature of these sections, the PTU's aim was to clarify their nuances and create a culture of awareness regarding specific sections of the Act and ensure consistency in their application. Though this unit only consists of 4 permanent FTEs as of the end of the 2010-2011 reporting period, the Unit hopes to continue expanding in the coming years.

During the current fiscal year, the ATIP Policy and Training Unit has delivered a total of 15 training sessions with 300 persons attending. Examples of training which reflect these numbers include:

  1. ATIP Lunch and Learns: In December 2010 a need was recognized to deliver training sessions for ATIP staff to ensure consistency in applying the Act and to promote a culture of continuous learning. To date, there have been 8 sessions delivered to ATIP staff on different exemptions, 4 in French and 4 in English. In total, 35 staff members participated in these sessions. Due to the success of these sessions, the ATIP Policy and Training Unit will continue to provide internal training sessions to its staff.
  2. Training sessions to CSC staff, including training of Institutional staff in the Prairie Regions (a total of 210 employees). Staff included Correctional Officers, Administrative staff, Parole Officers and other individuals working with offenders.
  3. Training ATIP liaisons (15 employees). Currently there are 5 ATIP liaisons in the Region who are relatively new and in need of specialized training. The Policy and Training Unit met one-on-one with 3 liaisons and followed up with a 3 day, on-site training session (with 13 attendees), which included NHQ and Regional liaisons.
  4. The ATIP division also provided awareness sessions to Security Intelligence Officers on ATIP (16 new officers, 8 instructors).
  5. ATIP provided an orientation session to new Wardens and Deputy Wardens (15). The ATIP Division officials also liaised with NHQ Information Management (IM) and Security staff to ensure that ATIP is part of CSC's New Employee Orientation Program.
  6. CSC organizes visits to institutions on a yearly basis in order to foster education regarding the challenges of working in an institutional environment.

The Policy and Training Unit created a dedicated GEN-NHQ Policy and Training email account where all areas of CSC, including the regions, can direct their questions and concerns regarding training, policy and guideline advice, interpretations of the Act, etc. The Policy and Training Unit also offers a series of tailored training decks for staff and trainees to refer to.

The PTU e-mail address is available on our InfoNet – Appendix B

We have received positive comments regarding our Infonet site and training sessions and hope to expand and develop these sessions in the future.

Policies, Guidelines, and Procedures

The ATIP Policy and Training Unit has created a variety of reference tools in order to aid in educating the ATIP Division and employees of CSC on its roles and responsibilities. CSC also drafted bulletins regarding new Directives, specifically on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, as well as several training decks focusing on specific exemptions and exclusions.  Further, the Assistant Commissioner, Policy drafted Guidelines Regarding Transitory Documents in order to aid the ATIP community in complying with directives on the disposal and retention of documents, in accordance with Library and Archives Canada regulations. 

Other Policy developments include:

  • A Compliance Manual, created as an authoritative guide for all ATIP staff. It details the steps involved in processing Access to Information requests, explores specific exemptions and exclusions, discusses the Division's responsibilities regarding consultations, etc. It is anticipated that the Manual will provide staff with the resources and information to address many of their Access to Information questions.
  • CSC has endeavored to put into practice consistent standards for the reception and treatment of all ATI requests. An internal policy which regulates the processing of formal requests was created and distributed within the department to ensure that requestors are afforded a standardized and efficient response to their request, in accordance with the Access to Information Act and the Federal Accountability Act. The Office of the Information Commissioner has expressed its support of this policy during its investigations.

InfoNet & Internet Updates and Maintenance

With the aim of bringing greater awareness to the policies and guidelines of the Access to information Act, CSC's ATIP Division has updated its internal ATIP website as well as the public ATIP website.

In order to aid in educating the wider CSC community on ATIP related issues, the InfoNet site includes information regarding policies and procedures, directives, privacy breach prevention and reporting, PIA procedures, and a list of ATIP Tips and Bulletins. It also provides a training mechanism where requests for training can be made directly to the Policy and Training Unit by individuals or groups. Further, as mentioned above, the Policy and Training Unit now has its own email account where questions can be directed regarding the Access to Information Act.

ATIP Division's InfoNet – Appendix B

To view the changes to the ATIP Division's Internet site, please visit: http://cscweb.csc-dev-scc/atip/index-eng.shtml

CSC is looking to make available a non-exhaustive list of Access to Information request summaries on its public ATIP site in order to offer requesters the ease of informal access to requests. This project poses significant challenges for the ATIP Division due to the fact that even the ATI requests deal mostly with personal information regarding CSC's clientele.

