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Report Cards


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Institutions assessed in 2008–2009

Telefilm Canada

In partnership with the Government of Canada, Telefilm Canada provides financial and other support to the Canadian film, television and new media industries. Telefilm Canada meets the diverse needs of these industries through a wide range of programs to support the development to the marketing of finished products in Canada and abroad.

2008–2009 report card at a glance

No Rating

The Office of the Information Commissioner decided not to rate Telefilm Canada on its compliance with the Act in 2008–2009, which was an atypical year for the institution. In particular, since 33 of the 39 complaints against Telefilm Canada were pending at the end of the year, the Office of the Information Commission did not have a complete set of data on which to base its assessment.

  • The deemed refusal rate was 0 percent and the average completion time was 117 days.
  • In the past two years, Telefilm Canada has received an exceptionally high number of requests. The institution hired an external consultant as well as an additional employee to deal with this increase.
  • The institution required extensions for more than 43 percent of requests to handle the volume and consult with other federal institutions.
  • The institution submitted a notice of extension of more than 30 days to the Office of the Information Commissioner 60 percent of the time.
  • According to the 12 notices of extension the Office of the Information Commissioner received, all extensions were for 180 days or more, with 660 days being the maximum.
  • Telefilm Canada managed to cut its backlog in half by the end of the year.
  • At the end of 2008–2009, 33 complaints were pending. Consequently, the sample of resolved files was insufficient to determine Telefilm Canada’s compliance.
  • The complexity of the requests received has grown in the past two years.
  • The situation returned somewhat to normal in 2009–2010. Telefilm Canada aims to respond to most requests within the 30-day time limit.

Some facts about access to information operations at Telefilm Canada in 2008–2009

Number of requests carried over from 2007–2008
34
Number of new requests
46
Number of requests completed
65
Deemed refusal rate
0%*
Average time to complete a request (in days)
117
Number of consultation requests
5
Number of complaints registered with the Office of the Information Commissioner
39
Number of complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner resolved
4**
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information office, as of March 31, 2009
1.3
 

* 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

Although Telefilm Canada has been subject to the Access to Information Act since its enactment, this is the first time a report card is being prepared for the institution. Telefilm Canada is a small Crown corporation that generally receives a low and steady number of access to information requests—20 or so per year—that it deals with informally for the most part. However, the volume doubled in 2007–2008, with most requests originating from the same group of requesters. This increase slowed slightly in 2008–2009. Telefilm Canada began the year with a considerable backlog of requests, but managed to cut it in half by the end of the year.

Telefilm Canada did not have sufficient staff to handle the surge in requests within the time limit set out by the Act. As a result, the institution hired an external consultant as well as an additional employee. To tackle this significant challenge, Telefilm Canada also required extensions for more than 43 percent of the requests received to consult with other institutions and to offset the serious hindrance to its operations as a result of the large number of documents requested or the extent of research required.

The Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) received 39 complaints in total against Telefilm Canada during the reporting period, which accounts for 85 percent of the requests received by the institution. Most of these complaints pertained to exemptions under the Act (refusal complaints), followed by complaints about extensions. By the end of the period, 33 complaints were pending. Consequently, the sample of resolved files is insufficient to determine Telefilm Canada’s performance.

According to 12 notices of extension the OIC received, all extensions were for 180 days or more, with 660 days being the maximum. The OIC received six complaints about extensions, resolving four and with two pending at the end of the period.

The institution generally handles access requests informally and only responds formally to a handful per year. Telefilm Canada submits that this approach follows the “duty to assist” principle, since the institution attaches additional information to documents to provide clarity and to better serve the needs of the requesters.

Telefilm Canada finds that the requests it has been receiving recently are increasingly complex, often requiring interpretation of multiple pieces of legislation, archival research and international consultations.

The past two years have been unusual for Telefilm Canada in terms of the volume of requests. The institution put in place temporary measures to offset this surge. The situation returned to somewhat normal at the beginning of 2009–2010, with a substantial drop in the number of requests. Telefilm Canada indicated that its performance, particularly the average time it takes to complete requests, will improve in 2009−2010. Telefilm Canada aims to respond to most requests within the initial 30-day time limit. The OIC will follow this progress with great interest.

Recommendations

1. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Telefilm Canada review and continue to document the criteria it uses for extensions to ensure they are legitimate and reasonable.

