Final report (5819-01440): Royal Canadian Mounted Police

OIC file number: 5819-01440
Institution
: Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Institution file number: A-2017-03970
Date: February 18, 2020

Summary

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) had not responded to a request for information under the Access to Information Act more than two years after receiving it and is deemed to have refused to give access. During the investigation, the RCMP provided very little information about the records or the processing of the access request, to help determine a response date. Without these details and because the RCMP had still not responded to the access request, the Commissioner orders the RCMP to respond to the access request within 10 business days from the day the order takes effect.* The complaint is well-founded.

* The RCMP responded to the request on March 2, 2020, before the coming into effect of the order.

Complaint

The complainant alleged that the RCMP did not respond to an access request within the time limits set out in the Act.

Investigation

On April 11, 2017, the complainant submitted an access request to the RCMP. From April 12, 2017, to May 2, 2017, and from May 5, 2017, to May 15, 2017, the RCMP put the request on hold for clarification. The statutory due date for a timely response was therefore June 12, 2017. Following a complaint received by my office on September 23, 2019, a notice of new complaint was sent to the RCMP as well as a request for information relating to the processing of the access request.

In response, the RCMP provided a copy of the status report for the access request. This report indicated that the RCMP’s Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) office had retrieved all of the responsive records by July 17, 2017. These records consist of a total 3,521 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 request by June 12, 2017, 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.

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

The RCMP responded that the file was assigned to an analyst for review on November 22, 2019. The RCMP also noted that it was committed to responding to access requests under the Act and referred to the high volume of requests and significant resource pressures that it is currency facing. 

The RCMP provided no other information relating to circumstances and reasons leading up to its failure to meet the statutory due date for response, nor did it indicate whether processing the records would be difficult or complex or whether consultations with other parties would be required.

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 reference to its high volume of records and resource pressures is of little assistance in establishing a date by which it should reasonably respond to the request. Although there are 3,521 pages of responsive records, the investigation shows that these records have been in the possession of the RCMP’s ATIP office since July 2017. The RCMP provided no other information about the records or the processing of the access request that would help determine whether an extended period to respond to the access request would be required.

Results

  • The RCMP is deemed to have refused access to the requested information, as per subsection 10(3).
  • The complaint is well-founded.
  • On February 5, 2020, I provided to the RCMP my Initial Report setting out my finding and my intention to order the RCMP to respond to the access request.
  • The RCMP did not, within the period provided to do so, notify me as to whether it would implement the order.

Order

Pursuant to subsection 36.1(1) of the Act, I order the RCMP to:

  • Provide a final response to the request for information submitted on

April 11, 2017, within 10 business days from the day this order takes effect pursuant to subsection 36.1(4)(a)1Footnote 1 of the Act; and

  • Send a copy of the response letter to the Office of the Information

Commissioner’s Registrar by email (Greffe-Registry@oic-ci.gc.ca).

Section 41 of the Act provides a right to any person who receives this report to apply to the Federal Court of Canada for a review. Complainants and institutions must apply for this review within 35 business days after the date of this report. A person who applies for a review must serve a copy of the application for review to the relevant parties, as per section 43.

When no one applies for a review by these deadlines, this order will take effect in accordance with subsection 36.1(4).

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

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