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Questionnaires

Year


2007-2008

QUESTIONNAIRES

Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada

Report Card Questionnaire

2007-2008

Health Canada

July 8th,2008


A. ACCESS TO INFORMATION REQUESTS PROCESS

1. Profile of Requester

Source Number of requests
Media 141
Academia 10
Business 722
Organization 56
Public 218
Other 0
Total 1147

2. Request Categorization

2.1 – Are requests categorized in any manner (i.e., sensitive, routine, etc.)?

Yes X No  

If Yes, please list and define the categories and if possible indicate the number of access requests in each category.

Category Definition of Category Number of requests
2007-2008
Hi-sens Information that is likely to require communications lines. 117

2.2– If yes, who makes the determination of the category?

The Hi-Sens categorization is determined by the ATIP division in conjunction with the program area and DMO.

2.3– If yes, is there a specific process related to this categorization? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

When requests are received, the ATI Division and the program area carry out an initial assessment of the sensitivity. DMO also reviews the list and provides concurrence.

3. Client Service

3.1 – On average, how much time does it take your institution to make a final decision on an ATI request under theAct? i.e. What is the total amount of time taken between the receipt of the ATI request and the final decision on disclosure of requested information?

On average it takes Health Canada 75 days to process an ATI request, this includes extensions and consultations with third parties.

3.2 – Disclosure to Requester  
Number of requests received during the reporting period (April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008) 1147
Number of requests completed during the reporting period (April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008) 1164
Pages reviewed 336,435
Pages disclosed in total 165,331 (ATIP Software does not differentiate between “disclosed in total” and “disclosed in part”)
Pages disclosed in part 165,331 (ATIP Software does not differentiate between “disclosed in total” and “disclosed in part”)

Additional information provided to OIC onAugust 20, 2008:

Pages reviewed (2005-2006): 171,131

Pages reviewed (2006-2007): 357,913

3.3 – Disposition of Completed Requests for the Period Number of requests
All disclosed 163
Disclosed in part
1-20% 21-40% 41-60% 61-80% 81-99%
    558    
Nothing disclosed (excluded) 7
Nothing disclosed (exempt) 47
No relevant record exists 196
Transferred 26
Unable to process Included in the no relevant records
Abandoned by requester 166
Treated informally 1
Total completed 1164
Carried forward 356

3.4 – Transfers Profile  
Transferred within 15 days 26
Transferred after 15 days 0
Total transferred 26
Transfers refused 0

3.5 – Consultations    
Received:  
Number of consultations received 184
Number of pages to review 6622
(This question is to be answered by the Privy Council Office (PCO) only) Number of consultations received from other federal institutions related to Cabinet confidences (Please, consult with PCO Legislation and House Planning) (s. 69)  
(This question is to be answered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade only) Number of consultations received from other federal institutions related to International affairs, defence and national security (s. 15)  
(This question is to be answered by Canada Border Services Agency and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police only) Number of consultations received from other federal institutions related to law enforcement and penal institutions (s. 16)  
For completed requests only, average time spent to review pages received for all consultations ATIP Software does not track
Sent:  
Number of consultations sent 351
Number of pages sent for review ATIP Software does not track
Number of consultations sent to PCO Legislation and House Planning related to Cabinet confidences (s. 69) 20
Number of consultations sent to any institutions related to International affairs, defence and national security (s. 15) 22
Number of consultations sent to any institution related to law enforcement and penal institutions (s. 16) 68
For completed requests only, average time to receive responses to all consultations sent ATIP Software does not track
For completed requests only, average time to receive responses to consultations sent in relation to Cabinet confidences (s. 69) ATIP Software does not track
For completed requests only, average time to receive responses to consultations sent in relation to defence and national security (s. 15) ATIP Software does not track
For completed requests only, average time to receive responses to consultations sent in relation to law enforcement and penal institutions (s. 16) ATIP Software does not track

3.6 – Of the total number of access to information requests received during the reporting period, what percentage of these requests required your institution to consult (under paragraph 9(1)(b)) with other federal institutions)?

31.6%



3.7 – Does your institution have in place a policy, a practice or another instrument, such as a protocol (written or not, please specify), to address how consultations received from another institution or sent to another institution or to a third party, are processed?

Yes   No X

Consultations are managed in the same manner as any other request.

3.8 – Priority: Are consultations processed on a priority basis?

