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Correctional Service of Canada

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) manages correctional institutions of various security levels housing offenders serving sentences of two years or more. CSC also supervises offenders under conditional release in the community. CSC contributes to public safety by actively encouraging and assisting offenders to become law-abiding citizens, providing programs for them during their sentences.

Assessment: D

(Received an F in 2008–2009)

  • CSC improved its performance in 2010–2011, even though it received 47 percent more new requests and 33 percent more consultation requests than it did in 2008–2009. CSC's deemed refusal rate was 13.7 percent and the average time to complete a request was 46 days. However, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) has concerns about practices at CSC related to the retrieval of records and that the number of complaints has increased since 2008–2009.
  • CSC attributes its improved performance to receiving $1.7 million in additional funding to hire 14 new full-time staff, developing a compliance manual, taking a proactive approach to dealing with requesters, and moving to electronic redaction software.
  • While CSC's performance is better than it was, there is considerable room for improvement. To that end, the OIC has issued seven new recommendations (2010-2011 Recommendations).
QUICK FACTS
2008–2009 2010–2011
Number of requests carried over from previous fiscal year 126 84
Number of new requests 408 601
Number of requests completed 455 548
Number of pages reviewed for requests completed 41,054 55,663
Deemed refusal rate 47%* 13.7%*
Average number of days to complete a request 110 46
Number of consultation requests received 69 92
Percentage of required extension notices submitted to the OIC <85% <85%
Number of complaints registered with the OIC 57 82
Number of complaints the OIC resolved 20** 23**
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information operations, as of the end of the fiscal year 10.5 12.5
Follow-up on 2008–2009 recommendations

Leadership: culture of compliance............... Met expectations

Leadership: communicate expectations to staff............... Met expectations

Resources......................................................... Met expectations

Average completion time............................... Met expectations

Extension notices............................ Did not meet expectations

See report card text for details. For the full text of the recommendations, as well as the institution's initial response and October 2010 progress report, go here.

* 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 OIC used to calculate this rate).

** A complaint is resolved when the OIC finds it has merit and the institution resolves it to the Commissioner's satisfaction. The number of complaints reported here is current as of November 2011. As a result, the figure for 2008–2009 may be different from what appeared in the 2008–2009 report card.

Report card

The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) improved its performance in 2010–2011, even though it received 47 percent more new requests and 33 percent more consultations than in 2008–2009. CSC's deemed refusal rate was 13.7 percent and the average time to complete a request was 46 days.

While this trend is positive, the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) has two specific concerns. The first is that the number of extensions taken by CSC has increased significantly. The second is that, according to the results of some complaint investigations, CSC appears to be increasing the timeliness of its response by, in some instances, not retrieving and processing requested records. CSC's decision to not process all requested information is contrary to the requirements of the Access to Information Act and the January 16, 2012, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act. The OIC will continue to monitor this situation closely.

The OIC is also concerned about the 44-percent increase in the number of complaints: from 57 in 2008–2009 to 82 in 2010–2011. That said, 51 percent of the complaints registered in 2010–2011 that have been closed were found to be not substantiated or were discontinued.

In response to the 2008–2009 report card, access officials at CSC put forward a business case that resulted in their receiving an additional $1.7 million in funding for the access function. This included funding for an additional 14 full-time employees, eight of whom perform tele-work the majority of the time. CSC has had some success recruiting internally, and regularly receives expressions of interest from employees in other organizations, who reportedly find the nature of CSC's files interesting. CSC has also recently developed a formal career progression program in the hopes of retaining staff. The coordinator reports some concern about whether the resource levels will continue to be sufficient if request volumes climb at a level commensurate with an anticipated increase in the number of federal inmates, who frequently submit access to information requests to CSC.

Other developments include a new compliance manual created by the policy and training unit, which serves as an authoritative guide for access staff. The manual details the steps involved in processing requests, explains the application of specific exemptions and exclusions, and contains important policy information. CSC has also seen a renewed focus on training, with the access unit delivering 15 training sessions to more than 300 employees in 2010–2011. Among these was three-day, on-the-job training for the access liaisons in the program areas. Since the training has been positively received, CSC intends to expand these sessions in the future.

CSC reported that a proactive approach to dealing with requesters and making an effort to fulfill its duty to assist have also been helpful in processing requests in a timely manner.

The organization moved to electronic redaction software in 2010–2011, which CSC expects will result in increased efficiencies in responding to access to information requests. Also of note is the access to information office's visible presence on CSC's website. Here, the public can easily access information on the duty to assist, as well as annual reports and frequently asked questions.

Again, since a large number of CSC's requesters are federal inmates, this creates unique access-related challenges. One has been the format in which to provide documents to inmates, since CDs are not allowed (they can be used as weapons) and inmates may only hold 1,000 pages of documents in their cell at a given time. In addition, some requested records are only available on the Internet, and inmates cannot always easily access a computer.

