2020-2021 Quarterly Financial Report - ended June 30, 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 first quarter, the Statement of Authorities below shows that the OIC spent 26.1%  of its available authorities for the current fiscal year 2020-2021. This statement also indicates a decrease of $4,548,000 in the authorities available for use which is mainly due to the reduced supply of the Main Estimates. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and limited sessions in the spring for Parliament to study supply, the Standing Orders of the House of Commons were amended to extend the study period into the Fall. The OIC is expected to receive full supply for the 2020-21 Main Estimates in December 2020.

As Table 1 indicates, the OIC’s total budgetary expenditures as of June 30, 2020, decreased by an amount of $310,000 or 10.8% when compared to the expenditures reported for the same period in 2019-2020. It is mainly explained by a significant 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 was a decrease in equipment purchases due to the replacement of informatics equipment in 2019-2020.

3. Risks and Uncertainties

The COVID-19, declared a pandemic in March 2020, impacted the OIC’s investigations in the first quarter. 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. The resulting stability will lead to efficiency and better position the OIC to respond effectively should the elevated volume of complaints continue, amidst the ongoing uncertainty brought about by the pandemic. If not granted, the inventory would grow substantially in light of the elevated incoming complaint volume. This would put the integrity of the OIC’s program at significant risk, in the form of substantial delays in investigating complaints and slower response times.

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 or program in the first quarter of 2020-2021.

Approved by:

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

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


Gatineau, Canada
June 30, 2020

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)

Statement of Authorities (unaudited)
    Fiscal year 2020–2021      Fiscal year 2019–2020  

(In thousands of dollars)

Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2021 * Used during the quarter ended June 30, 2020   Year to date used at quarter end Total available for use for the year ending March 31, 2020 * Used during the quarter ended June 30, 2019 Year to date used at quarter end

Program expenditures

8,731 2,198 2,198 12,783 2,551 2,551

Budgetary statutory authority – Employee benefit plans

1,070 357 357 1,566 314 314

Total Authorities

9,801 2,555 2,555 14,349 2,865 2,865

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

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

Table 1: Departmental Budgetary Expenditures by Standard Object (unaudited)
    Fiscal year 2020–2021     Fiscal year 2019–2020  

(In thousands of dollars)

Planned expenditures for the year ending March 31, 2021*

Expended during the quarter ended June 30, 2020

Year to date used at quarter end

Planned expenditures for the year ending  March 31, 2020

Expended during the quarter ended June 30, 2019

Year to date used at quarter end



8,300 2,311 2,311 10,925 2,332 2,332

Transportation and communications

98 37 37 129 36 36


72 2 2 96 3 3

Professional and special services

795 116 116 2,573 350 350


263 81 81 404 57 57

Repair and maintenance

17 1 1 22 2 2

Utilities, materials and supplies

41 1 1 55 6 6

Acquisition of land, buildings and works

101 - - - - -

Acquisition of machinery and equipment

112 5 5 144 79 79

Other subsidies and payments

2 1 1 1 - -

Total Budgetary Expenditures

9,801 2,555                 2,555 14,349 2,865 2,865

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

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