Yes   No X

4. Time to Process Requests

4.1 Processing Model - Stages
Days Allocated Average Actual Days
Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) intake 1 n/a
OPI search 7 15

Records review 5
Records preparation 7
Approval or otherwise – ATIP 6
Approval or otherwise – OPI 7
ATIP release 1
Report not available from the system

4.2 – Other than the stages identified in 4.1, does your institution have in place other approval or review processes for requests that are categorized in a special manner as in A.2 above? If yes, please list them.
 

Stage name Days allocated Average actual days
DMO 5 days 19 (Based on 54 files sent to DMO during the reporting period.)



4.3 – If other approval or review processes in place, for each stage, please explain in as much detail as possible the rationale for, and purpose of this additional approval or review stage.

Hi-Sens file sent to DMO and Communications 5 days prior to release for information and for the preparation of communications lines where required.

4.4 – Please indicate whether this additional approval or review stage applies (1) to a specific type or category of requests, (2) systematically to all access requests or (3) on a case-by-case basis.

These are applicable to files tagged as Hi-Sens.

4.5 – Please indicate whether the roles and responsibilities of this approval or review stage are clearly established in a decision or a policy.

The review process for Hi-Sens files is established in a document entitled “Responding to Access to Information Requests” (att: appendix A) and in the “Flow Chart for Hi-Sens Access to Information and privacy (ATIP) Requests” (att: appendix B)

4.6 – In your opinion, has this other stage resulted in any increase in the delay to release the requested information?

Always   Almost always   Sometimes X Rarely   Never  

Review times in DMO varies based on complexity of the file. For the 54 files sent to DMO during the reporting period, this stage resulted in files being late files in eleven (11) instances, therefore 99% of these files are processed on time.

5. Extensions Profile

5.1 – When an extension is taken under section 9, do you document on the file a rationale to justify the decision to invoke an extension? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

Extensions are applied in accordance with the provisions of Section 9, and in the case of complex interpretation of the legislation, rationales are located in the case notes.



5.2 – Following an extension, if it is unlikely that the extended date will be met, does the ATIP Office contact the requester to indicate:

a) The response will be late

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

b) Of an expected date for the final response

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

c) Of the right to complain to the Information Commissioner

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

5.3 – If necessary, please provide any relevant information to support the answer provided under 5.2 a), b) and c)

No further information required

5.4 – Extensions under Paragraph 9(1)(a) – Large volume of records and Interference with the operations of the federal institution

  2005-2006
Number of days
 For volume (search “for” large number of records)
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180

ATIP Software does not track
For volume (search “through” large number of records) 135 362 19 0 2 2

  2006-2007
Number of days
 For volume (search “for” large number of records)
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180

ATIP Software does not track
For volume (search “through” large number of records) 170 167 5 5 0 7



  2007-2008
Number of days
 For volume (search “for” large number of records)
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180

ATIP Software does not track
For volume (search “through” large number of records) 138 314 12 13 0 3

Additional information provided to OIC on August 7, 2008:

The extension rationale for 5 files identified in the Report Card Questionnaire as having been extended by 151-180 days ( Table 5.4,

2007-2008): at the outset, I would like note that a factor we consider when applying such extensions is the complexity of files. In general, files that require multiple consultations, or where third parties are not in Canada, are more likely to result in lengthy extensions. The attached case activity entries for all these files showing the Section claimed in each instance reads as follows: Two consecutive 60 day extensions under S. 9(1)(b) & (c) ; Further time to process consultations negotiated with the applicant. The rationale currently recorded is not exhaustive. I have therefore implemented a new internal process which requires to log a detailed rationale resulting in extensions of over 120 days. The new process also requires Team leaders and Chiefs to sign off on the lengthier extensions and the rationales. In this way we will ensure that the rationale for such extensions is more easily assessed in future.



5.5 – How do you determine the length of an extension taken under paragraph 9(1)(a) (“large number of records”)? What is the decision process used to determine the length of an extension? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

ATI analysts confer with the program area before applying 9(1)(a) and then estimate the length of the extension needed to review the volume of records based on the number of records that can be reviewed in a day and the existing workload and legislated timelines. The final decision on the length of the extension rests with the ATIP analyst.

5.6 – When extensions under paragraph 9(1)(a) (large number of records) are taken, are there any actions, practices or processes that your institution has implemented to ensure that the time limits to extension requests are met or delays are minimized? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

ATIP analysts proactively manage timelines, plan actions and enter them into a request tracking system (ATIP Flow). They then work with Bring Forward reports created by the system and take action (for example call OPIs with reminders of deadlines) at appropriate times.

