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Archived - 2018 to 2019 Annual Report on the Access to Information Act

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Table of contents

1) Introduction

The Access to Information Act (hereafter referred to as the Act) gives Canadian citizens as well as people and corporations present in Canada, the right to access records under the control of federal government institutions with limited and specific exceptions. The Act is intended to complement existing procedures for access to government information and not to limit, in any way, information that is normally available to the public.

Section 72 of the Act requires the heads of federal government institutions to submit a report to Parliament on their institution's administration of the Act for each fiscal year. This report, along with all Access to Information annual reports, is tabled in Parliament in accordance with section 72 of the Actand describes how the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) administered the Act for fiscal year 2018 to 2019. It was prepared in accordance with the reporting requirements outlined by Treasury Board Secretariat.

The CFIA is mandated to safeguard Canada's food supply and the plants and animals upon which safe and high-quality food depends. As part of its commitment to openness and transparency, the CFIA recognizes the right to access information in government records and is making every reasonable effort to help anyone making an access to information request.

About the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

The CFIA is one of Canada's largest science-based regulatory agencies. It has over 6,733 employees working across Canada in 5 operational Regions including the National Capital Region (NCR) Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and West. The CFIA is dedicated to safeguarding food safety, animal and plant health, which enhances Canada's environment, economy, and the health and well-being of Canada's people.

CFIA develops program requirements and delivers inspection and other services to:

CFIA bases its activities on science, effective risk management, commitment to service and efficiency, and collaboration with domestic and international organizations that share its objectives.

The CFIA is responsible for administering and enforcing 10 federal statutes and 22 regulations that govern the safety and labelling of food sold in Canada and support a sustainable plant and animal resource base.

The CFIA shares many areas of responsibility with other federal departments and agencies, provincial, territorial and municipal authorities, and other stakeholders. Within this complex operating environment, the agency works with its partners to implement food safety measures, manage food, animal and plant risks and emergencies, and promote the development of food safety and disease control systems to maintain the safety of Canada's high-quality agriculture, agri-food, aquaculture and fishery products. The agency's activities include: verifying the compliance of imported products; registering and inspecting establishments; testing food, animals and plants, and their related products; and approving the use of many agricultural inputs. The agency also provides scientific advice, develops new technologies, provides testing services, and conducts regulatory research.

The CFIA's responsibilities and strategic outcomes are illustrated in its Departmental Results Framework, which reflects how the agency allocates and manages its resources to achieve the corresponding expected results. The CFIA is led by its President who reports to the Minister of Health.

Administration of the Act

Administration of the Act is the primary responsibility of the ATIP Office, which is part of the Integrity and Redress Secretariat. The ATIP Office processes all requests for information and coordinates all activities related to the Act, along with associated regulations, directives and guidelines. The ATIP Office is headed by a Director who reports to the Chief Redress Officer. During the reporting period, there were 14.10 full-time, part time or student equivalents and 1.32 persons (consultants) dedicated to the ATIP Office.

In addition to the ATIP Office resources, there are also dedicated ATIP Advisor positions in the core Branches who report on Branch-related ATIP issues and activities. These Branch Advisors work with the ATIP Office to ensure an efficient and effective process to respond to the applicants in a timely manner.

Resources

An estimated $831K in salary costs and $207K in operating costs were incurred by the ATIP Office to administer the Access to Information Act for the reporting period. These costs do not include resources within each Branch such as the ATIP Advisors, nor any other expenditures incurred by the Branches and program areas to meet the requirements of the Act.

Staff training and awareness

The ATIP Office provided 11 training sessions to 161 employees in the five operational Regions during fiscal year 2018 to 2019. The aim of the training sessions was to increase awareness of the Act, clarify requirements under the Act, and highlight processes that facilitate the CFIA in meeting its obligations. In addition to the training delivered by the ATIP Office, Branch ATIP Advisors provided awareness sessions within their respective Branches. The work of the Branch ATIP Advisors was complemented and facilitated through weekly touch base meetings with ATIP management and monthly meetings where operational issues, including training and awareness were discussed and plans formulated for resolution.

Policies, guidelines and procedures

The CFIA continued to work on process improvements for ATIP in order to provide greater oversight and accountability. The activities related to access to information and privacy are reviewed quarterly and weekly updates regarding ATI request volumes and performance are provided to the offices of both the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, Senior Management Committee and key internal partners.

As part of Canada's commitment to "Open Government", the ATIP Buy-online was implemented at the CFIA in January 2014. It enables Canadians to make access to information requests online for information held by the agency. Utilization by Canadians of Buy-online services continues to increase. From April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 the agency received 210 access requests through this system.

