Observations on the health of the system 2014-2015

Introduction

Disclaimer

Please note that in 2014-2015, the Treasury Board Secretariat introduced "informal requests" as a separate category in part one of the Statistical Report on the access to information. All requests previously recorded as "treated informally" are now accounted for in this section only. Depending on how the institution captured informal requests prior to 2014-2015 (whether or not they were captured in the statistical report), it may result in inconsistencies when comparing the data year-over-year.

This report analyses the statistical information related to the administration of the Access to Information Act (thereafter, the Act) in 24 federal institutions for the fiscal year 2014-2015. It includes statistical reporting from these institutions to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) (Info source Bulletin 38B) as well as the data presented by each institution in their annual report on the administration of the Act. This report also incorporates a summary of the statistical data about complaints received by the Office of Information Commissioner (OIC).

In total, the Act applies to about 250 institutionsFootnote 1 across the federal government as of September 2016. Government-wide, some institutions received a large percentage of the total requests (e.g. IRCC) and some institutions received very few requests or none at all. In total, about half of the institutions that are subject to the Act received less than 30 requests, and 91 institutions received fewer than 10 requests.

Within this report, we analyze the performance of only 24 federal institutions. These institutions represent almost 92% of all requests received across government in 2014-2015. The OIC used two ranking approaches to select these institutions. First, institutions were ranked according to the number of requests they received. The second ranking approach was based on the volume of complaints received against the institutions. Based on these two tabulations, 24 institutions that received either the highest number of requests or complaints (or both) were selected.

The performance of the following 24 institutions is analysed herein:

  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
  • Canada Post Corporation (CPC)
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
  • Correctional Service Canada (CSC)
  • Department of Finance Canada (FIN)
  • Department of Justice Canada (JUS)
  • Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)Footnote 2
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC)Footnote 3
  • Health Canada (HC)
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Footnote 4
  • Infrastructure Canada (INFC)
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)Footnote 5
  • Library and Archives of Canada (LAC)
  • National Defense (ND)
  • Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
  • Privy Council Office (PCO)
  • Public Safety Canada (PS)
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) Footnote 6
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
  • Transport Canada (TC)

A detailed analysis of the performance of each institution is available on the OIC Website.Footnote 7

This report summarizes the performance of the 24 selected institutions. In addition to the number of requests received and the number of complaints received by each, it takes into account workload indicators, such as number of consultations received from outside government institutions and the complexity of requests in inventory.

Overall Performance

In 2014-2015, 68,193 requests were received government-wide under the Act. This represents an increase of 13.5% from the previous period. At the end of the period, 67,032 requests were completed and 11,772 requests were carried over to 2015-2016. Based on the data available, it was not possible to determine how many of the requests carried forward were within statutory or extended deadlines and how many were late.

Furthermore, a total of 14,730 informal requests were received across government over the course of this reporting period. This was the first period in which “informal requests” were recorded separately from the total number of access to information requests received government-wide.

The OIC has traditionally looked at two primary indicators to assess the overall health of the access to information system: the percentage of requests completed within 30 days and the percentage of requests for which all information was disclosed. In addition to these two indicators, the OIC uses three indicators for workload, four indicators for timeliness, and two indicators for disclosure.

In 2014-2015, government-wide statistics reveal that nearly 65.1% of requests were completed within the initial statutory deadline of 30 days, and the information was fully disclosed for 27.2% of requests.Footnote 8 These rates show improvement from last year (in 2013-2014, the government-wide completion rate for 30 days was 61% while the disclosure rate was 26.8%). This year, four of the institutions reviewed outperformed these rates (CBSA, ISED, LAC and IRCC) (See Figure 1). When compared to the previous period, CBSA, LAC and IRCC again outperformed government-wide rates, while ISED showed significant improvement (in 2013-2014, ISED’s rates were below the government-wide rates).

Again this year, overall performance was influenced by that of two institutions: IRCCFootnote 9 and CBSA. The former accounted for 53.2% of the number of requests disclosed within 30 days, and 54.3% of fully disclosed requests. The latter contributed to 11.8% of the requests disclosed within 30 days, and 22.2% of fully disclosed requests.

As can be noted in Figure 1, the majority of the institutions selected for this report had results below the government-wide rates for the key performance indicators (the percentage of requests completed within 30 days and the percentage of requests for which all information was disclosed).

