2019-2020 Quarterly Financial Report - ended September 30, 2019

Statement outlining results, risks and significant changes in operations, personnel and program

1. Introduction

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC) has prepared this quarterly report under section 65.1 of the Financial Administration Act and in the form and manner prescribed by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. This report should be read in conjunction with the Main Estimates. It has not been subject to an external audit or review.

The OIC conducts efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. The goal of these investigations is to maximize compliance with the Access to Information Act (ATIA) while fostering disclosure of public sector information. The Commissioner uses the full range of tools, activities and powers at her disposal, from mediation to persuasion and litigation, as required.

The OIC also supports the Commissioner in her advisory role to Parliament and parliamentary committees on all access to information matters. In delivering its mandate, the OIC promotes information rights and advocates a culture of openness to ensure government transparency, accountability and citizen engagement.

Further information on the OIC’s mandate, responsibilities and program activities can be found in the OIC’s Departmental Plan 2019-20.

1.1 Basis of Presentation

This quarterly report was prepared on an expenditure basis. The accompanying Statement of Authorities includes the OIC's spending authorities granted by Parliament and those used by the OIC, consistent with the 2019-20 Estimates. The authority of Parliament is required before money can be spent by federal organizations. Organizations receive annually approved expenditure limits through appropriation acts or through legislation in the form of statutory spending authority for specific purposes. In light of this, this report was prepared using a special purpose financial reporting framework designed to meet financial information needs related to the use of spending authorities.

The OIC uses the full accrual method of accounting to prepare and present the annual financial statements that are part of the departmental performance reporting process. However, the spending authorities voted by Parliament remain on an expenditure basis.

2. Highlights of Fiscal Quarter and Year-to-Date Results

At the second quarter, the Statement of Authorities below shows that the OIC spent 41.1% of its authorities for the current fiscal year 2019-2020. This statement also indicates an increase in the Total Authorities of $132,000 or 0.9% when compared to the same period in 2018-2019. The net increase is mainly due to:       

  • a decrease in temporary funding for complaint inventory reduction provided by Budget 2019; and
  • an increase to the employee benefit plans.

As Table 1 indicates, the OIC’s total budgetary expenditures as of September 30, 2019 increased by an amount of $302,000 or 5.2% when compared to the expenditures reported for the same period in 2018-2019. It is mainly attributable to an increase in personnel expenditures that pertains to higher salary and wages resulting from recent years’ new collective agreements and salary revisions, as well as the restructuring of the Office to support operational objectives.

3. Risks and Uncertainties

Building on solid results in 2018–19, the OIC will continue improving its approach to managing investigations and further lowering turnaround times for closing files, in order to reduce the size of the inventory of complaints.

Although the Information Commissioner has reallocated and reorganized resources, outsourced services, and implemented continuous business process improvements, the OIC requires supplementary funding to avoid further increases in its inventory of complaints and to investigate the complaints it receives in a timely manner. The financial instability the office operates under, going from year to year having to prepare requests for temporary funds to obtain only the necessary staff to keep up with demand, makes it impossible to plan over the long term and maintain momentum. This stopgap approach also results in higher costs to taxpayers and increases the risk that the office will not be able to deliver its planned results.

Bill C-58 received Royal Assent late June 2019. The legislative changes to the ATIA could have an impact on the number of complaints received by the OIC and the operating environment in which it conducts its investigations. The Commissioner and her team will spare no effort to avoid developing a backlog under the post‑C-58 system, but there is no sign that the incoming complaint volume is going to lessen anytime soon.  

The OIC has identified human resources as a perpetual risk. The ongoing and troublesome question of resources limits how much can be achieved, despite best efforts. As an Agent of Parliament with 109 full time equivalents (FTE), the risk of having an insufficient number of employees with the breadth and depth of experience necessary to complete activities or address competing priorities is constant. Furthermore, the loss of qualified employees to larger organizations with more opportunities for advancement could have an impact on the OIC’s ability to deliver its mandate. The OIC will continue to foster an exceptional workplace in order to further increase employee morale and engagement. The OIC is committed to building a healthy and respectful workplace, with a focus on the mental health, safety and well-being of employees.

The OIC continues to take actions to mitigate the issues arising with the implementation of the new Phoenix pay system for its employees and monitor closely any salary payments adjustments that may be required.

4. Significant changes in Operations, Personnel and Program

There were no significant changes in operations or program in the second quarter of 2019-2020.

Approved by:

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

France Labine, M.P.ACPA
Chief Financial Officer

Gatineau, Canada
September 30, 2019

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)

    Fiscal year 2019–2020     Fiscal year 2018–2019  

(In thousands of dollars)

Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2020 *  Used during the quarter ended September 30, 2019 Year to date used at quarter end Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2019 *  Used during the quarter ended September 30, 2018 Year to date used at quarter end

Program expenditures

 13, 305  2, 927  5, 477  13, 504  2, 903  5, 185

Budgetary statutory authority – Employee benefit plans

 1, 566   314   628  1, 236   309   618

Total Authorities

 14, 871  3, 241  6, 105  14, 740  3, 212  5, 803

* Includes only authorities available for use and granted by Parliament at quarter-end.

Table 1: Departmental Budgetary Expenditures by Standard Object (unaudited)

    Fiscal year 2019–2020     Fiscal year 2018–2019  

(In thousands of dollars)

Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2020*

Expended during the quarter ended September 30, 2019

Year to date used at quarter end

Planned expenditures for the year ending  March 31, 2019

Expended during the quarter ended September 30, 2018

Year to date used at quarter end


11,077 2,333 4,665 9,364 2,339 4,387

Transportation and communications

129 57 93 144 34 50


96 22 25 105 19 40

Professional and special services

2,575 588 938 4,535 675 1,055


404 196 253 425 51 106

Repair and maintenance

22 6 8 21 17 18

Utilities, materials and supplies

55 14 20 57 12 18
Acquisition of land, buildings and works 321 41 41 -   -   -  

Acquisition of machinery and equipment

191 (17) 62 89 65 129

Other subsidies and payments

1 1 0 -   0 0

Total Budgetary Expenditures

14,871 3,241           6,105 14,740 3,212 5,803

* Includes only authorities available for use and granted by Parliament at quarter-end.

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