Common problems jeopardize timeliness

Complaint: Several institutions, including Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Environment Canada, did not meet their deadlines for responding to requests from the Parliamentary Budget Officer about the possible impact Budget measures might have on service levels.

Investigation: The OIC learned that the institutions’ treatment of the requests featured several common problems that result in delays: files not advancing in the access office, unnecessarily long time extensions being taken for consultations on a small number of pages, and multiple consultations being carried out consecutively rather than concurrently.

Outcome: The Information Commissioner asked the three institutions for work plans and commitment dates for responding to the requester in order to avoid further unreasonable delays.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Timeliness is fundamental to the right of access. Receiving a response in a timely manner ensures information is still relevant and that the government can be held to account for its decisions at appropriate times.
  • In this case, delays in processing files at each institution, and stretching out the response time by taking long extensions and improperly carrying out consultations resulted in an 18-month delay in the response.
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