Figure 1: Institutional performance relative to rates across government

Figure 1: Institutional  performance relative to rates across government

Text version

Figure 1 is a scatter plot with 24 data points, each representing one of the 24 analyzed institutions in terms of a) proportion of requests completed within 30 days (y-axis), and b) proportion of completed requests fully disclosed (x-axis) (2014-2015). This plot also integrates two lines representing government-wide proportions for each indicator. Results are as follow:

Institution Proportion of completed requests where all information was disclosed Proportion of requests completed within 30 days
INFC 2% 93%
LAC 34% 77%
CBSA 60% 76%
JUS 9% 74%
CBC 13% 72%
ECCC 8% 72%
IRCC 30% 69%
ISED 40% 67%
CSIS 1% 66%
PS 11% 63%
RCMP 9% 60%
CSC 24% 59%
CPC 12% 54%
FIN 9% 53%
CRA 21% 53%
HC 11% 52%
PSPC 21% 51%
ND 18% 49%
DFO 13% 45%
NRCan 23% 44%
ESDC 27% 42%
TC 10% 41%
PCO 5% 39%
GAC 9% 34%
Across government 65.1% 27.2%
 

Workload

The OIC used four indicators to assess the institutions’ workload: a) number of access to information requests, b) number of pages processed, c) number of consultations that institutions received and d) number of informal requests.

Number of access to information requests received

In the last decade, the number of requests made under the Act has significantly increased. Figure 2 shows that the number of requests has almost tripled since 2006-2007, indicating steady growth rates. In 2014-2015, the annual growth rate of requests was 13.5% compared to 9% the previous period. The highest annual growth rate was observed in 2012-2013, when the number of requests increased by 27.7% from 2011-2012.

Despite this steady increase in requests, statistics show fluctuations in the number of complaints received by the OIC. The highest number of complaints received was in 2007-2008 (2,298 complaints). From 2011-2012 to 2013-2014, the number of complaints has continued to increase, reaching its second highest level in 2013-2014 (2,081 complaints).

Although not indicated in Figure 2, statistics for 2015-2016 indicate an increase in the number of complaints received (2,047 complaints) from 2014-2015 (1,749 complaints).

Figure 2: Access to information requests received and complaints registered across government

Figure 2: Access to information  requests received and complaints registered across government

The number of complaints includes those initiated by the Commissioner.

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting and OIC complaint statistics.

Text version

Figure 2 is a line graph displaying the number of requests received across government and the number of complaints registered by the Information Commissioner for the reporting periods 2006-2007 to 2014-2015.
Results are as follows:

Period Requests Complaints
2006-2007 29,182 1,209
2007-2008 31,487 2,298
2008-2009 34,041 2,012
2009-2010 35,154 1,689
2010-2011 41,641 1,828
2011-2012 43,194 1,465
2012-2013 55,145 1,596
2013-2014 60,105 2,081
2014-2015 68,193 1,749
 

The most common source of requests was the general public (41.1%), closely followed by the business sector (36.9%), the media (11.5%), organizations (4.8%) and academia (2.9%). A further 2.6% of requesters declined to identify themselves.Footnote 10

Figure 3 shows that the following institutions had a significant increase in their workload. This was measured by the number of requests these institutions received in 2014-2015 compared to the previous period: INFC (from 38 to 919 requests, accounting for a 2318% increase), RCMP (93.2%), CBSA (43.5%), ESDC (34%) and DFO (22.8%). The number of requests received by IRCC increased by 16.1% compared to 17.1% the previous period.

Some institutions received a significantly lower amount of requests this year: CSIS (-59.5%), PS (-33.3%) and PCO (-28.8%).

Figure 3: Number of requests received

Figure 3: Number of requests  received

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 3 is a vertical bar chart, each representing one of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis) and the number of requests they received (y-axis) for the reporting periods 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. The results are as follows:

Number of requests received
Institution 2013-2014 2014-2015
IRCC 29,281 34,066
CBSA 4,671 6,705
RCMP 1,730 3,343
CRA 2,751 3,006
ND 2,231 2,073
HC 1,563 1,569
ECCC 1,459 1,488
ESDC 861 1,160
TC 1,091 937
INFC 38 919
GAC 1,159 871
LAC 877 829
ISED 857 749
PSPC 718 691
NRCan 689 670
PCO 907 646
CSC 630 555
JUS 548 520
FIN 547 519
DFO 417 512
CSIS 903 366
PS 465 310
CBC 159 127
CPC 109 108
 

The goverment-wide completion rate was 85.1% in 2014-2015, which is an increase of 2% compared to the previous period. A high completion rate signals a small number of requests to be carried forward into the next reporting year (also known as the backlog). In the Commissioner’s experience, the creation of a large backlog can hinder institutional performance for years to come.

