Natural Resources Canada

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)’s mandate is the sustainable development and use of natural resources: energy, minerals and metals, earth sciences and forestry. It develops policies and programs that enhance the contribution of the natural resources sector to the economy.

In 2012-13, NRCan received 769 requests, an increase of 114.8%Footnote 1 as compared to 2011-12 (358 requests). Despite the increase in requests received, NRCan generally improved its performance in 2012-13 compared to the reporting period 2011-12.

NRCan completed 78.3% of all requests in its inventory in 2012-13, which is higher than the completion rate achieved in 2011-12 (71.8%). The average number of days to complete a request in 2012-13 was 61 days.Footnote 2

The year 2012-13 was marked by a significant change in the source of requests. While the requests received in 2011-12 came from various sources, those received in 2012-13 were mostly from members of the media. About 65.8% of the requests received in 2012-13 came from this category of requestors, compared to 23.5% in 2011-12.

Table 1: Workload

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Number of requests received 358 769 114.80%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 245 269 9.80%
Average number of pages processed per request closed 374 160 -214
% of requests for which more than 1000 pages were processed 4.87% 3.90% -0.97%
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 per requests closed and the proportion of requests closed that required the processing of a large volume of pages went down in 2012-13 compared to the previous reporting period. The number of pages processed per request closed for the reporting period 2012-13 (160 pages/request) was also lower than in 2011-12 (374 pages/request).

Timeliness

NRCan responded to 414 requests within 30 days or less, which represents about 60.3% of the requests closed in 2012-13. This rate is about 4.6% higher than in 2011-12. The proportion of requests completed in more than 120 days also decreased, from 21.1% in 2011-12 to 15.1% in 2012-13.

Requests closed past the statutory deadline represented 3.5% of the requests completed in 2012-13 (24 requests late). In comparison, 8 requests were closed past the statutory deadline in 2011-12 (representing 2.9% of the requests closed). This proportion represents an “A”Footnote 3 grade.

Workload was the principal reason given for why requests were closed late in 2012-13 (15 out of the 24 requests).

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 227 notices of extension from NRCan, which represented a total of 290 separate extensions.

Extensions

NRCan took 300 extensions to close the 687 requests completed in 2012-13. In comparison, a total of 184 extensions were taken to close 280 requests in 2011-12.

About 8% of these extensions were for 30 days or less, compared to 4.3% in 2011-12. The proportion of longer extensions (121 days or more) also decreased from 38.6% in 2011-12 to 18.6% in 2012-13.

A majority of the extensions (70%) were taken for consultations under section 9(1)(b). This proportion was similar in 2011-12.

Disclosure

From the 687 requests completed in 2012-13, 26.9% of them were disclosed entirely, which represents a 9% increase compared to the reporting year 2011-12. Also, the proportion of requests for which the information was entirely exempted/excluded went down from 10% in 2011-12 to 4.5% in 2012-13.

Table 2: Performance

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 71.79% 78.34% 6.55%
Completion Time
% of requests closed within 30 days 55.71% 60.26% 4.55%
% of requests closed past statutory deadline 2.86% 3.49% 0.63%
% of consultations from government institution closed within 30 days 74.29% 63.76% -10.53%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 4.35% 8.00% 3.65%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 28.42% 52.82% 24.40%
% of requests closed for which the information was disclosed entirely 17.86% 26.93% 9.07%
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 by the OIC regarding NRCan has increased significantly in three years, from 4 complaints in 2010-11 to 21 in 2012-13.

Only one complaint received in 2012-13 was related to administrative matters. The remaining 20 were refusal complaints.

The disposition of most of the complaints received in 2012-13 is still unknown, as 14 of them were still pending as of May 2014. The remaining 7 complaints were either discontinued (4), not well-founded (2) or settled (1).

Footnotes

Footnote 1

According to the summaries of completed ATI requests available online, common subjects of requests for the reporting period 2012-13 included information about high profile subject matter such as pipeline projects, oil sands, gas, carbon, nuclear energy and electricity. The significant interest in these areas, it is suspected, explains in part the important increase in requests received by NRCan.

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Footnote 2

Based on response to parliamentary written question Q-485.

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Footnote 3

The 2007-08 OIC report card system was used to estimate a grade: A= 0 to 5%; B= 5 to 10%; C= 10 to 15%; D=15 to 20%, F= more than 20%. The Red Alert grade is reserved for high proportions of requests completed past the statutory deadline.

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