5.7 – Extensions under paragraph 9(1)(b) – Consultations

  2005-2006
Number of days
  < 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
For consultation with another federal institution 60 26 0 0 0 0

For consultation with foreign government
For consultation with domestic government
For consultation with aboriginal government
For consultation with individual
For consultation for section 69
This data not tracked

  2006-2007
Number of days
  < 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
For consultation with another federal institution 87 195 0 0 0 0

For consultation with foreign government
For consultation with domestic government
For consultation with aboriginal government
For consultation with individual
For consultation for section 69
This data not tracked 



  2007-2008
Number of days
  < 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
For consultation with another federal institution 77 297 30 0 5 13

For consultation with foreign government
For consultation with domestic government
For consultation with aboriginal government
For consultation with individual
For consultation for section 69
This data not tracked

5.8 – If consultations are taken under paragraph 9(1)(b),are these sent out as soon as the need has been identified?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

5.9 – If necessary, please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

No further information required

5.10 – How do you determine the length of an extension taken under paragraph 9(1)(b) (consultations)? What is the decision process used to determine the length of an extension? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

The length of the extension taken for consultations depends on :
  • Which department is being consulted – some departments consistently require much longer times to process consultations;
  • The volume of records being consulted on;
  • The location of the third parties (when records have to be sent to international organizations);
  • The number of third parties.



5.11 – When extensions under paragraph 9(1)(b) (consultations) are taken, are there any circumstances where for certain consultations, a certain amount of time is always taken by the federal institution to which the consultation is sent? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

In the case of consultations with PCO and DFAIT we generally invoke the lengthiest possible extension. We generally issue interim releases for the records related to such request while we await consultation results. 

5.12 – When extensions under paragraph 9(1)(b) (consultations) are taken, are there any actions, practices or processes that your institution has implemented to ensure that the time limits to extension requests are met or delays are minimized? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

Analysts work with the “bring forward” system to identify upcoming deadlines and communicate them back to departments and third parties via e-mail reminders.

5.13 – Extensions under Paragraph 9(1)(c) – Notices to third parties



  2005-2006
Number of requests where third party was consulted 61
Length of extension taken
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
8 231 15 3 3 2
Average length of time to receive representations from third parties
Average length of time to make a decision after receipt of response / representations from third parties
Number of notices under section 27
Number of notices for which section 27 time frame was not met
Number of requests for which paragraph 28(1)(b) time frame was not met
Report not available from the system



  2006-2007
Number of requests where third party was consulted 292
Length of extension taken
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
12 181 26 5 1 2
Average length of time to receive representations from third parties
Average length of time to make a decision after receipt of response / representations from third parties
Number of notices under section 27
Number of notices for which section 27 time frame was not met
Number of requests for which paragraph 28(1)(b) time frame was not met
Report not available from the system

  2007-2008
Number of requests where third party consulted 201
Length of extension taken
< 30 30-90 91-120 121-150 151-180 >180
12 156 65 6 2 0
Average length of time to receive representations from third parties
Average length of time to make a decision after receipt of response / representations from third parties
Number of notices under section 27
Number of notices for which section 27 time frame was not met
Number of requests for which paragraph 28(1)(b) time frame was not met
Report not available from the system



5.14 – Are third party notices sentto third parties pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(c) and subsection 27(1) sent out before thirty days have lapsed?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

5.15 – If you have not checked “Always”, please provide any relevant information to support the answer.


5.16 –Are notices sent assoon as the need for the notice is identified?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

5.17 – If necessary, please provide any relevant information to support the answer.


5.18 – When an extension is invoked under paragraph 9(1)(c) for third party notification, how often does the institution meet the statutory timelines? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  


5.19– When extensions under paragraph 9(1)(c) (notices to third party) are taken, are there any actions, practices or processes that the federal institution has implemented to ensure that the time limits to extension requests are met or delays are minimized? Please provide any relevant information to support the answer.

ATIP analysts closely manage timelines and monitor the process, using the Bring Forward reports to ensure that actions are taken at appropriate times, allowing the most efficient processing possible.

5.20 – When extensions are taken under paragraphs 9(1)(b) and / or 9(1)(c) – consultations – does the ATIP Office provide a partial release of the requested records for portions of the request that are not involved in the consultation process?

Always X Almost always   Sometimes   Rarely   Never  

5.21 – If necessary, please provide any relevant information to support the answer.



6. Claims for discretionary exemptions

6.1 – When a discretionary exemption is claimed, is a rationale prepared to support the decision to exempt information?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information for this question.