Although the number of requests increased by 13% in 2014-2015, institutions on average were able to absorb this increase in workload (see Figure 4). Seven institutions had completion rates above the governement-wide average of 85.1%, of which three had completion rates of 90% and above: CBC (91.9%), IRCC (90.1%) and TC (90.1%).

In contrast, seven institutions had a completion rate of less than 75%: HC (62.5%), CSC (70.2%), GAC (71.9%), DFO (72.1%), PCO (73%), CRA (74.2%) and PSPC (74.5%). These completion rates are a full 10 percentage point below the average across the government.

Figure 4: Completion rate, 24 institutions

Figure  4: Completion rate, 24 institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 4 is a vertical bar chart representing the completion rate (y-axis) for each one of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis) in 2014-2015. The completion rate is expressed as a percentage. The results are as follows:

Institution Completion Rate³
HC 62.53%
CSC 70.15%
GAC 71.88%
DFO 72.06%
PCO 73.03%
CRA 74.23%
PSPC 74.45%
CSIS 75.85%
NRCan 75.95%
ND 76.47%
CPC 76.61%
FIN 80.07%
ESDC 80.11%
ISED 83.73%
RCMP 84.58%
ECCC 84.91%
PS 85.13%
CBSA 86.22%
LAC 86.88%
JUS 87.05%
INFC 89.16%
IRCC 90.17%
TC 90.19%
CBC 91.98%

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the completion rate across the government in 2014-2015, which is 85.06%.

 

Number of pages processed (for completed requests)

Information on the number of pages processed and disclosed show one aspect of the complexity of requests. Figure 5 reveals the difference between the number of pages processed and the number of pages disclosed over the last three reporting periods. The highest number of pages that were processed was in 2013-2014, which is also the period for the lowest number of disclosed pages, indicating the largest gap between the numbers of processed and disclosed pages.

Figure 5: Relevant pages processed and disclosed pursuant to requests under the Act

Figure 5: Relevant pages processed and disclosed pursuant to requests under  the Act

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 5 is a bar chart with two bars for each reporting period (2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015) (x-axis). The first bar represents the number of processed pages, while the second one represents the number of disclosed pages. The results are as follows:

Year Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed
2012-2013 11,192,102 5,977,780
2013-2014 13,080,637 5,258,500
2014-2015 9,919,349 5,573,129
 

In terms of complexity of requests (volume of pages processed), the OIC usually considers a request to be large when it requires the processing of more than 1,000 pages.Footnote 11 For its part, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat considers a request to be large when it requires more than 500 pages to process.Footnote 12

Figure 6 shows that requests of more than 1,000 pages accounted for less than 3% of all those completed in 2014-2015. Almost 84% of completed requests required processing of fewer than 100 pages, which is similar to the proportion observed in 2013-2014 (82%).

Figure 6: Proportion of pages processed per completed requestsFootnote 13

Figure 6: Proportion of pages processed per completed requests

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 6 is a pie chart that gives the proportion of government-wide requests completed during the reporting period 2014-2015 by the number of pages processed. There are 5 categories: less than 100 pages, 101-500 pages, 501-1,000, 1,001-5,000 and more than 5,000. About 83.9% of the requests required the processing of 100 pages or less. The remaining proportion of requests completed is shared among the other categories as follows:

  • 101-500 pages: 11.3%
  • 501-1,000 pages:2.4%
  • 1,001-5,000 pages: 2.1%
  • More than 5,000 pages: 0.3%
 

Number of consultations received

In addition to the number of access requests received during the year, institutions may receive consultation requests from other institutions (including other federal institutions, provincial, territorial or international institutions). The number of consultations received by an institution contributes to its overall workload.

Table 1 reveals the number of consultations received by the government for the last three periods. It shows a significant decrease in the number of consultations since 2012, mostly due to changes in the administration of the Act.Footnote 14 These changes came during the Information Commissioner’s systemic investigation into delays caused by inter-institutional consultations and the time extensions associated with these.

Consultations received from non-government organizations increased substantially from 243 in 2012-2013 to 435 in 2014-2015.

These changes in the number of consultations were also reflected in the number of pages to review (based on completed consultation requests): between federal institutions the number of reviewed pages dropped by 27.8%, while there was a sharp increase of 223.6% in the number of pages for consultations received by other organizations, as compared with the two previous periods.