To respond to these challenges, CSC is exploring putting a dedicated computer station in penal libraries with limited Internet access and the necessary software so that inmates can review their requested documents online. Erratum: After going to press, the Correctional Service of Canada clarified this sentence. It should read as follows: "To respond to these challenges, CSC is exploring making dedicated computers available to inmates with the necessary software to allow them restricted access to the requested information and documents. " This would also help alleviate an OIC concern that has come to light during complaint investigations that CSC is refusing access to inmates under paragraph 68(a) of the Access to Information Act because the information they requested is already available to the public.

Follow-up on the 2008–2009 recommendations

The OIC issued five recommendations to CSC with the 2008–2009 report card. The following summarizes the subsequent developments at the institution in response. (For the full text of the recommendations, the institution's response and its October 2010 progress report, go here.)

  1. The OIC was concerned in 2008–2009 about whether CSC senior management was providing sufficient leadership to promote a culture of compliance across the organization. In 2010, CSC's Commissioner reiterated to management that the provisions of the Access to Information Act must be respected regarding timelines and provision of records.
  2. In response to the OIC's recommendation that CSC clearly communicate to staff that they are expected to comply with the terms of the Act, the Deputy Commissioner issued a memorandum providing detailed instructions on the procedures and timelines for responding to access requests.
  3. Based on the OIC's recommendation, access officials at CSC put together a business case for more funding. This resulted in an influx of $1.7 million, including funding for an additional 14 full-time employees.
  4. In response to the OIC's recommendation, CSC decreased its average completion time for requests to 46 days, from 110 in 2008–2009.
  5. In 2008–2009, CSC submitted fewer than 85 percent of the required notices about the extensions it took for more than 30 days. In 2010–2011, while the number of submissions improved, CSC did not meet the OIC's 85-percent standard for acceptable performance.

Access to information workload, 2008–2009 to 2010–2011

This graph shows the sources of the Correctional Service of Canada's workload for the three fiscal years starting in 2008–2009. Comparing 2008–2009 to 2010–2011, the institution saw a 29-percent increase in its workload. This is largely due to the 47-percent increase in new requests. Consultation requests increased as well, by one third, but this was balanced by the institution's carrying over one-third fewer requests from the previous fiscal year. The number of pages reviewed for requests completed increased by 36 percent.

Access to information workload, 2008–2009 to 2010–2011

Text Version

How long it took to complete new requests, 2008–2009 and 2010–2011

Between 2008–2009 and 2010–2011, the proportion of new access requests the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) completed within the timelines (30 days and extended) set out in the Access to Information Act increased from 56 percent to 88 percent. The remaining requests were completed late: 169 requests in 2008–2009 and 58 in 2010–2011. In 2010–2011, CSC took time extensions for almost as many requests as it completed within 30 days. Despite this, CSC was the subject of only five time extension complaints in 2010–2011, compared to three in 2008–2009.

How long it took to complete new requests, 2008–2009 and 2010–2011

Text Version

Number and length of time extensions taken, 2008–2009 and 2010–2011

This graph shows the number and length of the time extensions the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) reported to have taken in 2008–2009 and 2010–2011. The institution supplied this information in the notices it sent to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. CSC submitted fewer than 85 percent of the required notices in 2008–2009, at which point the OIC issued a recommendation that CSC improve its performance in this area. While the institution did submit more notices in 2010–2011, it did not meet the OIC's 85-percent standard for acceptable performance. The OIC notes the significant increase in the number of time extensions CSC took between 2008–2009 and 2010–2011.

Number and length of time extensions taken, 2008–2009 and 2010–2011

Text Version

Number and outcome of delay-related complaints, 2008–2009 to 2010–2011

These graphs show the number and outcome of two types of complaint registered against the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) in the three fiscal years starting in 2008–2009: complaints about deemed refusals (access to information requests that CSC delayed beyond the deadlines—30 days and extended—set out in the Access to Information Act) and complaints about CSC's use of the time extensions allowed under the Act. CSC was the subject of more deemed refusal and time extension complaints in 2010–2011 than in 2008–2009, but in each instance roughly half of these were not substantiated or were discontinued.

Number and outcome of delay-related complaints, 2008–2009 to 2010–2011

Text Version

Number and outcome of complaints received by the Office of the Information Commissioner, 2008–2009 to 2010–2011

This table sets out the number and outcome of the complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) registered against the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) in the three fiscal years starting in 2008–2009. CSC has seen its complaint numbers increase 44 percent since the 2008–2009 report card. The largest jumps were in fees and miscellaneous complaints, both of which fall under the administrative category. Of the complaints registered in 2010–2011 that have been closed, 51 percent were found to be not substantiated or were discontinued; 17 complaints are pending.

 

Resolved*

Not substantiated

Discontinued

Pending

Total

2008–2009
Administrative1216019
Refusals81061337
Cabinet confidences01001
Total2012121357
2009–2010
Administrative924419
Refusals4931834
Cabinet confidences00000
Total131172253
2010–2011
Administrative191512248
Refusals41051534
Cabinet confidences00000
Total2325171782

* Resolved complaints are those that the OIC finds to have merit and that the institution resolves to the Commissioner's satisfaction.

2010–2011 recommendations

Although CSC's performance was better in 2010–2011 than it was in 2008–2009, there is still considerable room for improvement. As a result, the OIC is issuing seven new recommendations.

