Public Services and Procurement Canada (Re), 2022 OIC 47
OIC file numbers: 5820-01451 and 5820-01452
Institution file numbers: A-2019-00259 and A-2019-00503
The complainant alleged that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) missed the deadline for responding to two access requests under the Access to Information Act. The requests were for records related to the Prison Farm program run by CORCAN at Collins Bay and Joyceville institutions.
The complaints are well founded.
The Information Commissioner ordered the Minister of PSPC to provide a final response to both access requests forthwith.
PSPC gave notice that it would contribute its best efforts to complete both requests prior to March 31, 2022.
 The complainant alleged that Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) missed the deadline for responding to two access requests under the Access to Information Act.
 Both complaints have been grouped given they relate to similar subject‐matter.
 On July 15, 2019, PSPC received a request for all records relating to the procurement of any animals for the Prison Farm Program run by CORCAN at Collins Bay / Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ontario for the period January 2019 – to July 2019. Based on the date of receipt of the access request, the statutory 30‐day deadline to respond was August 14, 2019.
 On August 12, 2019, pursuant to paragraphs 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c) of the Act, PSPC claimed an extension of 150 days beyond the statutory 30‐day limit allowed for the processing of the request, and advised the complainant accordingly. This extended the statutory due date for a response to January 13, 2020.
 On January 15, 2020, PSPC received a request for all records relating to the procurement of farm animals for the Prison Farm Program run by CORCAN at Collins, for a specified period. Based on the date of receipt of the request, the statutory 30‐day deadline to respond was February 14, 2020.
 On February 12, 2020, PSPC notified the complainant that, pursuant to paragraph 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c) of the Act, it would require an additional 210 days beyond the original 30 days to complete the processing of the request. The extended due date was September 11, 2020.
Subsection 10(3): deemed refusal of access
 Under subsection 10(3), when institutions do not respond to an access request within either 30 days or at the end of a period for which they took a valid time extension, they are deemed to have refused access to the requested records.
 Given that PSPC has failed to respond to both requests by the extended due dates, PSPC is in deemed refusal pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act. This refusal of access is ongoing.
 According to PSPC, there are at least 4,000 pages of records responsive for both requests. PSPC has confirmed that the Access to Information and Privacy unit lacks adequate resources to process the volume of access requests it has received and has also confirmed that restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted operations.
 During the investigation, PSPC officials committed to providing a final response to both requests by July 30, 2021; however, this deadline was missed.
 On August 16, 2021, PSPC committed to responding no later than March 31, 2022.
 PSPC has not adequately addressed the unreasonable delay in advancing the processing of the records in response to both requests. Such requests should not have taken longer than a few months to process. The complainant has now been waiting over two years for a response. This lack of responsiveness is in clear contravention to PSPC’s obligations under the Act and undermines the credibility of the access system.
 The complaints are well founded.
Pursuant to subsection 36.1(1) of the Access to Information Act, I order the Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada to:
- Provide a final response to both access requests forthwith.
- Email a copy of the response letters to the Office of the Information Commissioner’s Registry (firstname.lastname@example.org).
On November 24, 2021, I provided the Minister of Public Services and Procurement my initial report setting out my findings and my intended order.
The Minister of Public Services and Procurement responded on January 7, 2022, stating that PSPC is contributing its best efforts to complete both requests prior to March 31, 2022.
Section 41 of the Act provides a right to any person who receives this report to apply to the Federal Court for a review. Complainants and institutions must apply for this review within 35 business days after the date of this report. The person who applies for a review must serve a copy of the application for review to the relevant parties, as per section 43. If no one applies for a review by this deadline, this order will take effect in accordance with subsection 36.1(4).