Table 1: Consultations requests

  2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015
Consultation requests 11,421 9,351 8,353
Pages to review 640,096 559,891 482,039

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy statistical Reporting.

Informal Requests

The total number of informal requests received in 2014-2015 by the institutions herein analyzed was 12,694. This represents 86.2% of the total informal requests received government-wide in 2014-2015 (14,730). LAC received the highest number of informal requests (6,671), representing 45.3% of the total received across government, followed by IRCC (899), GAC (744) and ESDC (612) whose inventories of informal requests represented 6.1%, 5%, and 4.1% of the total received across government, respectively.

Among the top-ranked institutions, 48.3% of all informal requests were treated in 30 days time or less. There is no statutory deadline for the completion of informal requests.

Six institutions completed the annual entire inventory of informal requests within 30 days or less: CBC (11 informal requests), CSIS (298), INFC (19), ISED (197), PS (118) and ND (153).

The separation of informal requests from the total number of requests received by government institutions under the Act is new this year. Consequently, there are no statistics from the 2013-2014 reporting period with which to compare this information.

Request completion time

Timeliness is the basis of an effective access to information system. In 2015, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed that timely access is a constituent part of the right of access.Footnote 15

The Act stipulates that a government institution must process an access request within 30 days of its receipt, except in specific cases where an extension may be requested by the institution in question, as set out in subsection 9(1) of the Act.

In our analysis of government-wide performance under the Act, the OIC used four indicators to assess the timeliness. These indicators are: a) proportion of requests completed within 30 days; b) proportion of requests completed late; c) average completion time per request; and d) the number and the length of extensions.

Proportion of requests completed within 30 days

The proportion of requests institutions respond to within 30 days is an important indicator because it sheds light on the number of requests completed without the need for a time extension.

Figure 7 shows the trend of this indicator since 2002. In 2014-2015, 65.1% of requests across government were completed within 30 days. This is an improvement from the previous year.

Figure 7: Proportion of requests completed within 30 days across government

Figure 7: Proportion of requests completed within 30 days across governmen

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 7 is a line chart, which represents the proportion of requests completed within 30 days (y-axis) over the reporting periods of 2002-2003 to 2014-2015 (x-axis). The results are as follows:

Reporting period Proportion of requests completed within 30 days
2002-2003 69.0%
2003-2004 63.9%
2004-2005 61.7%
2005-2006 59.6%
2006-2007 57.8%
2007-2008 57.2%
2008-2009 57.1%
2009-2010 56.1%
2010-2011 56.9%
2011-2012 55.3%
2012-2013 64.8%
2013-2014 61.0%
2014-2015 65.1%
 

Figure 8 shows that the percentage of requests completed within 30 days varied significantly among the selected institutions. INFC achieved the best results (93.4%) among the 24 institutions reviewed, and the lowest rate is observed at GAC (33.7%).

The majority of the selected institutions showed a lower rate than the one government-wide (65.1%). Seven institutions had rates below 50%: GAC (33.7%), PCO (39.1%), TC (41.3%), ESDC (42.4%), NRCan (44.3%), DFO (44.5%) and ND (49.3%).

Figure 8: Proportion of requests completed within 30 days, 24 institutions

Figure 8: Proportion of requests completed within 30 days, 24 institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 8 is a vertical bar chart representing the proportion of requests completed within 30 days (y-axis) by each one of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis) during the reporting period 2014-2015. The results are as follows:

Institution Proportion of requests completed within 30 days
GAC 33.74%
PCO 39.14%
TC 41.30%
ESDC 42.37%
NRCan 44.29%
DFO 44.53%
ND 49.33%
PSPC 50.55%
HC 52.04%
CRA 52.81%
FIN 53.11%
CPC 53.68%
CSC 59.38%
RCMP 59.95%
PS 63.36%
CSIS 66.24%
ISED 67.38%
IRCC 69.33%
ECCC 72.11%
CBC 72.48%
JUS 74.41%
CBSA 75.86%
LAC 77.34%
INFC 93.38%

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the proportion of requests completed within 30 days or less across the government in 2014-2015, which is 65.10%.

 

Proportion of requests completed late

The proportion of requests completed past the statutory or extended timeline measures how well institutions meet the 30-day or extended deadlines for responding to requests. The goal for institutions is to have as few late requests as possible. The Commissioner recommends that institutions strive to attain a deemed refusal rate of zero—that is, that they answer all their requests on or before their due date.

