Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) provides inspection services and regulatory oversight for food production, plant and animal health products, and delivers consumer protection programs relating to the food system in Canada. CFIA enforces Health Canada policies and standards governing the safety and nutritional quality of all food sold in Canada and verifies industry compliance with federal acts and regulations.

In 2012-13, CFIA received 405 requests, an increase of 40%Footnote 1 compared to 2011-12 (289 requests).Footnote 2 CFIA’s performance was significantly lower than the government-wide levels in 2012-13.

CFIA completed 71% of all requests in its inventory in 2012-13, a decrease compared to 2011-12 (77.6%). The average time to complete a request was 83 days.Footnote 3

Three categories of requesters made up the majority of requests received in 2012-13: the media (35.1%), members of the public (30.4%) and businesses (29.4%).

Table 1: Workload

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Number of requests received 289 405 40.14%
Number of consultations received (from other government institutions) 71 99 39.44%
Average number of pages processed per request closed 251 161 -90
% of requests for which more than 1000 pages were processed 6.35% 3.70% -2.65%
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 went down from 251 pages in 2011-12 to 161 in 2012-13. The majority of requests closed required processing 100 pages or less (81.2%). Additionally, the proportion of requests that required processing more than 1,000 pages went down from 6.4% to 3.7% in 2012-13.

CFIA noted in its annual report that it had developed a screening tool to identify routine and complex requests. According to this tool, about 46% of requests received in 2012-13 were deemed complex, compared to 30% in 2011-12. It is not clear from the annual report what elements are considered to make a determination about complexity.

Timeliness

CFIA responded to 155 requests within 30 days or less in 2012-13, which represents 43.7% of all requests completed in 2012-13. While this rate is below the government-wide percentage, it represents an improvement from the previous reporting period.

The proportion of requests closed past the statutory deadline decreased from 39.5% in 2011-12 to 27% in 2012-13. This proportion represents an “F” grade.Footnote 4 Workload was identified as the principal reason why requests were late (90% of the time).

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 206 notices of extension from CFIA, which represents a total of 301 separate extensions.

Extensions

The number of extensions increased by 14.7% in 2012-13. About 6.4% of the extensions taken in 2012-13 were for a period of 30 days or less.

Almost half (47.2%) of extensions taken in 2012-13 were for consultations under section 9(1)(c). The proportion of extensions taken under section 9(1)(a) (interference with operations) increased by 6.2% during the same period.

Disclosure

Of the 355 requests completed in 2012-13, 11% were disclosed entirely, compared to 13% in 2011-12.

31% of requests closed in 2012-13 were abandoned, which is higher than 2011-12, where only 35 or 10.6% of requests were abandoned.

Table 2: Performance

Measures Reporting Period 2011-12 Reporting Period 2012-13 Difference
Completion of Requests
Completion rate 77.59% 71.00% -6.59%
Completion Time
% of requests closed within 30 days 34.95% 43.67% 8.72%
% of requests closed past statutory deadline 39.51% 27.04% -12.47%
% of consultations from government institution closed within 30 days 97.22% 80.21% -17.01%
% of extensions of 30 days or less 9.80% 6.28% -3.52%
Level of Disclosure
% of pages processed that were disclosed 83.38% 64.76% -18.62%
% of requests closed for which the information was disclosed entirely 13.37% 10.99% -2.38%
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 against CFIA increased from 11 complaints in 2011-12 to 26 in 2012-13.

Most of the complaints received in 2012-13 were related to administrative matters (18 out of 26 complaints).

Of the complaints closed in 2012-13, 12 were well-founded, 10 were discontinued and 2 were not well-founded. In addition, one request is still pending (as of May 2014) and one was settled.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

In its annual report, CFIA noted that this growth was in part due to certain high-profile incidents.

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Footnote 2

The summaries of completed access to information requests available online showed that most frequently requested information in 2012-13 included: information on contracts awarded by CFIA, briefing notes and memos on various subject matters and reports on specific issues related to food (such as the E.coli in meat products and the level of mercury in canned tuna).

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Footnote 3

Based on response to parliamentary written question Q-485.

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Footnote 4

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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