In situations where exemptions require a rationale, a record is created based on OPIs recommendations and justification, third party representation, and to reflect discussions with OPI or third parties.

6.2 – When a discretionary exemption is claimed, is it exercised in the context of jurisprudence and practice?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information for this question.


6.3 – Is there a documented requirement to prepare a rationale when a decision is made to claim a discretionary exemption?

Yes No
  X

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.


6.4 – Is the discretionary exemption rationale prepared by the OPIs and/or the ATIP Office?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.

When a discretionary exemption is applied and a discussion has taken place on the rationale, it is documented in the OPIs recommendation sheet, and/or in the ATIP analyst’s notes. The rationale is therefore prepared in collaboration between the OPI and ATIP analysts.

6.5 – Is there a documented discretionary exemption challenge function in ATIP Office if the rationale is prepared by OPIs?

Yes No
  X

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.

There is no documented discretionary exemption challenge function in the ATIP Office if the rationale is prepared by the OPI. There is nonetheless a heavy reliance on OPIs from certain program areas. For example, scientific assessors are in a much better position than ATIP analysts to recommend S.20 exemption on product files. In other circumstances, the ATIP Division will challenge program recommendations and discussions ensue to ensure the appropriate application of the Act.

7. Claims for mandatory exemptions 

7.1 – When a mandatory exemption is claimed, is a rationale prepared to support the decision to exempt information?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information for this question.

For the most part, the rationale for applying a mandatory exemption is straight forward. Should discussion or clarification for the application of the exemption be warranted, it is documented in discussion between the OPIs and the analyst, or between the OPIs and ATI supervisors.

7.2 – When a mandatory exemption is claimed, is it exercised in the context of jurisprudence and practice?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information for this question.


7.3 – Is there a documented requirement to prepare a rationale when a decision is made to claim a mandatory exemption?

Yes No
  X

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.


7.4 – Is the mandatory exemption rationale prepared by the OPIs and / or the ATIP Office?

Yes No
X  

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.

Same as 6.4



Yes No
  X

Please provide any relevant information and documentation for this question.

 

B. DEEMED-REFUSAL REQUESTS

Part I: Requests carried over from the 2006-2007 fiscal period.
1.Number of requests carried over:373
2.Requests carried over from the previous fiscal period — in a deemed-refusal situation on the first day of the new fiscal period:397
Part II: New Requests — Exclude requests included in Part I.
3.Number of requests received during the 2007-2008 fiscal period:1147
4.AHow many were processed within the statutory 30-day time limit?386
4.BHow many were processed beyond the statutory 30-day time limitwhere no extension was claimed?33
5.How many were extended pursuant to section 9?694
5.AHow many were extended pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(a)?481
5.BHow many were extended pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(b)?422
5.CHow many were extended pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(c)?247
6.AHow many were processed within the extended time limit? (re Row 5)389
6.BHow many exceeded the extended time limit? (re Row 5)305
7.AHow many were processed within the extended time limit? (re Row 5.A)332
7.BHow many exceeded the extended time limit? (re Row 5.A)57
8.AHow many were processed within the extended time limit? (re Row 5.B)n/a
8.BHow many exceeded the extended time limit? (re Row 5.B)n/a
9.AHow many were processed within the extended time limit? (re Row 5.C)n/a
9.BHow many exceeded the extended time limit? (re Row 5.C)n/a
10As of March 31, 2008, how many requests were in a deemed-refusal situation?21


C. RESOURCE PROFILE

1. Employee Profile

Please note that the positions listed below have responsibilities associated to the operations activities relating to the administration of the Access to Information Act. The ATIP Division at Health Canada also includes a sizeable policy unit – these positions are not included in the description below.

Full-time PositionClassificationNumberYears of Experience
YesPM-0625-10
YesPM-0545-8
YesPM-0473-5
YesPM-0352-3
YesPM-0210-2
YesCR-0440-2
Consultants Hired to process ATI requestsClassification  
0.1 person yearPM-05 equivalent210+
    

2. Salary Dollar Budget for ATIP Office for ATIA activities

Fiscal YearBudget AllocatedBudget UsedFTEs AllocatedFTEs Used
2007-2008$ 1,775,341$ 1,413,809.802824 + 3 FTE*
2006-2007$ 1,775,341$ 1,189,573.902825
2005-2006$ 980,000$ 998,617.601418

* Policy officers from the Privacy unit of the ATIP Division (ES-04,05 and 06) contributed a significant amount of time to process ATI requests in order to tackle carried over files. We estimate this contribution at 3 FTE equivalent. 3. Operating Budget for ATIP Office for ATIA activities

