Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

Report Cards


Year


Previous Table of contents Next

Institutions assessed in 2008–2009

Canadian Heritage

Canadian Heritage is responsible for national policies and programs that promote Canadian content, foster cultural participation, active citizenship and participation in Canada’s civic life, and strengthen connections among Canadians.

2008–2009 report card at a glance

whole star empty star empty star empty star empty star
F

  • Deemed refusal rate was 40.8 percent.
  • The average time to complete a request was 107 days; 35 percent of requests took more than 120 days to complete.
  • Processing of records is delayed at the records retrieval and review stages, due to a two-step review process. Moreover, this process involves assistant deputy ministers, who do not have delegated authority for access to information at the institution.
  • The access to information function was funded on an ad hoc basis, which contributes to instability.
  • The access to information office was very short-staffed during the reporting period. Among other impacts, access officials were unable to take a proactive approach to providing awareness training to Canadian Heritage employees.
  • Canadian Heritage submitted the required notices of extensions longer than 30 days to the Office of the Information Commissioner 62 percent of the time.
  • The Office of the Information Commissioner resolved 13 out of the 25 complaints it registered against Canadian Heritage in 2008–2009. All the resolved complaints had to do with delays getting information to requesters.
  • Recent developments are a step in the right direction:
    • The access office brought in new employees on special assignments.
    • Canadian Heritage is now reviewing the resources required for the access function.
    • A senior analyst is now dedicated to closing requests in the backlog.
    • In 2009–2010, access officials offered more access awareness sessions than previously and are developing a plan for enhanced training throughout the institution.

Some facts about access to information operations at Canadian Heritage in 2008–2009

Number of requests carried over from 2007–2008
93
Number of new requests
294
Number of requests completed
239
Deemed refusal rate
40.8%*
Average time to complete a request (in days)
107
Number of consultation requests
106
Number of complaints registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner
25
Number of complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner resolved
13**
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information office, as of March 31, 2009
5.4
 

* Percentage of carried over and new requests delayed beyond the deadlines (30 days and extended) set out in the Access to Information Act. (See Appendix B for the formula the Office of the Information Commissioner used to calculate this rate.)

** A complaint is resolved when the Office of the Information Commissioner finds it has merit, and the institution resolves it to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.


2008–2009 report card

Despite the fact that access to information is a statutory requirement, access to information officials at Canadian Heritage reported during the interview for this report card that the function is given considerably less priority than the institution’s mandate-related programs.

Canadian Heritage took more than 120 days to complete 35 percent of the requests it received in 2008–2009; its overall average completion time was 107 days. The institution’s approach to retrieving and reviewing documents is delaying the processing of requests. Records holders retrieve the records, make severing recommendations and then send the proposed package to their own assistant deputy minister before it goes to the access to information office for processing. Then, the assistant deputy minister sees the records again in their final, highlighted version. Canadian Heritage reports that this two-step process creates an administrative burden, takes analysts away from the business of handling other requests and makes it harder to meet its legislated deadlines.

This review process involving assistant deputy ministers has too many layers and is questionable in light of the delegation order, which gives only the deputy minister, corporate secretary and director of the access to information office full delegated authority to approve and release information. The one mitigating factor in terms of delays is that when several assistant deputy ministers are involved in reviewing documents, their input is sought concurrently, not consecutively, as was formerly the case. The proposed disclosure package is also sent to communications and the minister’s office for information purposes only.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) registered 25 complaints against Canadian Heritage in 2008–2009 and resolved 13 of them. All the resolved complaints had to do with delays getting information to requestors.

Access to information officials said that Canadian Heritage funds the access to information office on an ad hoc, rather than a fixed, basis, which compromises its stability.

The access to information office was very short of staff in 2008–2009 after a complete turnover. Given the shortage, a temporary staff member was hired to work on the backlog, which Canadian Heritage acknowledged was not a sustainable strategy but was necessary.

The personnel shortage meant that access officials were unable to take a proactive approach to access awareness training across the institution. This compounded the overall problem of compliance, since lack of organizational awareness is detrimental to the success of any access program. Canadian Heritage’s access to information trainer reported that employees are sometimes surprised when apprised of their responsibilities under the Access to Information Act.

As a staffing strategy, Canadian Heritage subsequently took advantage of a federal program (the Special Assignment Pay Plan) to bring experienced public servants into the access office on special assignments to quickly augment the access staff team.

Canadian Heritage reports that it is taking a number of steps to improve compliance with the Access to Information Act. This is encouraging; however, the institution’s poor compliance in 2008–2009, which was the first year it was part of the report card process, indicates that there is an urgent need for further efforts to streamline the document retrieval and review process, to stabilize funding, and recruit and train new staff.

