2020-2021 Quarterly Financial Report - ended December 31, 2020

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 Information Commissioner is the first level of independent review of government decisions relating to requests for access to information under the control of government institutions. The Access to Information Act (ATIA) requires the Commissioner to investigate all the complaints she receives. (With the June 2019 amendments to the Act, the Commissioner may now decline or cease to investigate complaints she considers to be trivial, frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or otherwise an abuse of the right of access.) The second level of independent review is the Federal Court.

Further information on the OIC’s mandate, responsibilities and program activities can be found in the OIC’s 2020-2021 Departmental Plan.

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 2020-21 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 third quarter, the Statement of Authorities below shows that the OIC spent 57.4% of its available authorities for the current fiscal year 2020-2021. This statement also indicates an increase in the Total Authorities of $223,000 or 1.4% when compared to the same period in 2019-2020. The net increase is mainly due to an increase in permanent funding for investigations under the OIC’s core responsibility, funds re-profiled from 2019-2020 and the end of temporary funding for complaint inventory reduction.

As Table 1 indicates, the OIC’s total budgetary expenditures as of December 31, 2020, increased by an amount of $290,000 or 3.1% when compared to the expenditures reported for the same period in 2019-2020. It is explained by an increase in personnel expenditures to increase its internal capacity to conduct investigations and to provide the necessary support. It’s offset by a decrease in professional services following the termination of the majority of the temporary help services contracts due to the pandemic and due to internal resources efficiency gains. Furthermore, there is an increase in acquisition of machinery and equipment related to the purchase of a server.

3. Risks and Uncertainties

The COVID-19, declared a pandemic in March 2020, impacted the OIC’s investigations. As the OIC moved to all-electronic investigations in 2019–2020 and due to extraordinary work by the OIC’s information technology team, all employees were, in a matter of days, able to work from home, with access to the OIC network. Corporate functions proceeded as normal for the most part, facilitated by the prompt implementation of electronic delivery of documents and electronic signatures. In the first quarter, the OIC began planning for selective access to the otherwise closed office for critical services and for new tools to facilitate remote work. Although corporate functions were not significantly impacted by the pandemic and with investigators able to continue their activities, investigations were hindered by the shutdown of access operations in many institutions.

In recent years, the OIC has made notable gains in efficiency which it will continue to pursue in 2020-21. However, operating with temporary funding year after year has led to broken continuity and stalled momentum, ultimately preventing adequate service to Canadians and resulting in a growing inventory. Thus, the office has requested funds through Budget 2020 to permanently augment its investigative capacity for inventory reduction, which were granted through the Supplementary Estimates B. The resulting stability will lead to efficiency and better position the OIC to respond effectively should the elevated volume of complaints continues and to the ongoing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic.

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. In increasing its investigative capacity, the OIC risks further draining the already small pool of access specialists available across federal institutions. To mitigate this risk, the OIC has expanded the pool of potential employees (in terms of their experience and educational background) from which it draws. At the same time, in the face of high staff turnover, turnover attributable to this high demand and the resulting intense competition between institutions to attract talent, the OIC enrolls new staff in its development program, and provides other internal opportunities for professional growth and advancement, with the goal of increasing retention.

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

4. Significant changes in Operations, Personnel and Program

There were no significant changes in operations, personnel or program in the third quarter of 2020-2021.

Approved by:

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

France Labine, M.P.A., CPA
Chief Financial Officer


Gatineau, Canada
December 31, 2020

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)

(In thousands of dollars) Fiscal year 2020-2021 Fiscal year 2019-2020
Total available for use for the year ending
March 31, 2021 Footnote *
Used during the quarter ended
December 31, 2020
Year to date used at quarter end Total available for use for the year ending
March 31, 2020
Used during the quarter ended
December 31, 2019
Year to date used at quarter end
Program expenditures 14,879 3,125 8,550 14,706 2,910 8,388
Budgetary statutory authority - Employee benefit plan 1,868 357 1,070 1,818 314 942
TOTAL AUTHORITIES 16,747 3,482 9,620 16,524 3,224 9,330

Table 1: Departmental budgetary expenditures by Standard Object (unaudited)

(In thousands of dollars) Fiscal year 2020-2021 Fiscal year 2019-2020
Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2021 Footnote * Expended during the quarter ended December 31, 2020 Year to date used at quarter end Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2020 Expended during the quarter ended December 31, 2019 Year to date used at quarter end
Personnel 14,489 2,960 8,162 12,729 2,198 6,863
Transportation and communications 131 47 116 129 43 136
Information 97 68 74 96 6 31
Professional and special services 1,086 279 652 2,575 711 1,649
Rentals 350 115 317 405 114 367
Repair and maintenance 22 2 5 22 - 8
Utilities, materials and supplies 54 7 22 55 10 30
Acquisition of land, buildings and works 215 - - 321 88 129
Acquisition of machinery and equipment 300 24 273 191 57 119
Other subsidies and payments 3 (20) (1) 1 (3) (2)
TOTAL BUDGETARY EXPENDITURES 16,747 3,482 9,620 16,524 3,224 9,330
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