A total of 8,405 requests were late in 2014-2015 (government-wide rate for deemed refusal was 12.5% of completed requests). This is an improvement of 2% compared to the previous reporting period.

In 2014-2015, sixteen institutions had a deemed refusal rate equal or below the government-wide rate, with eight institutions having a rate below 5%. CBC achieve a zero deemed refusal rate, while CSIS was a close second with 0.3%. A number of institutions had a large number of late requests, including GAC, ND and the RCMP (although it dropped its refusal rate from 65% in 2013-2014 to 28% in 2014-2015).

Figure 9: Proportion of requests completed late, 24 institutions

Figure 9: Proportion of requests completed late, 24 institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 9 is a vertical bar chart, each representing one of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis). The y-axis displays the proportion, in percentage, of requests completed past the statutory deadline during the reporting period 2014-2015. The results are as follows:

Institution Deemed refusal rate
CBC 0.00%
CSIS 0.32%
PS 1.37%
INFC 1.56%
CPC 3.16%
LAC 4.38%
PCO 4.73%
PSPC 4.84%
ISED 5.25%
CBSA 6.48%
JUS 7.62%
FIN 7.68%
NRCan 8.98%
IRCC 11.05%
ECCC 11.23%
TC 12.51%
CRA 13.04%
HC 14.58%
DFO 18.09%
CSC 22.63%
ESDC 24.27%
ND 28.14%
RCMP 28.31%
GAC 41.36%

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the proportion of requests completed past the statutory deadline across the government in 2014-2015, which is 12.54%.

 

The lateness of overdue requests is important because it often illustrates an institution’s commitment to complete requests as quickly as possible. In 2014-2015, 49.3% of overdue requests were completed within 30 days, which is an improvement compared to 45.5% in 2013-2014. However, we note an increase in the proportion of overdue requests for more than 365 days (7.7% in 2013-2014 and 10.1% in 2014-2015).

Figure 10: Lateness of overdue requests across governement

Figure 10: Lateness of overdue requests across  governement

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 10 is a pie chart representing the amount of days taken to complete requests past the statutory deadline across government during the reporting period 2014-2015. Results are presented as a percentage of all requests completed past their statutory deadline. The categories and proportions are as follows:

Number of days overdue Percentage
1 to 15 days 39.2%
16-30 days 10.1%
31 to 60 days 11.5%
61 to 120 days 11.6%
121 to 180 days 6.6%
181 to 365 days 11.0%
More than 365 days 10.1%
 

Average request completion time (Estimated)

Another indicator to assess timeliness is an institution’s average time to complete requests. This statistic is not currently available in the Info Source Bulletin as institutions are not required to provide it. Nonetheless, institutions often proactively calculate this indicator to assess their performance or use it in their annual report to Parliament. Parliamentarians have also requested this information through the written question process.

In order to get an estimate of the average completion time across the government and for institutions, we used the class distribution average method.Footnote 16

In 2014-2015, the average number of processing days taken per request was 45 days, which is an improvement from the previous period (53 days).

Figure 11 shows an average request processing time for each selected institution, where the threshold level is 30 days.

Figure 11: Average request processing time (estimated), 24 institutions

Figure 11: Average request processing time (estimated), 24 institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to information Act.

Text version

Figure 11 is a vertical bar chart representing the average number of days to complete a request (y-axis) in 2014-2015 for each of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis). The results are as follows:

Institution Average number of days to complete a request
INFC 30.0
CBC 32.3
IRCC 35.3
CBSA 35.6
LAC 43.0
ECCC 44.2
JUS 44.3
CPC 48.9
ISED 49.8
PS 50.2
CSC 54.0
CSIS 54.1
CRA 55.4
FIN 56.0
RCMP 67.6
ESDC 68.4
ND 69.0
PSPC 71.5
HC 75.9
PCO 83.1
NRCan 84.1
TC 95.8
DFO 98.3
GAC 137.4

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the 30-day deadline as prescribed in the Act.

 

Number and length of extensions

Another important indicator to assess timeliness is the number and length of extensions taken in response to requests.

Institutions have the ability to extend the 30-day time limit to respond to a request for information if: the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution.Footnote 17 An extension may also be taken to consult with other implicated parties, such as federal institutions and private third parties.Footnote 18 Statistical data on the use of extensions collected by TBS (Info Source) provides insight on how the length and number of extensions has changed across government over time.

In 2014-2015, a total of 12,671 extensions were taken government-wide to complete 67,032 requests. This represents a ratio of 0.19 extension per completed request (compared to 0.25 in 2013-2014).

