Strategic Plan 2020–21 to 2024–25

Message from the Commissioner

I am pleased to present the strategic plan for the Office of the Information Commissioner. It sets the direction and priorities for the organization until 2024, building on the progress, accomplishments and challenges of my first two years as Information Commissioner.

The plan comes at a key moment. Unprecedented demand from Canadians for information about government activities and decisions has led to a record volume of complaints. In addition, recent amendments to the Access to Information Act have added to my responsibilities and heightened the expectations of complainants about how I can help them.

At the same time, the business of government has become more complex and the requirements of sound public service management more numerous and more rigorous.

This plan provides a focus—based on valuable input from staff—for internal activities and for relations and collaboration with external stakeholders that will allow the organization to maximize its effectiveness and meet its obligations in these challenging and exciting times.

By making optimal use of the financial resources entrusted to me, investing in and supporting my team, innovating and transforming operations, and maintaining and building credibility, the organization will work toward a clear vision for access to information at the federal level: that federal institutions properly apply the Act and respect the right of access.

The next five years—the period this plan covers—will see Canada mark the 40th anniversary of the Act in 2023 and take me to the end of my term. I am confident that over that time and with this plan my team and I will be able to make the vision a reality—fulfilling the purpose of the Act and enhancing the contribution of the organization to government openness and transparency.

Caroline Maynard
Information Commissioner of Canada

Our vision

“Federal institutions properly apply the Access to Information Act and respect Canadians’ right of access.”

Canada’s freedom of information legislation gives Canadians the right to access information about their government—about the activities it undertakes, the decisions it makes and the money it spends. The Supreme Court of Canada has called the right of access “quasi-constitutional.”

The purpose of the Access to Information Act is to “enhance the accountability and transparency of federal institutions in order to promote an open and democratic society and to enable public debate on the conduct of those institutions” (subsection 2(1)).

The Information Commissioner reviews complaints about how federal organizations apply to Act, so Canadians can receive the information to which they are entitled.

Our mission

“To conduct efficient and fair investigations, be open and transparent when dealing with institutions and complainants, and provide expert advice to Parliament and other stakeholders on access to information.”

The Office of the Information Commissioner’s renewed mission outlines three areas on which to focus our work and make our vision a reality:

Investigations: Access delayed is access denied, so we make every effort to complete our enquiries promptly, while respecting the rules of procedural fairness set out in the Act.

Operations: We strive to be a model of openness and transparency in every aspect of our business, to help institutions and complainants understand what we do and why.

Expertise: We apply our more than 35 years of experience investigating complaints to the broader questions surrounding access to information, to assist Parliament and other stakeholders.

Our values

The core values of the public service—respect for democracy, respect for people, integrity, stewardship and excellence—guide our work and professional conduct.

The following five values further focus our efforts to provide effective and efficient program and service delivery to complainants, and guide our interactions with institutions, Parliament and other stakeholders.

Our values

Respect

  • Respect Canadians’ right of access under the Act
  • Maintain the confidentiality of investigations
  • Deal with all stakeholders respectfully and fairly
  • Ensure a safe, healthy and harassment-free work environment

Collaboration

  • Build and maintain open and effective relationships with all stakeholders
  • Promote teamwork and team spirit throughout the organization
  • Encourage learning and knowledge transfer

Transparency

  • Deliver our mandate in an open and transparent manner
  • Communicate accurately, openly and regularly with all stakeholders
  • Seek opportunities to explain our mandate and program to a variety of audiences

Accountability

  • Establish and maintain clear lines of accountability
  • Deliver on commitments and take ownership of outcomes
  • Carry out work with rigour, basing decisions on evidence and analysis
  • Lead by example when performing statutory functions

Credibility

  • Establish operational priorities and see them through
  • Act professionally, impartially and with integrity at all times
  • Provide clear, consistent and current interpretations of the Act
  • Cultivate our reputation as a trusted source of information on access
  • Innovate in all aspects of program and service delivery

Our strategies

We will pursue three strategies to achieve our vision, deliver our mission and live out our values:

  • Invest in and support our resources
  • Innovate and transform our operations
  • Maintain and enhance our reputation

Invest in and support our resources

Why is this important?

Our work is challenging and labour-intensive, and requires dedicated, professional staff to carry out. Our team of more than 100 investigators, lawyers, communicators, ATIP specialists, and IM/IT, human resources, finance, security and accommodations experts works together to support the Information Commissioner and deliver her mandate under the Access to Information Act.

How will we do it?

  • By attracting and retaining a versatile, innovative, qualified and high-performing workforce

We will provide meaningful training, interesting development opportunities and challenging assignments to attract and retain access and internal services specialists, and individuals whose skills can be adapted to our work.

  • By committing to provide a harassment-free, healthy and safe work environment

We will address all instances of harassment and violence in the workplace promptly and effectively, following a zero-tolerance policy. We will help employees achieve work-life balance and actively promote health and wellness, so employees can be at their best both at work and at home.

