Canada Post Corporation

Canada Post Corporation operates Canada’s postal delivery service, running more than 6,600 post offices across the country and processing 45 million pieces of mail per business day.

Rating: F

(Received a Red Alert in 2009–2010)

Assessment

  • Although it has taken some steps towards improving its performance, Canada Post is still far from achieving optimal compliance with the Act.
  • Canada Post reduced its deemed refusal rate by 39 percent, but it remains unacceptably high at 44.9 percent.
  • Canada Post took time extensions of more than 30 days for 27 percent of the requests it received in 2011–2012. Most were for 31 to 90 days.
  • The number of complaints against Canada Post increased to 46 in 2011–2012, from 35 two years previously. The majority relate to refusals to disclose information.
  • Canada Post’s updated delegation order still restricts many functions to senior management.
  • Canada Post reduced its backlog significantly, from 124 requests in February 2011, when it launched a dedicated plan to do so, to 11 as of October 2012.
Quick facts 2009–2010 2011–2012
Number of requests carried over from previous fiscal year 73 110
Number of new requests 78 75
Number of requests completed 84 137
Number of pages reviewed for requests completed 9,815 29,301
Deemed refusal rate* 73.5% 44.9%
Average number of days to complete a request 190 328
Average number of days to complete a request received in reporting period 55 58
Number of consultation requests received 15 21
Percentage of required extension notices submitted to the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) 30% 100%
Number of complaints registered with the OIC 35 46
Number of complaints the OIC resolved** (9) 17 10
Number of full-time equivalents in access to information operations, as of the end of the fiscal year 7 7

*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 A 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 reflects complaints resolved as of October 2012. For comparative purposes, the figure that appeared in the 2009–2010 report card is presented in parentheses. See Figure 5 for more information.

Follow-up on 2009–2010 recommendations

Leadership Did not meet expectations
Action plan Did not fully meet expectations
Delegation order Did not meet expectations
Extension notices Met expectations
Deemed refusal rate Did not meet expectations

See report card text for details (full text of the recommendations).

Report card

Although Canada Post improved its compliance with the Access to Information Act in 2011–2012, it did not fully implement the recommendations the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) issued in 2009–2010. As a result, the institution did not significantly improve its rating in this report card. We are, however, cautiously optimistic that Canada Post would continue to improve its performance if it were to commit to fully implementing our recommendations.

The first recommendation made in the 2009–2010 report card was that the President and CEO demonstrate leadership to establish access to information and its legislative obligations as a priority. This recommendation was based on our experience that leadership by all levels is the key to effective compliance with the Act. Our review of Canada Post’s compliance in 2011–2012 shows that the President and CEO made some efforts to increase the level of engagement and awareness of the importance of transparency. However, Canada Post continues to lag behind other similarly situated institutions in its implementation of the legislative requirements of the Act. Although there are some signs of improvement, we conclude that more needs to be done by Canada Post’s President and CEO and his senior executive team to inspire and establish a culture of transparency across the institution.

Another recommendation was that Canada Post reduce its deemed refusal rate to zero. While the institution reduced its deemed refusal rate by 39 percent from 2009–2010 to 2011–2012, we are of the view that—at 44.9 percent—it remains unacceptable.

We are also concerned that the cost of reducing the deemed refusal rate has been an increase in Canada Post’s use of time extensions. In 2009–2010, Canada Post extended 4 percent of its requests for more than 30 days; in 2011–2012, it took extensions of more than 30 days for 27 percent of the requests it received. This is a significant increase, although we note that the bulk of the extensions taken in 2011–2012 were for fewer than 90 days (see Figure 3). In light of this increase, we will monitor Canada Post’s use of extensions through our complaint investigations and our review of the institution’s annual report to Parliament on access to information operations.

In 2009–2010, we also recommended that Canada Post develop an action plan to improve compliance with the Act. Canada Post did put a multi-year plan in place in February 2011, one key objective of which was to reduce the backlog of pending requests. As of October 2012, Canada Post had reduced its overall backlog from 124 files at the start of the plan to 11. While this effort resulted in a 328-day average completion time for all requests closed in 2011–2012, Canada Post’s average completion time for requests received and completed within only that reporting period was 58 days (marginally higher than the 2009–2010 average of 55 days).

We observed, as a likely result of the backlog reduction, an increase in complaints to our office in 2011–2012. These climbed from 35 in 2009–2010 to 46 in 2011–2012 (see Figure 5), an increase of 31 percent. The majority of these complaints related to the refusal to disclose information. Twenty complaints are associated with requests for information linked to ongoing litigation.

