ARCHIVED - 2009-10 Annual Report on the Access to Information Act

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Table of Contents

Introduction

The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens as well as people and corporations present in Canada the right to access records under the control of federal government institutions subject to limited and specific exceptions. The Act is intended to complement existing procedures for access to government information and not to limit in any way, information that is normally available to the public.

Section 72 of the Act requires the head of every federal government institution to submit a report to Parliament on the administration of the Act for their institution each fiscal year. This report describes how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency administered the Access to Information Act for the fiscal year 2009–10, and it was prepared in accordance with the reporting requirements outlined by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

Overview of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the largest science-based regulatory agency in Canada. It has close to 7,200 professionals working across Canada, in the National Capital Region and in the four operational Areas (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and the West). The CFIA is dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which contributes to a safe and accessible food supply and plant and animal resource base, thereby enhancing the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.

The CFIA's activities help protect Canadian and international food consumers, Canadian agricultural production (including forestry), and our environment. This benefits all people in the agriculture-food continuum, such as farmers, fishers, foresters, processors and distributors (including importers and exporters), as well as consumers.

The CFIA is responsible for administering and enforcing 13 federal statutes and 38 regulations that govern the safety and labelling of food sold in Canada and that support a sustainable plant and animal resource base. The CFIA shares many areas of responsibility with other federal departments and agencies; provincial, territorial and municipal authorities; and other stakeholders.

Within a complex operating environment, the Agency works with its partners to implement food safety measures; manage food, animal and plant risks and emergencies; and promote the development of food safety and disease control systems to maintain the safety of Canada's high-quality agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, and agri-food products. The Agency's activities include verifying domestic and foreign industry compliance; registering and inspecting establishments; testing food, animals, plants and their related products; and approving the use of many agricultural inputs.

The CFIA is led by its President, who reports to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. The Agency is structured so that all branch heads have specific accountabilities that contribute to achieving each of the CFIA's strategic objectives.

With its headquarters in the National Capital Region, the CFIA is organized into four operational Areas (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and the West) that are subdivided into 18 regional offices, 185 field offices (including border points of entry) and 408 offices in non-government establishments (such as processing facilities). The Agency also works in 14 laboratories that provide scientific advice, develop new technologies, provide testing services and conduct research.

Administration of the Act

The administration of the Access to Information Act is the primary responsibility of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office of Corporate Secretariat Branch. The ATIP Office processes all requests for information and coordinates all activities related to the Act, associated regulations, directives and guidelines. The ATIP Office is headed by a Manager who reports to the Director of Executive Support and Coordination Directorate. There were 8 full-time employees and 7 consultants working in the ATIP Office during the reporting period.

Resources

An estimated $547,326.00 in salary costs and $433,397.00 in administrative costs were incurred by the ATIP Office to administer the Access to Information Act for the reporting period. These costs do not include resources expended by the program areas of the Agency to meet the requirements of the Act.

Staff Training and Awareness

The ATIP Office provided 2 training sessions to 35 employees in the National Capital Region during the 2009–10 fiscal year. ATIP Officials also participated in 3 CFIA orientation sessions targeted at new employees. Approximately 99 employees received ATIP training during these sessions. Overall, 134 employees received ATIP training during 2009-10.

Policies, Guidelines and Procedures

The Agency is continuing to implement a new set of procedures for processing ATIP requests, in order to provide greater oversight and accountability. The new procedures provide a more focused approach to the tasking of ATIP requests and help address the Information Commissioner's recommendation from her April 2010 Special Report to Parliament on Report Cards to improve the delivery of access to information services at the Agency. Approval procedures were also streamlined and the delegation order updated to give the ATIP Manager and Team Leaders full authority to release records under the Act.

Statistical Report

A copy of the Statistical Report can be found in Appendix A.

Delegation Order

A copy of the approved CFIA Delegation Order can be found in Appendix B.

Requests under the Act

The CFIA received 347 new requests under the Access to Information Act between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010. There were 201 outstanding requests from the previous year, bringing the total to 548 requests that required processing. Of this total, 340 were completed during the reporting period and 208 were carried forward to 2010–11. This represents an increase of 13 requests (4%) processed over last year in which 327 requests were completed.

The following represents a breakdown of the sources of requests received during the fiscal year:

  • 128 requests from Business (37%);
  • 100 requests from Media (29%);
  • 7 requests from Organizations (2%);
  • 111 requests from the Public (32%); and
  • 1 request from Academia (0%).

Access Requests by Source 2009-10

Pie chart - values described above

The ATIP Office reviewed a total of 64,832 pages during the fiscal year for requests received pursuant to the Act of which 36,638 were released. This is an increase of 19,188 pages (42%) over last year in which 45,644 pages were reviewed. Of the 340 requests completed, 12 requests exceeded 1,000 pages.

