Publications and Reports

Annual Report - Access to Information Act

Table of contents

Access to Information Act

Annual Report
(April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014)

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, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

This report has been prepared and will be tabled in parliament in accordance with section 72 of the Access to Information Act. The information contained in this report pertains to the administration of the Access to Information Act within the Parks Canada Agency.

The Parks Canada Agency's mandate is to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage and to foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations.

The Parks Canada Agency manages programs relating to national parks, national marine conservation areas, national historic sites, historic canals, heritage railway stations, canadian heritage rivers and federal heritage buildings.

The responsibility for the administration of the Access to Information Act lies within the office of the chief executive officer. The access to information and privacy office coordinates all activities related to the legislation for the agency. It is comprised of five (5) full-time employees. Since its establishment, the access to information and privacy office continues to develop internal policies and procedures in order to meet its obligations in compliance with the access to information legislation.  A solid base of tools are now accessible to agency officials and progress has been noticeable to update and develop new internal policies and procedures.

The agency is comprised of forty-four (44) national parks, one hundred and sixty-seven (167) national historic sites and four (4) national marine conservation areas. As the agency is located across the country and often in remote areas, agency officials are challenged in processing requests in a timely fashion.

The following report represents an overview of activities carried out within the agency during the reporting period of April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

Statistical report - Access to Information Act requests

The appended report (appendix a) contains detailed statistics on the information requests processed under the Access to Information Act.

Interpretation of the Statistical Report
Access to Information Act Requests

Between April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, the agency received two-hundred and twenty (220) formal information requests under the Access to Information Act. Thirty-seven (37) requests were carried forward from the previous reporting period. Two-hundred and sixteen (216) requests were completed before the end of March. Forty-one (41) requests were carried forward to the next reporting period for the following reasons: thirty-five (35) requests required additional time to allow for consultations with third parties and six (6) requests were received at the end of the reporting period.

The following is a percentage breakdown by source of information requests received during 2013-2014:

  • 15.5% public
  • 15.5% media
  • 4.0% business
  • 63.6% academia
  • 1.4% other organizations

In most cases, the information that was exempted from disclosure from those records that were "disclosed in part" was personal information pertaining to other individuals, third party financial and/or commercial information, advice or recommendations developed by the agency or accounts of internal discussions.

The one-hundred and fourty-six (146) requests that were abandoned were received from individuals who, after being informed of the provisions of the act, either withdrew their requests or did not respond to our correspondence.

The three (3) requests included in the "no records exist" category were received from applicants who requested access to records that either did not exist or were not described clearly enough to allow for their identification.

Two (2) requests were treated informally as the information requested was in the public domain.

Fees

The agency has adopted treasury board secretariat of Canada guidelines on fees and fee waivers. Processing fees that do not exceed $25 are automatically waived. Decisions to waive or reduce processing fees that exceed $25 are made on an individual basis and are based on the public benefit which would be derived from the disclosure of the records.

No waiver is granted for the initial application fee. It is, however, reimbursed under the following conditions: when the request is for information that is available under the privacy act or when the information is available informally.

Time limitations

During fiscal year 2013-2014, 69% of completed requests were processed within the initial 30-day period. In thirteen (13) cases, the agency required a 30-day time extension in order to conduct consultations with either third parties and/or other federal government departments. In forty-three (43) cases, an extension of over 30 days was required because of the number of records requested and to enable the agency to conduct necessary consultations. In eleven (11) cases, additional time was required due to the complexity of the requests.

Costs

The costs reported in the statistical report are only those costs incurred for the processing of requests.

Formal / Informal Interface

Agency officials continue to respond to informal requests from the public. Program officers are aware of the impact of the legislation and promptly refer formal information requests to the atip secretariat. Program officers also contact the secretariat for guidance on the disclosure of information through informal processes.

Between April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, forty-eight (48) informal requests were processed under the Access to Information Act.

Complaints / Investigations

During the reporting period under review, nine (9) complaints were filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada.

Three (3) complaints concerned the delay in responding to the requests and six (6) complaints concerned the non-disclosure of information. Five (5) complaints were resolved at the end of the reporting period.

Federal Court of Canada

No appeals were filed with the Federal Court of Canada during reporting period.

Consultations Received from Other
Institutions and Organizations

Between April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, the agency received sixty-five (65) consultations under the Access to Information Act. Five (5) consultations were carried forward from the previous reporting period. Sixty-eight (68) consultations were completed before the end of March. Two (2) consultations were carried forward to the next reporting period as they were received at the end of the reporting period under review.

Administrative practices

Delegation of authority

Decision-making responsibility for the application of the various provisions of the Access to Information Act is fully delegated to the agency access to information coordinator.

Procedures

The secretariat acts as a central coordinating point for the processing of information requests received under the access to information. As such, the secretariat maintains data banks and keeps statistical records on requests processed. Requests are received by the secretariat and forwarded to the appropriate program for retrieval of the requested records. Program officials retrieve the records and prepare preliminary recommendations concerning their disclosure. These recommendations are reviewed by the secretariat. The secretariat assesses the application of the act, conducts all necessary consultations with and/or notifications of third parties, and prepares final recommendations for review by the appropriate delegated authority. When the final recommendations have been approved by the appropriate delegated authority, the secretariat prepares the records for disclosure.

The secretariat does not presently monitor the time required to process access to information requests. Additional reporting mechanisms are being planned in the next reporting period.

Briefing sessions

To ensure that all employees of the agency are aware of the legislation, awareness sessions are given periodically. These sessions provide basic information on the provisions of the Access to Information Act.

In 2013-2014, three (3) sessions were given to agency employees in the national capital region. In total, forty-five (45) employees attended these sessions.