Fiscal YearBudget AllocatedBudget Used
2007/2008$ 310,176$ 326,329.10
2006/2007$ 363,016$ 176,470.00
2005/2006$ 336,799$ 285,413.10

4. Breakdown of ATIP Office Operating Budget Used or Set Aside for ATI Training or Training Materials 

Fiscal YearATI Staff TrainingDepartmental ATI Training
2007/2008$ 42,000$20,000
2006/2007$ 42,000$30,000
2005/2006$ 21,000$30,000

5. Breakdown of ATIP Office Operating Budget Used or Set Aside for ATI Consultants

Fiscal YearBudget AllocatedBudget Used
2007/2008$ 67,615$45,070
2006/2007$ 24,363$ 9390
2005/2006$ 0$ 0


D. LEADERSHIP FRAMEWORK

1. – Is the ATIP Coordinator responsible exclusively for the administration of the ATIP Office?

Yes NoX

2. – If No, please list other responsibilities of the ATIP Coordinator.

At HC the Coordinator oversees both the operations and the policy section of the ATIP Division. As such, on the Operations side, the Coordinator holds the delegation of authority and signs off on requests, as well as other administrative duties. On the policy side, the Coordinator is the departmental representative to a number of internal and external privacy and health information management policy forums, and leads policy development and implementation on privacy issues for HC.

3. – When requests processing stages, other than those listed in section A.4 of this questionnaire, are in place, who has the designated authority to make decisions on the disclosure or refusal to disclose information under theAccess to Information Act(s. 73)?

Under the delegation of authority order, the Coordinator is the designated authority to make decisions on the disclosure or refusal to disclose information under the Act.

E. SPECIFICS FOR 2007-2008

In this section, the institution is asked to provide details relating to the information provided in response to the questionnaire:

1. – Please describe the most significant issues that affected your institution's ability to (i) respond to access to information requests as quickly as possible and/or (ii) provide requesters with as much of the information requested as possible.

There are several key issues impacting on the ATIP Division’s ability to respond as quickly as possible
  • Staffing retention and turnover: Since the inclusion of the new agencies under the Act, there has been a chronic shortage of qualified personnel to fill analyst positions.
  • Lengthy delays in document retrieval by program areas:
While the ATIP division allows 7 days for document retrieval, due to large volumes of records being retrieved, it is not unusual for there to be longer lapses of time before the information is provided. Some program areas are retrieving upwards of 4,000 pages for requests.
  • Section 69 consultations: Historically, these are often delayed.
  • Large caseloads: ATI analysts at HC are working with a significant ratio of requests per worker. It is estimated that even when fully staffed, based on number of requests and number of pages to review, (which is steadily increasing), analysts will still be responsible for over 35 files each at any given time.

 
 

2. – For the issues identified in the response to Q. 1 above, were they foreseeable? Please explain.

Some issues are the result of uncontrollable events such as the shortage created by the inclusion of new agencies in the Act, the increase in the volume of pages to be reviewed. To respond to these issues, the ATIP division has developed tailored training for OPIs both in the National Capital Region and in the regions, and frequent reminders to OPIs to support the timely retrieval and review of records. The ATIP Division is exploring the possibility of designating the ATIP analysts as a shortage group in order to facilitate rapid staffing since high turnover of ATIP staff is likely to remain an issue for the coming years.


F. BEST PRACTICES

3. – Please describe any best practices developed / undertaken by your institution to improve your delivery of the access to information program. If possible, please indicate how successful these practices have been.

ATI division has implemented several new practices which have resulted in a substantive improvement to delivery of the program.
  • Significant reduction in the backlog of deemed refusals from previous years (down to 21 deemed refusals carried over in 2008-2009).
  • The portfolio approach fosters stronger working relationships between the Division and program areas, and greater understanding of particular subject matter, resulting in more accurate interpretation of the Act by program areas, and higher quality advisory services by analysts.
  • Tailored training and awareness sessions for program areas result in informed recommendations from program areas.
Additional information provided to OIC on July 11, 2008 about the portfolio approach: ATI analysts are assigned to specific programs or Branch of department in order to provide a constant link between OPI and the ATI Division, ensure that ATI analysts understand the program's business and are therefore able to process files more efficiently, and develop mutual understanding and reduce back and forth between the OPI and the ATI analyst.

G. COMPLAINT PROFILE

Data supplied by the Office of the Information Commissioner on complaints made to its Office and the resolution of those complaints.

See individual report card.