  • By managing all resources responsibly

We will increase the rigour of our governance, policy, human resources, financial management and audit activities so we can be a sound steward of all our human and financial resources.

How will we know we have succeeded?

Our workforce is stable, with limited turnover.

Our results on annual employee surveys reflect a healthy working environment.

We meet all our corporate commitments and maximize the impact of our resources.

Innovate and transform our operations

Why is this important?

The revolution in technology, the unrelenting interest of Canadians in holding government to account and the reality of the 24-hour news cycle mean we cannot be complacent about how we do our work. Being innovative and transforming our operations—through the creative use of technology, smart and efficient processes, and targeted expertise—will position us to be more agile and responsive in the face of challenges, serve complainants better and help us meet our corporate obligations.

How we will do it?

  • By working collaboratively with all stakeholders

We will work in concert with others, internally and externally, to solve problems and deliver services, provide timely, accurate and helpful guidance to institutions and complainants, and communicate openly and regularly about our priorities, challenges and successes.

  • By leveraging expertise, innovative tools and streamlined processes to ensure continuous improvement

We will put modern, automated processes and tools in place to enhance efficiency, effectiveness and consistency in all areas of our business.

  • By building a proactive change management culture

We will implement and promote a change management methodology, including planning, consulting and communicating about organizational change, and other changes, to all stakeholders.

How will we know we have succeeded?

We have established channels in place for communicating and collaborating effectively among staff and with all external stakeholders, including for providing guidance on all aspects of our business.

We have paperless operations, including investigations, and largely automated processes.

We actively plan, consult and communicate about change that will affect staff, complainants and institutions.

Maintain and enhance our credibility

Why is this important?

Our credibility depends on our putting our words into action and being an example for institutions through the timeliness and quality of our work. Stakeholders—ranging from ordinary citizens to access to information specialists to parliamentarians—look to us for well-researched facts and opinions on access and transparency.

How will we do it?

  • By significantly reducing the inventory of complaints and reducing turnaround times for investigations

We will secure sufficient investigative resources and expertise to respond effectively to our workload, and put optimal investigation processes and teams in place.

  • By achieving coherent and consistent outcomes through impartial and rigorous investigations and professional service delivery

We will set and maintain standards of excellence and rigour in all areas of our business. We will establish consistent and realistic deadlines and service standards, and communicate those to all stakeholders.

  • By maintaining our reputation as an expert on access to information

We will provide expert advice and authoritative information to Parliament, Central Agencies and other stakeholders on access to information, on interpreting and applying the Act, and on legislative reform. We will seek out and create opportunities to share best practices with and learn from stakeholders.

How will we know we have succeeded?

Our investigations function is funded permanently and in line with our ongoing workload.

We close more complaints than we receive each year with median turnaround times that are as short as possible.

We consistently apply the Act through high-quality investigations.

We contribute to government and Parliamentary reviews of the Act, and regularly share best practices with institutions and other stakeholders.

An integrated approach to planning

To ensure this plan is an effective tool for planning, priority setting and accountability, it will serve as the foundation for our new human resources plan and performance indicators.

A multi-year operational plan complements this plan by setting out specific corporate activities under each of the three strategies. In turn, each business unit develops and follow its own detailed operational plan for each fiscal year, and reports progress and results to our senior management team.

As an Agent of Parliament, the Commissioner may be asked to appear before Parliament to explain our work and on our progress against this plan. The Commissioner tables an annual report in Parliament each year in which she reviews our activities for the year through the lens of this plan.

We also report annually to Parliament and Canadians on our plans, priorities and results through our Departmental Plan and Departmental Results Report, including against specific performance indicators.

Together, this suite of documents provides employees and managers with important guidance so they can manage their activities and ensure their work is moving us towards our vision and contributing to the delivery of our mission.

This plan and related reports provide external stakeholders—including complainants, institutions and Parliament—with information and insight into how we approach our work and use our resources.

We will revisit the plan each year and adjust it, if needed, to respond to changing circumstances.

To learn more about the Office of the Information Commissioner

Website: www.oic-ci.gc.ca

Email: general@oic-ci.gc.ca
Tel. (toll free): 1 800 267-0441
Fax: 819-994-1768

Office of the Information Commissioner
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC  K1A 1H3

Strategic planning

France Labine, Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services, Strategic Planning and Transformation Services
Tel.: 819-994-8181
Email: france.labine@ci-oic.gc.ca

Media enquiries

Natalie Bartlett, Manager, Communications and Linguistic Services
Tel.: 819-994-1068
Email: natalie.bartlett@oic-ci.gc.ca

To submit a complaint under the Access to Information Act

Online: http://www.oic-ci.gc.ca
Email: greffe-registry@oic-ci.gc.ca
Fax: 819-994-1768

Office of the Information Commissioner
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC  K1A 1H3

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