Finally, Canada Post’s delegation order continues to be a source of concern. We have consistently taken the view that an institution’s access to information coordinator should have full delegated authority under the Act. On October 23, 2012, Canada Post’s coordinator was delegated authority for simple administrative matters. Prior to that, the coordinator had no authority to administer any part of the Act. While this is a small step in the right direction, either the general manager or vice-president responsible for compliance is required to approve all substantive decisions taken under the authority of the Act. As a result, the potential for delay remains considerable.

Canada Post has stated that approvals by the executive level of requests that pertain to its proprietary information are necessary, since that is where the expertise and knowledge of the organization is found. Canada Post bases its approach on the premise that its commercial mandate radically differentiates it from other federal government institutions. All release packages continue to be reviewed by the general manager and vice-president responsible for compliance. In our view, this has contributed to delays.

Although Canada Post is relatively well resourced in terms of its ratio of analysts to volume of requests, we remain concerned that responses to requests and to our investigative queries are being delayed at the executive level. This delay puts requesters’ right to timely access to information at risk.

Figure 1: Access to information workload, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012

Access to  information workload, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012
Text Version

Figure 1: Access to information workload, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012
This graphic is a horizontal bar chart that represents the sources of Canada Post's workload. The chart is broken down into three sections, each representing a fiscal year, with 2009–2010 on top, followed by 2010–2011 and 2011–2012 on the bottom. Each section has four bars, representing new access to information requests received, requests carried over from the previous fiscal year, consultation requests received, and the total of the three.

The graph shows that the number of new access requests Canada Post received increased from 78 in 2009–2010 to 127 in 2010–2011 and then decreased to 75 in 2011–2012. Requests carried over decreased from 73 in 2009–2010 to 67 in 2010–2011 and then increased to 110 in 2011–2012. Consultation requests increased from 15 in 2009–2010 to 30 in 2010–2011 and then decreased to 21 in 2010–2011.

The total workload for 2009–2010 was 166 files. The total for 2010–2011 was 224 files. The total for 2011–2012 was 206 files.

This graph shows the sources of Canada Post’s workload. For the sake of observing trends, we have included figures from 2010–2011 as well as the two years we completed a report card on Canada Post. Comparing 2009–2010 to 2011–2012, the institution saw a 24-percent increase in its overall workload, including a 51-percent increase in the number of requests carried over and a 40-percent jump in the number of consultation requests from other institutions. The number of new access requests remained relatively constant (78 in 2009–2010 and 75 in 2011–2012) with a spike to 127 in 2010–2011. The number of pages reviewed for completed requests increased almost 200 percent from 2009–2010 to 2011–2012, due to certain complex and voluminous requests Canada Post received.

Figure 2. How long it took to complete new requests, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012

Time to complete new requests, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012
Text Version

Figure 2: How long it took to complete new requests, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012
These are two side-by-side pie charts that represent how long it took Canada Post to complete new access to information requests, with 2009–2010 on the left and 2011–2012 on the right. Each pie has three sections. Clockwise from the top right, the first section represents the number of requests Canada Post completed within 30 days, the second section the number of requests it completed in more than 30 days when it took an extension, and the third the number of requests it completed late (after 30 days) when it did not take an extension. This third section is then broken down to show the percentage of requests that were completed between 1 and 30 days late, between 31 and 60 days late, between 61 and 90 days late and more than 90 days late.

The 2009–2010 pie chart (on the left) shows 55 percent of the pie allocated to requests completed within 30 days (21 requests), 0 percent to requests completed in more than 30 days with an extension (0 requests) and 45 percent to requests completed in more than 30 days with no extension (17 requests). This last section is then broken down to show that 35 percent of these requests were completed 1–30 days late, 24 percent 31–60 days late, 18 percent 61–90 days late and 24 percent more than 90 days late.

The 2011–2012 pie chart (on the right) shows 41 percent of the pie allocated to requests completed within 30 days (24 requests), 45 percent to requests completed in more than 30 days with an extension (26 requests) and 14 percent to requests completed in more than 30 days with no extension (8 requests). This last section is then broken down to show that 50 percent of these requests were completed 1–30 days late, 25 percent 31–60 days late, 0 percent 61–90 days late and 25 percent more than 90 days late.

Between 2009–2010 and 2011–2012, the proportion of new access requests Canada Post completed within the timelines (30 days and extended) set out in the Access to Information Act rose from 55 percent to 86 percent. The remaining requests were completed late: 8 requests (14 percent) in 2011–2012 compared to 17 (45 percent) in 2009–2010.

Figure 3: Number and length of time extensions taken, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012

Number and length    of time extensions taken, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012
Text Version

Figure 3: Number and length of time extensions taken, 2009–2010 and 2011–2012
This graphic is of two horizontal bar charts, one on top of the other, that represent the number and the length of time extensions taken by Canada Post. The graph on top represents data from 2009–2010 while the bottom graph represents data from 2011–2012. Along the y-axis there are five categories. These categories are 31–90 days, 91–120 days, 121–150 days, more than 180 days and unspecified. Along the x-axis is the number of time extensions taken.

