Length of extensions must reflect number of pages being sent for consultation

Complaint: Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) took a 300-day time extension to consult with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) about requested briefing notes.

Investigation: NRCan sent just seven pages to DFATD for review. In addition, NRCan set the extension at 300 days even though it had not yet contacted DFATD to get an approximate return date. NRCan said it did so because, in its experience, DFATD did not always meet its promised deadlines.

Outcome: The consultations were ultimately completed in 51 days. NRCan responded to the request several months before the extended due date.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Institutions must take into account the number of pages of records responsive to requests and the number being sent for consultation when determining the length of time extensions under paragraph 9(1)(b).
  • In this case, the extension of 300 days was well beyond what was needed to consult DFATD on seven pages of records and to complete the processing of the request.
  • The extension was contrary to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat requirement that extensions be as short as possible. The extension likewise went against institutions’ duty to provide timely access to information, as set out in subsection 4(2.1).
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