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Workload Profile

The total workload of investigations that the office faced in this reporting year is reflected in Table 1 and totalled some 3,500 investigations (Table 6 shows the distribution of complaints from individuals by province/territory).

Table 1 also shows that the office was able to complete 1,863 investigations and reviews, and will carry over to next year 1,417 complaints from individuals, plus 237 systemic complaints.

As can be seen from Table 2, delay-related complaints (deemed refusals and time extensions) account for 43% of complaints received, exceeding complaints about refusals to disclose, which accounted for 40% of complaints received. Moreover, as reflected in Table 3, 92% of complaints in the deemed-refusal and time-extension categories had merit - as compared with 64% of refusal to disclose complaints (discontinued complaints are ignored in the calculation of these percentages since the Commissioner had not decided on the merit of those cases).

These results suggest that excessive secrecy by government institutions is not as significant a problem as is failure to respect the 30-day response period or properly manage the provisions in the statute that offer institutions the opportunity to extend the 30-day deadline. It would appear that the most serious compliance problem in the system is one of process.

Put another way, government institutions have it within their control to significantly reduce the number of complaints made to the Information Commissioner, merely by properly managing the "process" elements of the access to information program. With respect to the "judgement" elements (i.e. whether or not to invoke exemptions to justify refusals to disclose), institutions appear to be doing relatively well.

It is for this reason that this Commissioner will make it a priority to encourage, and work with, the President of the Treasury Board to implement solutions to the process-related problems that appear to be the main impediments to the full realization of the rights contained in the Act.

Table 4 provides a breakdown of the complaints completed this year by government institution. The "top ten" list of institutions against which complaints with merit were made is:

1.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

109 of 132

2.

Canada Border Services Agency

50 of 52

3.

National Defence

42 of 74

4.

Health Canada

40 of 50

5.

Privy Council Office

37 of 56

6.

Public Works and Government Services Canada

32 of 57

7.

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

31 of 38

8.

Canada Revenue Agency

28 of 389

9.

Transport Canada

21 of 27

10.

Environment Canada

20 of 31

A comparison of this "top ten" list of institutions with the list of the poorest performing "report card" institutions (see page 25) reveals a remarkably close parallel - as would be expected. This confirms the view that the basis of the report card grades (percentage of requests received in deemed refusal) is a remarkably good indicator of overall departmental performance under the Act.


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