The average number of extensions varied across the selected institutions (see Figure 12). Only four institutions achieved a ratio below 0.19: IRCC (0.04), INFC (0.05), CBSA (0.07) and the RCMP (0.16). DFO and TC appeared in the highest interval and showed an average of 0.73 extensions per completed request in this reporting period.

Figure 12: Ratio of extensions per completed request

Figure 12: Ratio of extensions per completed request

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 12 is a vertical bar chart representing the number of extensions per completed request (y-axis) in 2014-2015 for each of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis). The results are as follows:

Institution Ratio of extensions per request completed
IRCC 0.04
INFC 0.05
CBSA 0.07
RCMP 0.16
LAC 0.23
JUS 0.31
CPC 0.32
CSIS 0.32
CSC 0.33
ESDC 0.34
CBC 0.35
ECCC 0.37
CRA 0.41
ND 0.43
ISED 0.44
HC 0.49
PS 0.49
FIN 0.53
PSPC 0.58
NRCan 0.64
GAC 0.66
PCO 0.68
DFO 0.73
TC 0.73

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the ratio across the government in 2014-2015, which is 0.19.

 

Figure 13 shows the length of extensions from 2002-2003 to 2014-2015 across government. It reveals that from 2002-2003 onward, the proportion of extensions taken for more than 30 days increased annually until it reached its highest point of 78.2% in 2013-2014. Figure 13 also shows that from 2008-2009, this proportion decreased annually until 2012-2013 where it reached 66.2%. In 2014-2015, we observe a decrease by 7.1% compared to 2013-2014.

In this reporting period, 28.4% of the government-wide extensions were taken for 30 days or less, and consequently the large share of extensions (71.6%) exceeded 30 days.

Figure 13: Length of extensions across government

Figure 13: Length of extensions across government

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 13 is a line chart representing the proportion of extensions taken for 30 days or less and for more than 30 days, across government, for the reporting periods 2002-2003 to 2014-2015. The results are as follows:

Reporting period 30 days or less More than 30 days
2002-2003 45.5% 54.5%
2003-2004 44.9% 55.1%
2004-2005 41.1% 59.0%
2005-2006 39.6% 60.4%
2006-2007 33.8% 66.2%
2007-2008 27.4% 72.6%
2008-2009 21.8% 78.2%
2009-2010 27.4% 72.6%
2010-2011 29.3% 70.7%
2011-2012 31.4% 68.6%
2012-2013 33.8% 66.2%
2013-2014 21.2% 78.8%
2014-2015 28.4% 71.6%
 

Disclosure

The disclosure of requests is closely linked to the sensitivity of the information that the institution processes as well as the restrictions defined in the Act. The Commissioner has consistently argued that the Act has defined exemptions too broadly, which in many cases prohibits institutions from disclosing information.

To assess the disclosure of the requests, the OIC used two main indicators: a) the proportion of requests for which all information was disclosed, and b) the number of exemptions and exclusions used.

Proportion of requests for which all information was disclosed

The OIC looked at the government-wide disclosure trend over the period from 1999-2000 to 2014-2015. Figure 14 reveals that the highest disclosure rate was 40.5% in 1999-2000 and the lowest point was 15.8% in 2009-2010.

In 2014-2015, all information was disclosed for 18,253 requests, which corresponded to 27.2% of completed requests government-wide. This is a slight improvement, compared to 26.8% in 2013-2014.

Figure 14: Proportion of completed requests for which all the information was disclosed across government

Figure 14: Proportion of completed requests for which all the information  was disclosed across government

Source: Info Source Bulletins: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting.

Text version

Figure 14 is a line graph presenting the proportion of requests for which all the information was disclosed (y-axis) for the reporting periods 1999-2000 to 2014-2015 (x-axis). Results are as follows:

Reporting period Proportion of requests completed, all disclosed
1999-2000 40.5%
2000-2001 37.5%
2001-2002 32.6%
2002-2003 29.6%
2003-2004 28.2%
2004-2005 27.1%
2005-2006 28.4%
2006-2007 23.1%
2007-2008 17.8%
2008-2009 18.0%
2009-2010 15.8%
2010-2011 19.6%
2011-2012 21.2%
2012-2013 21.6%
2013-2014 26.8%
2014-2015 27.2%
 

In addition to government-wide statistics, figure 15 shows the full disclosure rate for the 24 selected institutions. Only four institutions outperformed the government-wide disclosure rate: CBSA (59.8%), ISED (39.5%), LAC (33.6%) and IRCC (29.5%). Among the selected institutions, eight institutions had a full disclosure rate of less than 20% this reporting period: CSIS (0.9%), INFC (2.41%), PCO (4.6%), ECCC (8.3%), JUS (8.7%), FIN (8.7%), RCMP (9%) and GAC (9.1%).

