Institution receiving request responsible for responding on time

Complaint: Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) responded late to a number of requests from the same requester for records relating to the Food Mail Program.

Investigation: It became apparent that the delays arose from Canada Post’s failure to respond to INAC's consultation requests on time. In addition, while INAC had taken time extensions to accommodate the consultations, it only began some of the consultations after the extension had expired.

Outcome: INAC responded to the requester on commitment dates recommended by the Information Commissioner.

Information Commissioner’s position

  • Institutions that receive requests are responsible for responding to them by the deadline. Not doing so is contrary to the duty to assist.
  • While institutions should communicate with institutions they need to consult about a reasonable deadline and follow up as that date approaches, they should also make it clear that, in the absence of a timely response, they will decide whether to disclose the records.
  • When extending the response time for requests to allow for consultations, institutions should always proceed with those consultations as soon as possible.
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