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CHAPTER III:

INVESTIGATIONS AND REVIEWS

A: Workload Statistics

This reporting year, 1,506 complaints were lodged with the Information Commissioner against government institutions and 1,140 investigations were completed (see Table 1). Table 1B shows that 21.1 percent of all complaints received concerned delays. As can be seen from that table, this is up from last year’s 14.4 percent of complaints, which sounds an alarm that the incidence of delays is once again on the rise. In addition to the complaints received this year, the office responded to 1,387 inquiries.

Table 2 shows the results of the 1,140 completed investigations. Of the cases that were not discontinued (withdrawn by the complainant) or cancelled, 99 percent were resolved without the commissioner having to go to the Federal Court. (Since 96 of the 104 unresolved complaints were interconnected in that they were all requesting the same census information, they are being treated as one file for litigation purposes.)

Table 3 shows the median overall turnaround time for complaint investigations. The median time to complete a file increased to 7.45 months from 5.57 months last year. This increase was due to the negative effects of inadequate resources to meet the burden of work and the effect of two significant investigations, which took a long time to complete. These are the census cases mentioned above and another major investigation consisting of over fifty complaints.

Table 3A shows the effect on completion time of the workload in the difficult complaint categories. It also illustrates the deterioration of turnaround times for both standard and difficult cases.

Table 1 shows a disturbing increase in incomplete investigations. Last year, it was 1,019; this year, it is 1,385. It has been impossible to sustain the modest improvements in turnaround times and the reduction of the backlog due to the continuing and severe lack of resources. As noted last year, the mandate of the Information Commissioner to complete timely and thorough investigations cannot be met with the current resources. Neither can the Information Commissioner act as an effective watchdog with these resources.

Table 4 shows the distribution of completed complaints against 60 government institutions. Of these complaints, 64 percent were made against only ten government institutions. Once again, only a few institutions account for the bulk of all complaints.

Of the complaints closed this fiscal year, the top ten "complained against" institutions were:

1. National Defence 132
2. Royal Canadian Mounted Police 96
3. Statistics Canada 96
4. Public Works and Government Services Canada 84
5. Privy Council Office 63
6. Transport Canada 61
7. Citizenship and Immigration Canada 57
8. Canada Revenue Agency 50
9. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 47
10. Justice Canada 46

Being on this top ten list does not necessarily mean that these institutions performed badly. A more accurate way to assess "performance" is to look at the number of complaints against each institution which were found to have merit versus the number which were found not to be substantiated. This year’s top ten institutions against which complaints made were found to have merit were:

1. Statistics Canada 96
2. National Defence 73
3. Royal Canadian Mounted Police 67
4. Public Works and Government Services Canada 57
5. Transport Canada 55
6. Privy Council Office 41
7. Citizenship and Immigration Canada 40
8. Fisheries and Oceans Canada 36
9. Canada Revenue Agency 34
10. Justice Canada 34