Figure 15: Proportion of completed requests for which all the information was disclosed, 24 institutions

Figure 15: Proportion of completed requests for which all the information  was disclosed, 24 institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 15 is a vertical bar chart representing each of the 24 analyzed institutions. The y-axis displays the proportion of completed requests (%) during the reporting period 2014-2015 for which all the information was disclosed. The results are as follows:

Institution Proportion of completed requests where all information was disclosed
CSIS 0.96%
INFC 2.41%
PCO 4.58%
ECCC 8.33%
JUS 8.71%
FIN 8.71%
RCMP 9.03%
GAC 9.15%
TC 10.45%
PS 10.62%
HC 11.34%
CPC 11.58%
CBC 12.75%
DFO 12.92%
ND 18.46%
CRA 20.80%
PSPC 20.90%
NRCan 23.29%
CSC 23.79%
ESDC 27.01%
IRCC 29.58%
LAC 33.62%
ISED 39.57%
CBSA 59.84%

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the proportion of completed requests for which all the information was disclosed across the government in 2014-2015, which is 27.23%.

 

The number of exemptions and exclusions

In 2014-2015, a total of 73,396 exemptions and 3,779 exclusions were applied across government (in 2013-2014, there were 64,803 exemptions and 3,937 exclusions). The average number of exemptions/exclusions per completed request was 1.15 this reporting period, which is lower than 1.18 in 2013-2014. The majority of the selected institutions applied more exemptions and exclusions per completed request than the government-wide ratio. FIN, GAC, and PS notably exceeded the government-wide ratio, showing more than 3 exemptions/exclusions per completed request. We note that INFC (0.31), ECCC (0.67), LAC (0.69), CBSA (0.76), CSC (0.85) and IRCC (0.9) applied fewer exemptions/exclusions per completed request in comparison to the government-wide ratio.

Figure 16: Ratio of exemptions/exclusions per completed request, 24 institutions

Figure 16: Ratio of exemptions/exclusions per completed request, 24  institutions

Source: Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 16 is a vertical bar chart representing each of the analyzed institutions. The y-axis displays the ratio of exemptions/exclusions used per request completed in 2014-2015. The results are as follows:

Institution Ratio of extensions per request completed
INFC 0.31
ECCC 0.67
LAC 0.69
CBSA 0.76
CSC 0.85
IRCC 0.90
HC 1.18
ESDC 1.20
ND 1.20
JUS 1.32
ISED 1.34
CRA 1.36
CPC 1.42
RCMP 1.50
PSPC 1.68
CBC 1.77
DFO 2.11
TC 2.14
NRCan 2.23
PCO 2.68
CSIS 2.75
PS 3.10
GAC 3.20
FIN 3.62

A horizontal line is drawn across the bar chart to show the ratio across the government in 2014-2015, which is 1.15.

 

During the last decade, the most commonly applied exemptions have remained the same: S.19 - Personal information; S.15 - International Affairs and Defence; S.21 - Operations of Government; S. 16 - Law Enforcement and Investigation, and, S. 20 - Third Party Information. This also corresponds with the most commonly used exemptions by the 24 institutions that are subject to this report.

  • Exemptions: In 2014-2015, the largest share of exemptions was accounted for Personal Information (S.19) (34%), followed by International Affairs and Defence (S.15) (16%) and Law Enforcement and Investigations (S. 16) (16%).
  • Exclusions: In this reporting period, a total of 3,779 exclusions were applied, of which 82.6% were under the Cabinet Confidence (S.69) and the rest under Section 68.

Figure 17: Proportion of exemptions used per section of the Act across government

Figure 17: Proportion of exemptions used per section of the Act across  government

* The category "other" includes S.14 (1.30%), S.17 (0.42%), S.18 (1.48%), S.22 (0.71%) and S.26 (0.26%).

Source: Info Source Bulletin: Access to Information and Privacy Statistical Reporting 2014-2015.