1.  Given its circumstances, the Correctional Service of Canada is at risk of reverting to a lower level of performance. The Office of the Information Commissioner therefore recommends that the Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada demonstrate the leadership necessary to stabilize access to information operations and create a culture of compliance throughout the institution.

RESPONSE: The Commissioner will hold a discussion at the next available Executive Committee Meeting about the ATIP process and the importance of respecting the provisions of the Act and for the senior executives to further demonstrate leadership in this area with their respective regions and sectors.

In order to ensure compliance within CSC, random compliance reports will be done, analyzed and shared with the Executive Committee.

Compliance will be reviewed on a quarterly basis and shared with Executive Committee.

Staffing in the ATIP Division will be stabilized in order to ensure a full access to information staff complement in order to meet all requirements of the ATI Act.

2.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that access to information performance be integrated into the performance management agreements of all senior management positions responsible for the access program at the Correctional Service of Canada.

RESPONSE: The Commissioner will ensure that the ATI responsibility forms part of all senior officials' performance agreements. It should be noted that since the last report card, senior management has been responsible for signing off all OPI Transmittal Note and Checklists, ensuring accuracy and thoroughness of all ATI retrievals.

3.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada continue to reduce its deemed refusal rate to zero.

RESPONSE: As CSC ATIP strives to improve its compliance rate in responding to requests within the legislated time frames, the following has been implemented:
  • CSC ATIP office has increased its FTE complement by 14 as a result of funding allocated through a business case.
  • Regular ATI awareness sessions for CSC employees to improve response times and deliverables.
  • CSC ATIP is exploring innovative ways to maximize efficiencies through process, procedural and
    technology improvements.
  • It is also exploring the possibility of the use of the ATIP Scanning Workflow, a component of Access Pro Redaction software currently used by the ATIP Division. The business process would provide ATIP Liaisons across the country the ability to scan documents to specific 7-Correctional_Service_of_Canadas on the national file server. This will require completion of a business case for consideration by the organization. 
  • A complaint review process has been established with regular ongoing discussions with OIC staff.
  • In its Duty to Assist, CSC ATIP negotiates with applicants to reduce scope and offer alternatives, where possible, as in previously released information, publicly accessible documentation or informal discussions with program officials.
  • CSC ATIP will continue to reduce its deemed refusal rate from 47% in 2008–2009 to less than 10% in 2012–2013. The deemed refusal rate for 2010–2011 was 13.7%.
These continued efforts are expected to result in a reduction of the deemed refusal rate.

4.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that, pursuant to the Access to Information Act and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Directive on the Administration of the Access to Information Act, the Correctional Service of Canada retrieve all responsive records for each request for consideration of the proper delegated authority to apply extensions and invoke exclusions, regardless of whether the program areas are of the view that all the information will be exempt from disclosure.

RESPONSE: An OPI Liaison has been designated in every sector and regional office in order to assist ATIP in tracking responses received and ensuring that all responsive documents have been submitted.

On-the-job training sessions are offered to new Liaisons in order for them to familiarize themselves with the ATI procedures and ATIP functions.Training sessions are offered on a regular basis to employees, for example through the New Employee Orientation Training, Warden and Deputy Warden sessions.  A memorandum will be sent by the AC Policy to the Executive Committee members reinforcing the importance of providing all relevant documentation in response to ATI requests and ensuring that each sector and region has a dedicated ATIP Liaison.

5.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada maintain the resourcing levels needed to respond to the growing volume of access to information requests.

RESPONSE: Further to changes in legislation concerning Public Safety, a business case was prepared and permanent funding has been received for an additional 14 FTEs. Acting appointments are provided to staff in order for them to learn the ATI process and provide promotional opportunities within the Division, thereby, ensuring staff retention given the government shortage of ATI specialists.

6.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada comply with the Act and notify the Office of the Information Commissioner of all the extensions it takes for more than 30 days.

RESPONSE: In response to the 2008–2009 Report Card, the ATIP Division reviewed its internal practices and modified its extension letter template to ensure that a c.c. appeared at the bottom of the letter prompting the ATIP analyst to send a copy to the Information Commissioner's Office.  

As a method to ensure that notification is done and received by the OIC, a transmittal note requiring acknowledgement of receipt will now be attached to each letter being forwarded to the OIC. As a further measure, the file numbers will be also provided to the OIC by AC Policy.

Furthermore, CSC ATIP will follow up with the OIC on a quarterly basis to ascertain that all notifications have been received and to undertake any required corrective measures in case of missing extension notices.

The ATIP Division will reinforce to its staff the necessity of complying with this legislative requirement by reminding management at weekly meetings and by sending emails to the ATI staff reminding them of their obligations.

7.  The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Correctional Service of Canada report on its progress in response to these recommendations in its annual report to Parliament on access to information operations.

RESPONSE: The CSC ATIP office will ensure that all progress regarding the recommendations made in the Report Card are reflected in its Annual Report to Parliament on ATIA Operations.

As well, AC Policy responsible for the ATI functions will be providing to the Assistant Commissioner OIC, an update of CSC's compliance to the Act on a quarterly basis.