Final report (5819-00733): Royal Canadian Mounted Police

OIC file number: 5819-00733
Institution: Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Institution file number: A-2018-05457
Date: January 14, 2020

Summary

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is deemed to have refused to give access to records requested under the Access to Information Act1Footnote 1 (Act). The RCMP was asked, and failed to provide adequate representations. Since the breach of the Act was ongoing, an initial report with intended order was issued. Following the receipt of the initial report, the RCMP responded to the access request rendering any prospective order pointless. The complaint is well-founded.

Complaint

The complainant alleged that the RCMP did not respond to a request for information within the time limits set out in the Act.

Investigation

On July 3, 2018, a requester submitted an access to information request to the RCMP; the statutory due date for a timely response was August 2, 2018. Following a complaint made to my office on August 15, 2019, a notice of new complaint was sent to the RCMP as well as a request for information relating to the processing of the request.

In response, the RCMP provided a copy of the status report for the access to information request. This report indicated that the RCMP’s Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office had retrieved all of the responsive records by July 16, 2018. These records consist of a total 406 pages. However, the RCMP had yet to complete a review of those records. No rationale was provided for the delay nor did the RCMP provide a disclosure date. 

As the RCMP failed to respond to the access to information request by August 2, 2018, and did not take an extension of time within which it would provide a response, the RCMP is deemed to have refused access to information pursuant to subsection 10(3) of the Act.

Results

The complaint is well-founded.

Given the RCMP’s ongoing deemed refusal of access, on November 5, 2019, the RCMP was asked a second time to propose a reasonable date by which it would respond to the request. To assess the timeframe within which the RCMP should reasonably be able to respond to the access to information request, the RCMP was also asked to provide additional information, including:

  • Information related to the circumstances and reasons leading up to the institution’s failure to meet the statutory due date to respond;
  • Information about the responsive records:
    • Whether additional pages were expected to be found and, if so, when they were expected to be provided to the ATIP office;
    • Whether the records were electronic, paper, old, complex, sensitive, etc.;
    • The status of the RCMP’s review (i.e., percentage of review complete, anticipated completion date);
  • Information regarding any consultations, if applicable.

On November 21, 2019, the RCMP responded by stating that the file was to be assigned to an analyst but failed to provide the other information sought. Instead, the RCMP stated that it is committed to responding to requests under the Act and continues to work diligently. It also referred to the high volume of requests and significant resource pressures currently faced by the RCMP.

The RCMP also did not propose a disclosure date nor did it indicate whether a response had been issued to the requester.

The RCMP’s inability to respond within the time limits set out in the Act, whether or not it is due to a high number of requests relative to the resources available to respond, is of little assistance in establishing a date by which it should reasonably respond to the request.

The responsive records do not involve a large volume of pages. These records have been in the possession of the RCMP’s ATIP office since July 2018. The RCMP did not establish that the processing of these records would be atypical or otherwise complex.

As a result, on December 23, 2019, an initial report was sent to the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as required by subsection 37(1) of the Act, setting out the following intended order:

  1. Provide a final response to the request for information submitted on July 3, 2018, within 10 business days from the day this order takes effect pursuant to subsection 36.1(4)(a)2Footnote 2 of the Act; and
  2. Send a copy of the response letter to the Office of the Information Commissioner’s Registrar by email (Greffe-Registry@oic-ci.gc.ca).

The Minister was also requested to provide his notice of action taken or proposed to be taken to implement the intended order by January 8, 2020.

Instead, on January 2, 2020, the RCMP responded that it had processed the file and that a response to the request had been provided to the complainant.

Order

Considering that a final response to the request for information was provided, the intended order became pointless and will not be issued.

See the attachment for the right to apply for a review to the Federal Court under section 41 of the Act.

[Original signed by Information Commissioner Caroline Maynard]

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

Footnotes

Footnote 1

1 R.S.C,. 1985, C. A-1Return to footnote referrer 1

Footnote 2

2 Subsection 36.1(4)(a) provides that the order takes effect on “the 31st business day after the day on which the head of the government institution receives a report under subsection 37(2), if only the complainant and the head of the institution are provided with the report”.Return to footnote referrer 2

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