Response

Telefilm Canada reviewed each complete request received by the institution as soon as possible. In each case where it was determined that a notice of extension of the completion time was necessary, Telefilm Canada sent the applicant, within 30 days of receipt of the complete request, a notice of reasonable extension in accordance with the criteria set out in section 9 of the Access to Information Act.

Telefilm Canada will continue to review each request and document the criteria it uses for extensions. It will also continue to exercise caution and diligence by taking into consideration the OIC’s requirements that a file be completed within the time limit set out in the notice of extension.

2. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Telefilm Canada reduce its average completion time for requests.

Response

Telefilm Canada is a small Crown corporation with roughly 200 employees, and generally receives around 20 requests per year. These require less than one person/year to handle. In 2008–2009, Telefilm Canada handled 65 formal access to information requests, a 325 percent jump in volume. To manage the increase, Telefilm Canada used an external consulting company and added one person/year to the resources it dedicates to handling access to information files. The nature of most requests appears to be more complex due to the need to interpret several pieces of legislation, conduct archival research, and hold national and international consultations. Also, the systematic filing of complaints (39 in 2008–2009 alone) by a small group of applicants on the heels of the vast majority of requests had a hard-hitting effect on Telefilm Canada’s already crippled capacity to deal with the sudden surge in requests. Given this phenomenal workload and the necessary consultations, Telefilm Canada was forced into longer extensions, in accordance with section 9 of the Access to Information Act. Without these extensions, our institution’s operations would have been seriously hampered.

Barring the unexpected, Telefilm Canada anticipates the volume of new requests to gradually return to normal in 2009–2010. In the first nine months of the 2009–2010 fiscal year, Telefilm Canada received 15 new access to information requests, most of which were completed in less than 30 days. Telefilm Canada plans to continue its commitment to process documents required for an access request as soon as possible. Unless the volume and/or complexity of requests changes or consultations are required, for instance, Telefilm Canada expects to complete most requests it receives within the initial 30-day time limit.

3. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Telefilm Canada institute requirements for documenting the rationale for claiming all exemptions, for the exercise of discretion and for the consideration of exceptions to mandatory consultations.

Response

For each request, Telefilm Canada incorporates the information required to apply the relevant provisions of the Access to Information Act and is strict in doing so for all its files. The files need only be consulted for answers to questions about exemptions, discretion and consultations.

Telefilm Canada plans to continue to document its files to be able to justify all requests for claiming exemption, for the exercise of discretion and for the consideration of exceptions to mandatory consultations.

4. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that Telefilm Canada comply with the Act and notify the OIC of all extensions exceeding 30 days.

Response

Telefilm Canada systematically and regularly mails to the OIC copies of all notices of extension sent to the applicant in cases for which an extension beyond 30 days was necessary.

To more conclusively monitor the transmission and reception of notices of extension exceeding 30 days, Telefilm Canada proposes to systematically send the notices to the OIC by fax or courier in future.


Number and length of time extensions reported in 2008–2009

This graph shows the number and length of extensions Telefilm Canada reported to have taken in 2008–2009. Telefilm Canada supplied this information in the notices it submitted to the OIC under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. Telefilm Canada submitted the notices 60 percent of the time 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 (2007–2008 to 2008–2009)

This graph shows the number and outcome of complaints registered against Telefilm Canada in the last two reporting periods about its use of the time extensions allowed under the Act. Resolved complaints are those that the Office of the Information Commissioner finds to have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner’s satisfaction.

Time extension complaints

Time extension complaints

Telefilm Canada received no extension complaints in 2007–2008. The considerable increase in the use of extensions by Telefilm Canada in 2008–2009 led to six complaints that year.


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

This table sets out the number and outcome of the complaints the OIC registered against Telefilm Canada in each of the last two 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
2007–2008
Administrative 0 0 0 2 2
Refusals 0 1 0 6 7
Cabinet confidences 1 0 0 0 1
Total 1 1 0 8 10
2008–2009
Administrative 4 0 0 4 8
Refusals 0 1 1 29 31
Cabinet confidences 0 0 0 0 0
Total 4 1 1 33 39

Telefilm Canada did not receive any complaints in 2006–2007. In 2007–2008, the OIC received a total of 10 complaints; this jumped to 39 in 2008–2009. Most of the complaints (7 of 10; 31 of 39) pertained to refusal of access (application of exemptions). Nearly all the complaints in 2008–2009 (33 of 39) were pending at the end of the year.

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