The following chart depicts the cycle of access to information requests at the Agency for the past 5 reporting periods:

Access Requests 2005-06 to 2009-10

bar graph - Access Requests 2005-06 to 2009-10
Description for bar graph - Access Requests 2005-06 to 2009-10

The following chart depicts the cycle of access to information requests at the CFIA for the last 5 years.

2005-2006 the number of access requests were as follows:

Received: 287
Completed: 288
Outstanding from previous period: 50
Carried forward: 49

2006-2007 the number of access requests were as follows:

Received: 271
Completed: 280
Outstanding from previous period: 49
Carried forward: 40

2007-2008 the number of access requests were as follows:

Received: 433
Completed: 416
Outstanding from previous period: 39
Carried forward: 56

2008-2009 the number of access requests were as follows:

Received: 472
Completed: 327
Outstanding from previous period: 56
Carried forward: 201

2009-2010 the number of access requests were as follows:

Received: 347
Completed: 340
Outstanding from previous period: 201
Carried forward: 208

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the CFIA's information holdings resulting in a significant increase in the volume, size and complexity of ATIP requests. This growth, accelerated by certain high profile incidens, led to delays in the release of requested information. Processing of requests is also contingent on external factors, such as required consultations with other parties and the volume of records. These factors frequently lead to an extension of the deadlines for completing the processing of the requests. Given this operating environment, the CFIA embarked upon a series of initiatives in 2009-2010 including the completion of an internal study as well as an external expert review. Among the ongoing initiatives that the CFIA is pursuing is the hiring of additional resources, both on a permanent and contract basis, in order to reduce the backlog and improve overall Agency performance.

Consultations

During the reporting period, the CFIA received 64 consultations from other government institutions concerning the release of Agency records. This represents a decrease of 10 consultation requests (13.5%) over last year in which 74 consultations were received. These consultations resulted in the review of 3,030 pages.

Completion Times and Extensions

The 340 requests in 2009–10 were completed in the following time frames:

  • 118 within 30 days or less (35%);
  • 39 within 31 to 60 days (11%);
  • 57 within 61 to 120 days (17%); and
  • 126 within 121 days or over (37%).

Completion Times 2009-10

Pie chart - Completion Times 2009-10 described above

In 154 instances, the CFIA found it necessary to extend the original time limit of 30 calendar days as prescribed in the Act. Of these extensions, 101 were for third party notifications pursuant to section 27 of the Act.

Disposition of Completed Requests

There were 340 requests completed in 2009–10. The disposition of the completed requests is as follows:

  • 55 were fully disclosed (16%);
  • 176 were partially disclosed (52%);
  • 1 was excluded in its entirety (0%);
  • 4 were exempted in their entirety (1%);
  • 35 could not be processed (10%);
  • 67 were abandoned by the applicants (20%); and
  • 2 were transferred to other federal government institutions (1%).

Exemptions and Exclusions

The CFIA invoked exemptions pursuant to the Act 372 times. The exemptions were invoked as follows:

  • 7 instances for records dealing with information obtained in confidence (s. 13);
  • 2 for records concerning federal-provincial affairs (s. 14);
  • 9 for records deemed injurious to the conduct of international affairs and defence (s. 15);
  • 13 for records concerning law enforcement and investigations (s. 16);
  • 3 for records concerning economics interests (s. 18);
  • 163 for records containing personal information (s. 19);
  • 127 for records containing third party business information (s. 20);
  • 37 for records relating to the internal decision-making processes of government (s. 21);
  • 4 for records relating to internal audits and test procedures (s. 22); and
  • 7 for records containing solicitor-client privilege (s. 23).

Exclusions were invoked 6 times during the reporting period for Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.

Fees

During the reporting period, the Agency collected a total of $5,254.50 in fees under the Act of which $1,690.00 was collected in application fees and $3,564.50 in reproduction and searching costs. The Agency waived fees in the amount of $33,396.80 in 2009–10 when legislated time frames were not met as is the common practice in many institutions.

Complaints and Investigations

The Agency received 21 complaints from the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada in 2009–10. This represents an increase of 7 complaints (35%) over the previous reporting period in which 13 complaints were received. The reasons cited for the new complaints are as follows:

  • 4 concerned the exemption / exclusion of information;
  • 3 concerned delays in the release of information;
  • 4 concerned fees;
  • 1 concerned improper disclosure;
  • 3 concerned the general refusal of information; and
  • 6 concerned the extension of time frames.

During the 2009–10 fiscal year, 12 complaints were completed and the conclusions were as follows:

  • 2 complaints were discontinued;
  • 5 complaints were not substantiated; and
  • 5 complaints were resolved.

Court Cases

Three new applications were filed with the Federal Court of Canada during the reporting period. These applications were filed pursuant to section 44 of the Act.