Canada Post reported taking 3 extensions for 31–90 days in 2009–2010 and 15 in 2011–2012. In 2009–2010, it took 0 extensions for 91–120 days but 3 in 2011–2012. In 2009–2010, it took 0 extensions for 121–150 days and 0 in 2011–2012. In 2009–2010, it took 0 extensions for 151–180 days but 1 in 2011–2012. In 2009–2010, it took 0 extensions for more than 180 days but 0 in 2010–2011. In 2009–2010, it took 0 extensions for an unspecified time but 1 in 2011–2012.

This graph shows the number and length of the time extensions Canada Post reported to have taken in 2009–2010 and 2011–2012. The institution supplied this information in the notices it sent to the OIC under subsection 9(2) of the Access to Information Act. Canada Post submitted 30 percent of the required notices in 2009–2010, at which point the OIC issued a recommendation that the institution improve its performance in this area. In 2011–2012, Canada Post submitted 100 percent of the required extension notices. We note the increase in Canada Post’s use of extensions, and will be monitoring it.

Figure 4: Number and outcome of delay-related complaints, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012

Figure 4: Number and outcome of delay-related  complaints, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012
Text Version

Figure 4: Number and outcome of delay-related complaints, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012
This graphic displays two horizontal bar charts, one on top of the other. The top chart represents deemed refusal complaints against Canada Post. The bottom chart represents time extension complaints. Each chart is separated into thirds, representing fiscal years 2009–2010, 2010–2011 and 2011–2012. In each third, there are fours bars representing whether the complaint was resolved, not substantiated, discontinued or pending.

The deemed refusal complaints graph (on the top) shows 13 deemed refusal complaints resolved in 2000–2010, 0 not substantiated, 2 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 15 complaints. In 2010–2011, there were 22 deemed refusal complaints resolved, 0 not substantiated, 2 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 24 complaints. In 2011–2012, there were 9 deemed refusal complaints resolved, 1 not substantiated, 0 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 10 complaints.

The time extension complaints graph (on the bottom) shows 0 time extension complaints resolved in 2009–2010, 0 not substantiated, 0 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 0 complaints. In 2010–2011, there were 7 time extension complaints resolved, 0 not substantiated, 1 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 8 complaints. In 2011–2012, there were 0 time extension complaints resolved, 1 not substantiated, 1 discontinued and 0 pending, for a total of 2 complaints.

These graphs show the number and outcome of two types of complaint registered against Canada Post in the three fiscal years starting in 2009–2010: complaints about deemed refusals (access to information requests that Canada Post delayed beyond the deadlines—30 days and extended—set out in the Access to Information Act) and complaints about Canada Post's use of the time extensions allowed under the Act. Overall, the number of deemed refusal complaints has decreased since 2009–2010, although there was a large increase in 2010–2011 (subsequently reversed). There were no time extension complaints against Canada Post in 2009–2010. The number of time extension complaints dropped from 2010–2011 to 2011–2012.

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

Figure 5: Number and outcome of complaints received by the OIC, 2009–2010 to 2011–2012

Resolved* Not substantiated Discontinued Pending Total
2009–2010          
Administrative 14 0 2 0 16
Refusals 3 3 9** 4 19
Total 17 3 11 4 35
2010–2011          
Administrative 30 0 3 0 33
Refusals 2 1 1 4 8
Total 32 1 4 4 41
2011–2012          
Administrative 10 2 1 0 13
Refusals 0 0 1** 32 33
Total 10 2 2 32 46

This table sets out the number and outcome of the complaints the Office of the Information Commissioner registered against Canada Post in the three fiscal years starting in 2009–2010. The OIC registered an increasing number of complaints against Canada Post in each year. In 2011–2012, the majority of the complaints pertained to the exemptions applied to the requested records.

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

**The OIC began using new disposition categories in 2010–2011. Since then, there have been two complaints (one registered in 2009–2010 and one in 2011–2012) closed in the new Settled category, meaning that the complaint was settled to the satisfaction of the complainant and the institution, without the need for the OIC to make a finding. For reporting purposes here, and to ensure consistency with previous reports, these complaints were placed in the Discontinued category.

Follow-up on the 2009–2010 recommendations

The OIC issued five recommendations to Canada Post in the 2009–2010 report card. The following summarizes the institution’s response (full text of the recommendations and response).

  1. The OIC recommended that the President and CEO of Canada Post demonstrate leadership to establish access to information and its legislative obligations as a priority.