Recommendations

1. The OIC recommends that Canadian Heritage senior executives strictly follow the delegated authority order to eliminate inappropriate levels of approval.

Response

The delegated authority is followed by the institution.

The program areas with their expertise in the subject matter review the material and provide recommendations; they do not approve the application of exemptions.

The communications branch and the minister’s office are provided with release packages of requests for information purposes only.

2. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage allocate the necessary human and financial resources in order to comply with the Access to Information Act.

Response

The deputy minister has supported the increase in resources in the Access to Information and Privacy Secretariat to properly administer the Access to Information Act.

A review of the financial and human resources requirements of the Secretariat is currently being conducted.

3. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Canadian Heritage develop and implement a multi-year plan to improve compliance with the Act, with particular attention to eliminating its backlog.

Response

Canadian Heritage has initiated several changes in procedures to improve compliance.

Several strategies to reduce the backlog have been established. A senior officer is dedicated full time to the backlog.

Processes will continue to be reviewed for further streamlining possibilities.

Timeliness of responses from program areas will continue to be closely monitored.

4. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Canadian Heritage develop a training plan for access to information staff and records holders.

Response

Canadian Heritage supports increasing the awareness of the access to information and privacy legislation within the institution.

Staff in the Secretariat have learning plans and are encouraged to continuously develop their skills.

An increased number of training sessions for program areas have taken place this fiscal year.

Access to information is discussed in the Working @ PCH orientation sessions for employees who are new to the department.

A training plan is being developed that includes the following:

  • updating learning tools on the access to information and privacy intranet site;
  • creating a training session for program access to information and privacy liaisons; and
  • establishing joint training sessions with the department’s information management and information technology groups for departmental employees.

5. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Canadian Heritage comply with the Act and notify the Office of the Information Commissioner of all the extensions it takes for more than 30 days.

Response

Notifying the Office of the Information Commissioner when extensions are taken for more than 30 days is part of the procedures of the Secretariat.

The Secretariat will ensure that the procedures are followed.

 

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

Canadian Heritage reported that it completed 57 of the requests it received in 2008–2009 after their due date. This graph shows how long these requests stayed open beyond that deadline. It is of concern that 53 percent of these requests were late by more than 30 days.

How long requests completed late were overdue, 2008–2009

Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

This graph shows the number and length of the time extensions Canadian Heritage reported to have taken in 2008–2009. Canadian Heritage supplied this information in the notices it sent to the OIC under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. Canadian Heritage submitted the notices 62 percent of the time in 2008–2009; the OIC expects this figure to be 100 percent in 2009–2010.

Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

Number and outcome of delay-related complaints to the OIC, 2006–2007 to 2008–2009

These graphs show the number and outcome of two types of complaint registered against Canadian Heritage in the last three reporting periods: complaints about deemed refusals (access to information requests that Canadian Heritage delayed beyond the deadlines—30 days and extended—set out in the Access to Information Act) and complaints about Canadian Heritage’s use of the time extensions allowed under the Act. Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds to have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

Deemed refusal complaints

Deemed refusal complaints

The OIC resolved 10 out of the 12 deemed refusal complaints registered against Canadian Heritage in 2008–2009.

Time extension complaints

Time extension complaints

The number and outcome of time extension complaints against Canadian Heritage were mixed in the last three years.


Number and outcome of complaints to the OIC, 2006–2007 to 2008–2009

This table sets out the number and outcome of the Office of the Information Commissioner registered against Canadian Heritage in each of the last three reporting periods. Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds to have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

  Resolved Not
substantiated
Discontinued Pending Total
2006–2007
Administrative 3 6 0 0 9
Refusals 3 0 1 2 6
Cabinet confidences 0 2 0 0 2
Total 6 8 1 2 17
2007–2008
Administrative 0 4 6 0 10
Refusals 0 0 1 1 2
Cabinet confidences 0 0 1 0 1
Total 0 4 8 1 13
2008–2009
Administrative 13 2 5 1 21
Refusals 0 0 0 4 4
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 0 0
Total 13 2 5 5 25

Each year, administrative complaints, which include those about delays and time extensions, accounted for the majority of the complaints (9 of 17; 10 of 13; 21 of 25). The number of resolved administrative complaints rose sharply from 2007–2008 to 2008–2009 (from 0 to 13). In contrast, there were no resolved refusal complaints in either 2007–2008 or 2008–2009.

Previous Table of contents Next