Appendix A: Statistical Report

Additional Reporting Requirements

Click on image for larger view
picture - Additional Reporting Requirements described below
Statistical Report

Access to Information Act

Part III – Exemptions invoked

Section 13
Subsection 13(e): 0

Section 14
Subsections 14(a): 2
14(b): 0

Part IV – Exclusions cited

Subsection 69.1 (1): 0

Appendix B: Delegation Order

Access to Information Act Delegation Order

The President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act (Act), hereby delegates the persons holding the positions set out in the Schedule annexed hereto to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the President as the head of the government institution under the sections of the Act as set out in the Schedule.

picture - Appendix B: Delegation Order

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Delegation Schedule

Delegation of powers, duties and functions pursuant to section 73 of Access to Information Act
Sections Powers, Duties and Functions Positions/Titles
Manager ATIP
Positions/Titles
Team Leader ATIP
Positions/Titles
Analyst ATIP
4(2.1) To assist the applicant, respond to his/her request and provide access to the record X X X
7 To notify the applicant and to give access to the record X X -
8(1) To transfer the request of a record to another government institution and give a notice of the transfer to the applicant X X -
9(1) To extend the time limits and to issue notice to applicant X X X
9(2) To notify the Information Commissioner of an extension exceeding 30 days X X X
11(2) To require additional payment before access is given X X X
11(3) To require payment when a record is produced as a result of the request from a machine readable record X X X
11(4) To require a deposit before search or production of a record X X X
11(5) To notify the applicant of required payment X X X
11(6) To waive requirement to pay a fee or other amount for the record or may refund the fee or other amount paid. X X -
12(2)(b) To have the record translated if it is in the public interest. X - -
12(3) To have a record made accessible in alternative format X X -
13(1) To refuse disclosure of information obtained in confidence from another government, an organization or an institution X X -
13(2) To disclose information if the government, organization or institution from which the information was obtained either consent to its disclosure or makes it public X X -
14 To refuse disclosure of information the disclosure re: federal provincial affairs X X -
15 To refuse disclosure of information re: international affairs and defence X X -
16 To refuse disclosure of information re: law enforcement, investigations, security and policing services X X -
16.5 To refuse disclosure of information re: Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act X X -
17 To refuse disclosure of information re: safety of individuals X X -
18 To refuse disclosure of information re: economic interests of Canada X X -
18.1(1) To refuse disclosure of information re: economic interests of certain government institutions X X -
18.1(2) To disclose under subsection 18(1) if information relates to the general administration of an institution referred to in any of paragraphs 18(1)(a) to 18(1)(d) or any activity of the Canada Post Corporation that is fully funded out of moneys appropriated by Parliament X X -
19(1) To refuse disclosure of records containing personal information as defined in s.3 of the Privacy Act. X X -
19(2) To disclose records containing personal information pursuant to paragraphs 19(2)(a) to 19(2)(c) of the Act X X -
20(1) To refuse disclosure of a record that contains third party information X X -
20(2) To disclose a record containing the results of product or environmental testing X X -
20(3) To provide written explanation of the methods used in testing X X -
20(5) To disclose with the consent of the third party to whom the information relates X X -
20(6) To disclose in the public interest X - -
21(1) To refuse disclosure of information re: advice, recommendations, etc. X X -
22 To refuse disclosure of information re: testing or auditing procedures or techniques, tests or audits X X -
22.1(1) To refuse disclosure of a record that contains a draft report of an internal audit of a government institution or any related audit working paper X X -
23 To refuse disclosure of a record that contains information subject to solicitor-client privilege. X X -
24(1) To refuse disclosure of a record that is restricted by statutory prohibitions. X X -
25 To sever exempt information from records and to disclose remaining information X X -
26 To refuse disclosure of a record when the information will be published X X -
27(1) To notify a third party of a request and the intention of disclosing the information X X X
27(4) To extend time limit for third party notification process X X X
28(1) To give to a third party with an opportunity to make representations and to make a decision X X X
28(2) To waive the requirement of third parties providing representations in writing X X -
28(4) To allow disclosure of the record to the applicant X X -
29(1) To notify the applicant and a third party of the disclosure of a record X X -
33 To advise the information Commissioner of a third party involvement X X X
35(2) To have the right to make representations to the Information Commissioner X X X
37(4) To give the complainant access to the record X X -
43(1) To give notice of the application to third parties X X -
44(2) To give notice to the person of the application who requested access to the record X X -
71(1) To provide facilities where the public may inspect manuals X X -
71(2) To refuse to disclose information severed from manuals X X -
72(1) To prepare an annual report for submission to Parliament X X -

Legend:

Analyst ATIP
Analyst, Access to Information and Privacy
Manager ATIP
Manager, Access to Information and Privacy
Team Leader
Team Leader, Access to Information and Privacy

X Authority has been delegated

- Authority has not been delegated

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