    In response, Canada Post reported that the expectation of compliance with legislation is communicated by the President and CEO and that the executive cadre includes access to information issues on its weekly meeting agenda to achieve better compliance. Access to information staff also try to play an advocacy role among their colleagues in the business sectors. However, Canada Post reported that the administration of the Act is a complex and challenging task, given the size and nature of the corporation and the competitive business context in which it operates.

  1. Canada Post responded to the OIC’s recommendation to develop an action plan for improvement with a multi-year plan featuring three key elements: improving performance, streamlining processes and re-engaging people.

    Although not entirely successful, the plan has allowed Canada Post to make strides towards more effective compliance with the Act. The backlog is down to a manageable number of 11 requests from 124 at the plan’s launch in February 2011. Canada Post hopes to clear the remaining 11 requests by the end of the 2012 calendar year.

    Canada Post also asked its own corporate auditors to report on the progress made against the plan. In December 2011, the auditors reported that the first two of the OIC’s recommendations had been addressed and that progress was being made on the remaining three. 

  2. On October 23, 2012, Canada Post revised its delegation instrument. However, the new delegation order does not give full delegation to the coordinator. In fact, the new order requires the approval of either the general manager or vice-president responsible for compliance for all but straightforward administrative tasks. 
  3. With a 100-percent compliance rate in 2011–2012, Canada Post successfully met the OIC’s recommendation to submit all its notices of extensions taken for more than 30 days.

  4. Canada Post was unable to reduce its overall deemed refusal rate, including backlogged requests, to an adequate level. The deemed refusal rate for 2011–2012 was 44.9 percent. This does represent an improvement from the 73.5-percent level in 2009–2010; however, the rate remains unacceptably high.

2011–2012 recommendations

The OIC is reissuing the recommendations from 2009–2010 for which Canada Post did not meet the Commissioner’s expectations. We are also issuing three new recommendations, on the topics of performance agreements, extensions and reporting. While we acknowledge that senior management has taken steps towards improved compliance, the results of this report card demonstrate that there is a need for greater leadership at Canada Post with regard to access to information.

  1. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the President and CEO of the Canada Post Corporation demonstrate further leadership in establishing access to information as an institutional priority and creating an environment of accountability and transparency.

    Response
    Canada Post’s CEO and his senior executive team will continue their commitment to Canada Post meeting its obligations under the Access to Information Act. This leadership has been demonstrated through the significant progress made by the Corporation since receiving the Red Alert rating in 2011.  For example:

  • The creation and execution of a successful multi-year Action Plan to address the Commissioner’s 2011 recommendations.
  • The ATI Release Notification Team was created and is comprised of key executive and working level members including the ATI Coordinator. The team meets on a bi-weekly basis to ensure the timely release of ATI requests by promptly addressing and resolving any ATI issues as well as to be briefed on new ATI requests and upcoming releases.
  • 85% of requests received in 2011–2012 were on-time.
  • A reduction in the deemed refusal rate from 73.5% in 2009-2010 to 44.9% in 2011–2012. The deemed refusal rate for requests received in 2011–2012 was 17%.
  • The deemed refusal rate for requests received in 2012–2013 is currently 0%.
  • The backlog of requests has been reduced by 91%.
  • The number of pages processed in 2011­–2012 has increased by almost 200% as compared to 2009-2010.
  • The OIC was notified of 100% of extensions taken in 2011–2012 as compared to 30% in 2009–2010.
  1. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the President and CEO of the Canada Post Corporation revise the delegation order to provide full delegation to the access to information coordinator.

    Response
    The Corporation is committed to reviewing the delegation order with a view to enhancing efficiency, while maintaining the level of oversight that is necessary to manage the risks associated with Canada Post’s competitive position.

  2. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that compliance with the Access to Information Act be included in the performance agreements of the Canada Post Corporation’s executives and senior managers.

    Response
    Canada Post is pleased to report that compliance with the Access to Information Act is already part of performance agreements currently in place with the accountable executives and senior managers.

  3. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Canada Post Corporation reduce the number of time extensions it takes under the Act and document the reasons for any extensions claimed.

    Response
    Canada Post has already taken action to reduce the number of extensions taken in 2012–2013. In 2011–2012 Canada Post took extensions over 30 days on 27% of requests. To date in 2012–2013 this has decreased to 12%.  We will continue this focus for the remainder of the year and going forward.

  4. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Canada Post Corporation continue to reduce its deemed refusal rate to zero.

    Response
    The deemed refusal rate for requests received in 2012–2013 is currently at 0%. This represents a reduction of 73.5% since 2009–2010.

  5. The Office of the Information Commissioner recommends that the Canada Post Corporation report on its progress implementing these recommendations in its annual report to Parliament on access to information operations.

    Response
    Canada Post reported progress against its Action Plan in the 2011–2012 Annual Report and will continue to do so in 2012–2013.