Text version

Figure 17 is a pie chart representing the proportion of exemptions used across the government by each section of the Act. Results are as follows:

Section of the Act Proportion
S.13 4.38%
S.15 16.20%
S.16 16.11%
S.19 34.41%
S.20 7.03%
S.21 12.10%
S.23 3.07%
S.24 2.53%
Other 4.17%
 

Complaints

The OIC looked at the number of complaints registered against each individual institution and the proportion of complaints in relation to the total number of requests the institution received during the reporting period.

Figure 18 shows the total number of complaints registered by the OIC for each reporting period from 2002-2003 to 2014-2015.

Figure 18: Complaints registered

Figure 18: Complaints registered

It includes complaints initiated by the Commissioner.

Source: the OIC’s complaints data.

Text version

Figure 18 is a vertical bar chart displaying the proportion of complaints registered per request received (y-axis) for the reporting periods 2002-2003 to 2014-2015 (x-axis). Results are as follows:

Reporting Period Proportion of complaints per request received
2002-2003 4.8%
2003-2004 5.3%
2004-2005 6.0%
2005-2006 5.1%
2006-2007 4.1%
2007-2008 7.3%
2008-2009 5.9%
2009-2010 4.8%
2010-2011 4.4%
2011-2012 3.4%
2012-2013 2.9%
2013-2014 3.5%
2014-2015 2.6%
 

Figure 19 reveals the proportion of complaints registered compared to the number of requests received by the 24 institutions analyzed. As noted earlier, IRCC receives annually the largest number of requests. However, its proportion complaint/request is the smallest across the 24 institutions (0.7%). INFC, LAC, CBSA, ISED and ECCC are among the smallest proportions. In contrast, two institutions showed a substantially higher proportion: CPC (27.8%) and CBC (29.1%).

Figure 19: Proportion of complaints registered per request received, 24 institutions

Figure 19: Proportion of complaints registered per request received, 24  institutions

Source: the OIC’s complaints data and Individual institutions’ annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act.

Text version

Figure 19 is a vertical bar chart representing the proportion of complaints registered by request received in 2014-2015 (y-axis) for each of the 24 analyzed institutions (x-axis). The results are as follows:

Institution Ratio of complaints per request
IRCC 0.7%
INFC 0.9%
LAC 1.1%
CBSA 1.2%
ISED 1.5%
ECCC 1.7%
FIN 2.3%
ESDC 2.8%
DFO 3.5%
PSPC 3.8%
HC 4.1%
NRCan 5.2%
RCMP 5.3%
ND 5.6%
CSC 5.9%
CRA 7.4%
CSIS 7.4%
PS 8.1%
PCO 8.4%
JUS 8.5%
TC 9.3%
GAC 9.5%
CPC 27.8%
CBC 29.1%
 

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Includes agencies and crown corporations.

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Footnote 2

Environment Canada was changed to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

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Footnote 3

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada was changed to Global Affairs Canada (GAC).

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Footnote 4

Citizenship and Immigration Canada was changed to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

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Footnote 5

Industry Canada was changed to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

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Footnote 6

PWGSC was changed to Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

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Footnote 7

Over the years, many institutions emphasized the specificity of their workload in terms of complexity, volume of pages and the mandatory application of certain exemptions or exclusions which limit, in their view, comparability among institutions. The analysis in this report is presented objectively without putting weights on these possible specificities.

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Footnote 8

The vast majority of statistics compiled by the Treasury Board Secretariat are solely based on requests completed during the reporting period. The statistics do not account for active requests that have been carried over to the next reporting period.

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Footnote 9

IRCC alone received about 50% of all requests government-wide.

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Footnote 10

This category is new to the statistical reporting in 2014-2015.

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Footnote 11

See advisory notice on time extensions pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(a) of the Act.

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Footnote 12

The TBS Access to Information Manual, section 7.3.1.

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Footnote 13

Completed requests include all disclosed, disclosed in part, all exempted, all excluded, and all abandoned requests (in total 50,655 requests). It excludes transferred, no record exist and informally treated requests.

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Footnote 14

The primary reason for the decrease is a change to the Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act that has limited the need for inter-institutional consultations with respect to section 15 and 16.

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Footnote 15

Canada (Office of the Information Commissioner) v. Canada (National Defence), 2015 FCA 56.

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Footnote 16

We used seven intervals: 0-15 days; 16-30 days; 31-60 days; 61-120 days, 121-180 days, 181-365 days, and more than 365 days. Since the last interval is open (more than 365 days), we use 366 days as a midpoint for that interval. This is an estimate.

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Footnote 17

Section 9(1)a) of the Act

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Footnote 18

Sections 9(1)b) and 9(1)c) of the Act

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