Compliance Numbers

CSC's ATIP Division has worked hard to improve its compliance rate over the past several years. Since the 2008-2009 reporting year, the ATIP Division's compliance rate has improved significantly. The progress in CSC's compliance rate is in part due to the hiring, training and retention of senior analysts as well as the Division's commitment to improving its compliance overall. CSC is committed to improving its compliance rates.

The following chart shows CSC ATIP Division's improvement in compliance rates over the past number of years:

Compliance Rates
2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011
Compliance Rates 54% 80% 84%

OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES:

Workload

Over the last several years, the ATIP Division has experienced a significant increase in the size and complexity of its workload.  As CSC implements more programs and priorities, the public will submit more requests. CSC's Infrastructure Renewal meant that requesters sought specific details on this project, including seeking information about government contracts, future and long-term accommodations for an increasing population and Cabinet Decisions whereby consultations with other departments are required.

Workload Trends

Currently, ATIP processes over 600 formal Access to Information requests and 35-40 informal requests and it is likely that ATIP will see an additional 150 to 200 formal access requests and 50 to 60 informal access requests over the next few years. In total, Access to Information requests have increased by 40% since the 2000/01 reporting year.

The following chart shows the steady increase in Access to Information requests over the past number of years:

Workload (including carry overs)
2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011
Workload (including carry overs) 533 556 688

THE ROAD AHEAD

CSC's ATIP Division is one of the few ATIP shops that currently redacts information manually. The Division is in the process of implementing a new case management and electronic vetting system, known as Access Pro. The implementation date is scheduled for mid-May 2011 and will result in the automation of several thousands of pages.

CHAPTER II – ACCESS to INFORMATION ACT STATISTICAL REPORT

Statistical Report for the 2010-2011 Reporting Year

In 2010-2011, CSC received 604 Access to Information Act requests, which marks a significant increase from fiscal year 2009-2010. However, 84 requests were carried over from the previous reporting period for an increased total of 688 requests. A total of 55,663 pages were processed.  A total of 141 requests were carried forward into 2011-2012. Please refer to Appendix B for the statistical report.

Formal Requests received (including carry-over)
2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011
Formal requests received 511 533 556 688

In addition to formal Access to Information Act requests, the Division processed 92 consultation requests from other government institutions, as well as 35 informal requests which primarily consisted of audit and evaluation reports internal to CSC, as well as research papers.

Source of Requests:

Of the 604 received, the majority of CSC's requests originate from the public, with a number totaling 368. Media accounted for 136 requests received; 44 requests were received from Business; 26 requests were received from Academia; 19 requests were received from organizations and 11 were received from political parties.

The following graph details the breakdown of requests received by each group:

Breakdown of requests received
Public Media Business Academia Org. Political
Party
Number 368 136 44 26 19 11

Disposition of Requests:

Of the 547 requests completed during this reporting period, full disclosure was provided in response to 121 requests and partial disclosure was provided in 183 cases. Information was withheld in its entirety pursuant to exemptions in 36 cases and in 16 cases the information was excluded. CSC was unable to process 92 requests; one (1) was treated informally; 96 were abandoned; and two (2) were transferred to other federal government institutions.

Disposition of Requests
Full Disclosure Partial Disclosure Withheld Entirely Excluded Unable to process Abondonned Transferred Treated Informally
Requests 121 183 36 16 92 96 2 1

Exemptions

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 16
Federal Provincial Affairs 11
International Affairs and Defence 15
Law Enforcement and Investigation 182
Safety of individuals 4
Economic Interests 22
Personal Information 175
Third Party Information 25
Operations of Government (Advice) 173
Testing Procedures 8
Solicitor-Client Privilege 27
Statutory prohibitions 6
Information to be published 23
Library/Museum Material 6
Cabinet Confidences 11

Extensions

A total of 183 extensions were required during this reporting period. As requests get more voluminous, complex and require an increased amount of programming time when asking for statistics, the need for dedicated search time is subsequently increased.

Completion Time

During the reporting period, CSC completed 307 requests in less than 30 days; 107 between 31 and 60 days; 88 requests between 61 to 120 days; and 45 were closed over 121 days. The majority of the requests which required extensive processing time resulted from mandatory consultations with other federal government departments.

