Health Canada

Health Canada (HC) helps Canadians maintain and improve their health by developing health policy, enforcing regulations, promoting disease prevention, and enhancing healthy living for all Canadians.

In 2012-13, HC received 1,765 requests, representing 3.2% of all requests received government-wide in that reporting period. The institution closed a smaller proportion of requests in 2012-13 than in 2011-12, despite receiving a similar number of requests and processing fewer pages (17% decrease) than in 2011-12. HC’s performance was in general lower in 2012-13 than in 2011-12 and was below government-wide levels.

HC completed 74.3% of all requests in its inventory in 2012-13, which is lower than 2011-12, where 78.6% of the requests in its inventory were closed. The average number of days to complete a request was 99 days.Footnote 1

Most of the 1,765 requests received by HC were from businesses (61%) seeking information related to pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and natural health products. Other common categories of requesters were members of the public (18%) and the media (11.5%). In addition, HC received another 524 “informal requests”Footnote 2 that were not captured in its annual Statistical Report. This is 459 more informal requests than were received in 2011-12.

Table 1: Workload

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Number of requests received 1,763 1,765 0.11%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 206 186 -9.71%
Average number of pages processed per requests closed 323 274 -49
% of requests for which more than 1000 pages were processed 6.93% 5.63% -1.30%
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.

The volume of pages processed by HC was proportionally lower in 2012-13 than in 2011-12. The number of pages processed per request for 2012-13 was 274 pages, which is 49 pages less per request than in 2011-12. HC also disclosed less of these pages in 2012-13 (64.4%) than in 2011-12 (76.1%).

Timeliness

HC responded to 814 requests within 30 days or less, which represents about 48% of all requests completed in 2012-13. In comparison, 55.4% of requests received in 2011-12 were completed within 30 days. The proportion of requests completed in more than 120 days in 2012-13 (20.7%) was lower than in 2011-12 (23.6%).

The proportion of requests completed past the statutory deadline increased in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, from 11.5% to 26% of all requests completed. This represents an “F” grade.Footnote 3 Workload was invoked as the principal reason for not meeting the statutory deadline (75% of the time).

In addition, an extension was taken for 59% of the requests completed past the statutory deadline.

Extensions

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 703 notices of extension from HC, which represented a total of 741 separate extensions.

In 2012-13, HC took a total of 757 extensions to close the 1,689 requests completed in 2012-13. In comparison, 979 extensions were taken to complete 1,866 requests in 2011-12.

In 2012-13, 12.5% of the extensions were for 30 days or less. This is 9.1% lower as compared to 2011-12 (21.6%). The number of extensions that were for more than 365 days was reduced by half, from 48 (or 4.9%) in 2011-12 to 24 (or 3.2%) in 2012-13.

Extensions were mostly taken under section 9(1)(b) (consultations other than section 69) in 2012-13 (38%). This represents an important increase compared to 2011-12, where only 13% of extensions were taken under this section.

Disclosure

Of the 1,689 requests completed, 13.6% were disclosed entirely, which represents a 1.4% decrease compared to 2011-12. This rate is also below the government-wide proportion of 21.6%.

Table 2: Performance

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 78.57% 74.27% -4.30%
Completion Time
% of requests closed within 30 days 55.41% 48.19% -7.22%
% of requests closed past statutory deadline 11.52% 26.05% 14.53%
% of consultations from government institution closed within 30 days 73.50% 88.51% 15.01%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 21.65% 12.55% -9.10%
Level of disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 76.09% 64.39% -11.70%
% of requests closed for which the information was disclosed entirely 14.95% 13.56% -1.39%
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 Health Canada went down from 49 complaints in 2011-12 to 37 in 2012-13.

The proportion of administrative complaints almost doubled from 34.7% in 2011-12 to 63.9% in 2012-13.

21 of the 37 complaints received in 2012-13 were considered well founded. Discontinued and still pendingFootnote 4 complaints accounted for 7 complaints each. Finally, 2 complaints were not well-founded.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Based on response to parliamentary written question Q-485.

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Footnote 2

These include requests for previously released ATI packages and requests for specific data that does not require the release of records.

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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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Footnote 4

Statistics reflects numbers retrieved as of May 2014.

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