Environment Canada

Environment Canada (EC) is responsible for preserving and enhancing the quality of the natural environment, conserving Canada’s renewable resources, conserving and protecting Canada’s water resources, forecasting weather and environmental change, enforcing rules relating to boundary waters, and coordinating environmental policies and programs for the federal government.

EC received 1,827 requests during the reporting period, an increase of 28.9% compared to 2011-12 (1,421 requests). EC is also the sixth ranked institutions in terms of requests received under the ATIA, representing about 3.3% of all requests received in 2012-13. Despite the increase in requests received and the larger volume of pages processed this year, EC’s performance was similar to the previous reporting period, except for the number of requests completed within 30 days (which decreased significantly). EC compared favourably to government-wide levels, except in terms of disclosure.

EC closed 90.7% of all requests in its inventory, its highest completion rate over the past ten years. The average number of days to complete a request was 46 days.Footnote 1

More than half (63.3%) of the requests received came from businesses, while 22.7% originated from the media. EC also received an additional 66 informal requests in 2012-13, compared to 155 in 2011-12.

Table 1: Workload

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Number of requests received 1,421 1,827 28.57%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 203 248 22.17%
Average number of pages processed per requests closed 270 153 -117
% of requests for which more than 1000 pages were processed 3.93% 3.30% -0.63%
Note: The average number of pages processed per request closed and the percentage of requests for which more than 1,000 pages were processed are calculated from the total of requests completed for which the information was disclosed (in part or totally), exempted/excluded and for requests abandoned. It excludes requests completed for the following dispositions: no records exist, requests transferred and requests treated informally.

In 2012-13, EC processed 120,741 pages, which is a decrease compared to the last reporting period (164,777 pages). On average, 153 pages were processed per request closed, a decrease of 117 pages compared to 2011-12.Footnote 2 However, with respect to the percentage of processed pages disclosed, a larger percentage of the pages were disclosed in 2012-13 (75.1%) compared to 2011-12 (70.1%).

Timeliness

EC responded to 1,193 requests within 30 days or less, which represents 65.9% of all requests completed in 2012-13. While this proportion is similar to the government-wide proportion (64.8%), it is lower than what EC achieved during the last reporting period (a decrease of 11% compared to 2011-12). However, EC completed less requests in more than 120 days in 2012-13 (4.25%) than in 2011-12 (6.32%).

The proportion of requests past statutory deadline increased in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, from 8.8% to 11.5% of all requests completed. This proportion represents a “C” grade.Footnote 3 Workload, external consultations and internal consultations were all equally invoked as the reason why statutory deadlines were not met in 2012-13.

Each year, the OIC receives notices regarding the use of extensions for more than 30 days and compiles this information in order to generate statistics. In 2012-13, the OIC received 443 notices of extension from EC, which represented a total of 619 separate extensions.

Extensions

A total of 133 extensions were taken to close the 1,810 requests completed in 2012-13. Most of the extensions taken in 2012-13 were for between 31 to 60 days (40.5%). However, the proportion of extensions for 30 days or less was higher in 2012-13 (37.6%) than in 2011-12 (14.9%).

About half of the extensions in 2012-13 were taken under section 9(1)(a) (interference with operations). This proportion was 5% lower in 2011-12.

Disclosure

Of the 1,810 requests completed in 2012-13, 11.3% were disclosed entirely, compared to 10% in 2011-12.

The proportion of requests closed for which the information was entirely exempted/excluded was 27.2% in 2012-13. In comparison, this proportion government-wide was 1.6% for the same period.

The proportion of requests closed in 2012-13 for which no records existed was 56% compared to 11.8% government-wide. This proportion is, however, similar to previous years.

Table 2: Performance

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 89.45% 90.73% 1.28%
Completion Time
% of requests closed within 30 days 76.84% 65.91% -10.93%
% of requests closed past statutory deadline 8.77% 11.49% 2.72%
% of consultations from government institution closed within 30 days 83.25% 67.67% -15.58%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 14.91% 37.57% 22.66%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 70.08% 75.12% 5.04%
% of requests closed for which the information was disclosed entirely 9.96% 11.27% 1.31%
Note: The completion rate represents the number of requests completed divided by the total number of requests on hand, which includes the new requests received and the requests carried over from the previous reporting period.

Complaints

The number of complaints received against EC in 2012-13 increased. 17 complaints were received in 2011-12, while 26 complaints were received in 2012-13.

A similar proportion of refusal and administrative complaints were received in 2012-13 (12 and 13 complaints, respectively). However, from the last reporting period, the proportion of administrative complaint has increased by 8.8%.

The disposition of complaints received in 2012-13 (as of May 2014) are as follows: well founded (12), not well-founded (4), still pending (4), discontinued (3) and settled (2).

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Based on response to parliamentary written question Q-485.

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Footnote 2

According to EC’s annual report, this decrease in the number of pages processed in 2012-13 could be due in part to the fact that the ATIP Secretariat consulted with requesters in order to clarify and narrow the scope of their requests.

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Footnote 3

The 2007-08 OIC report card grading system was used to estimate the grade: A=0 to 5%, B=5 to 10%, C=10 to 15%, D=15 to 20%, F=more than 20%.

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