Method of Access

Where information was available for release, copies were provided in 294 cases, examination in ­­two (2) of the cases and in eight (8) cases, examination was requested and copies were subsequently made.

Consultations from Other Institutions

A significant amount of the ATIP Division's workload involves responding to consultations in response to formal requests received by other institutions.  CSC works closely with its partners under the Public Safety portfolio such as CBSA, RCMP, CSIS as well as CIC, OCI and Parole Board Canada in order to respond to consultations in a timely fashion.

During the 2010-2011 reporting period, the ATIP Division received a total of 92 consultations from other institutions processing requests under the Access to Information Act.

COMPLAINTS & INVESTIGATIONS

The OIC notified CSC of 76 complaints with regard to responses to Access to Information Act requests processed by CSC. At the end of the reporting period, 44 findings were issued for these complaints.

The following chart provides a breakdown of the type of complaint made to the OIC:

Reason for Complaint #
Delay 13
Extension 4
Refusal - Exemptions 22
Exclusion 1
Fees 12
Incomplete Response 4
No Records 11
Miscellaneous 9

Of these findings, ten (10) were deemed well-founded, the vast majority of these being time limit complaints; 14 complaints were discontinued; 14 were deemed not well-founded; and six (6) were resolved during the course of the investigation. The remaining 32 complaints are still under investigation.

Finding #
Discontinued 14
Not Well-Founded 14
Well Founded 10
Resolved – Recommendation Made 6
Resolved No Recommendation 0
Not Resolved 0
Settled 0
Not Substantiated 0

CSC works diligently to bring awareness to the broader community regarding CSC's unique environment and clientele. With this aim, the ATIP Division offered two Preventive Security training sessions to 40 investigators, as well as providing training to its stakeholders, in an attempt to bridge a better understanding of the Department. Because the training has been so well received by the OPC, CSC extended the sessions to the OIC. CSC hopes to continue with these sessions.

FEES

A total of $6,507.85 was collected as per Access to Information Act regulations. Application fees totaling $2,515.00 were collected and the initial $5.00 application fee for requestors requesting Boards of Investigation reports concerning a member of the family was waived in light of the duty to assist.

FEDERAL COURT

One (1) federal court case was filed against CSC pertaining to the response to an ATI request. However the individual filed a Notification of Discontinuation prior to the date of the hearing.

RESOURCES

A total of $1,212,634.00 was spent in salary budget and $20,147 in operational spending.

APPENDIX A – DELEGATION of AUTHORITY

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 here 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 Commissi-oner Assistant Commissioner Policy Director ATIP Deputy Director, ATIP Team Leaders, ATIP Regional Deputy Commissi-oners 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
3rd day of September, 2010
Original signed by The Honourable Vic Toews, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety

APPENDIX B: Infonet & Internet Screenshots

Policy & Training Unit Contact Information:

Details

This is a snapshot of the Access to Information and Privacy Division's (ATIP) internal website entitled Contact Us. It contains the address, phone number and email address for the ATIP office as well as the names, positions and email links for ATIP Management and the Policy and Training Unit. It also provides a link to ATIP's employee directory and a link to Treasury Board Secretariat's website where the contact information of other ATIP Coordinators and other federal institutions can be found.

ATIP TIPS Available on CSC's ATIP Infonet site:

Details

This is a snapshot of the Access to Information and Privacy Division's (ATIP) internal website entitled ATIP Tips. It contains policy documents for the internal use of CSC employees. They include:

  • ATIP Reviews of Boards of Investigation Reports.
  • ATIP Review of Records Containing Advice and Recommendations.
  • Best Practices: Processing requests pursuant to the Access to Information Act and Privacy Act.
  • Duty to Assist.
  • Guidelines for the Handling of Draft Documents.
  • New Directives from Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Permissible Disclosure of personal information pursuant to 8(2)(e) of the Privacy Act.
  • Permissible Disclosure of personal information to provinces and municipalities pursuant to 8(2)(f) of the Privacy Act.
  • Personal Information - It's Everybody's Business.
  • Personal and Public Information of CSC Employees Privacy.
  • Impact Assessments.
  • Request for Correction.

CSC's ATIP Infonet Landing Page:

Details

This is a snapshot of the home page of the Access to Information and Privacy Division's (ATIP) internal website entitled Welcome to the ATIP Division. It contains information about the Access to Information Division, information about the Privacy and Access to Information Acts and the Duty to Assist, as well as Helpful Links.