During the previous reporting period, the ATIP Office was recognized for an award of excellence in ATIP services as part of the Treasury Board of Canada's Chief Information Officer Community Awards for its ATIP Paperless initiative. During this reporting period, the ATIP Office built on the success of this initiative through the development of standardized processes and practices that will shift the Office's internal case management to entirely digital and a near-paperless file format. The new processes will be implemented during the next reporting period and reported upon accordingly.

Finally, the ATIP Office worked extensively with its internal agency clients to increase awareness and refine or establish business processes to facilitate the CFIA's adoption of new or revised Access to Information Act and Privacy Act provisions resulting from the potential passage of Bill C-58. Complementing this internal work was the Office's active engagement with Treasury Board Secretariat and the government-wide ATIP Community to stay abreast of Bill C-58's progress through Parliament and draw on the collective learning of the Community as it prepared for the Bill's potential passage.

2) How Requests Were Processed Under the Act

The CFIA received 302 new requests under the Act between April 1, 2018 and March 31, 2019. There were 69 outstanding requests from the previous year, bringing the total to 371 requests. Of the 371 requests, 309 were processed during the reporting period and 62 were carried forward to 2019-20. It is also important to note that of the 309 requests completed, 31 exceeded 1,000 pages and included two requests over 12,000 pages.

For requests submitted pursuant to the Act, the ATIP Office reviewed a total of 125,982 pages during the reporting period, of which 68,359 were released. This corresponds to a 15% decrease in the number of pages reviewed from last reporting period.

Throughout the reporting period, the ATIP Office maintained a high service standard with 89% of the requests closed on time.

The following table outlines the cycle of ATI requests at CFIA for the last five fiscal years:
Fiscal Year 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019
Received 271 339 334 387 302
Completed 358 356 319 385 309
Outstanding from previous FY 156 69 52 67 69
Carried forward 69 52 67 69 62

The following represents a breakdown of the sources of requests received during the fiscal year:

Consultations

During the reporting period, the CFIA received 115 consultations from other government institutions concerning the release of agency records. This represents an increase of 10 consultation requests (9%) over last year, in which 105 consultations were received. The agency completed 109 consultations that resulted in the review of 4,402 pages.

Fiscal Year 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019
Consultations 61 77 83 105 115
Pages Reviewed 2,253 4,204 9,147 4,891 4,402

Completion times and extensions

The 309 completed requests in 2018 to 2019 were processed within the following timeframes:

The CFIA was able to close 57% of requests within the first 30 days; this is very similar to the last reporting period.

In 164 instances, the CFIA found it necessary to extend the original time limit of 30 calendar days as prescribed in the Act. This constitutes 54% of the requests, in comparison to 53% for the last reporting period. Of these extensions, 93 were required for third-party consultations pursuant to section 27 of the Act, 40 for interference with operations and another 31 for consultations with federal or provincial authorities. The CFIA monitors performance through quarterly reports to senior agency officials.

Disposition of completed requests

There were 309 requests completed in 2018 to 2019. The disposition of the requests is as follows:

Exemptions and exclusions

The CFIA invoked exemptions pursuant to the Acta total of 660 times. The exemptions were invoked as follows:

The following table outlines the use of exemptions invoked by CFIA over the last five fiscal years. It shows the total number of exemptions and highlights the sections used most frequently by CFIA.

Fiscal Year 2014 to 2015 2015 to 2016 2016 to 2017 2017 to 2018 2018 to 2019
Total 776 699 640 801 660
Section 19 219 204 191 198 169
Section 20 227 211 231 295 225
Section 21 155 113 98 145 122
Other exemptions 175 171 120 163 144

Exclusions were invoked 5 times during the reporting period for Confidences of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and none for published material.

Fees

During the reporting period, the CFIA collected a total of $1,505 in fees under the Act, which were all for application fees. The agency waived fees in the amount of $2,869 which included $40.00 of application fees and $2,829 of reproduction fees.

3) Complaints and investigations

The CFIA received 7 complaints from the Office of the Information Commissioner in 2018 to 2019. This represents a decrease of three (3) complaints over the previous reporting period, in which 10 complaints were received. The reasons cited for the new complaints are as follows:

Between April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019, thirteen (13) complaints were resolved, including complaints carried forward from previous years. Of the thirteen (13) complaints closed, one (1) was discontinued, two (2) were resolved as not well founded and ten (10) were resolved as well founded.

4) Court cases

Six (6) new applications were filed with the Federal Court of Canada and one (1) court case was closed during the reporting period. The new applications were filed pursuant to section 44 of the Act. Section 44 allows a third party, to whom the head of a government institution must give notice regarding the disclosure of a record, to apply to the Court for a review of the matter.

Appendix A: Statistical Report

Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Name of institution: Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Reporting period: April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019

Part 1 – Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of requests
Number of requests
Received during the reporting period 302
Outstanding from previous reporting period 69
Total 371
Closed during reporting period 309
Carried over to next reporting period 62
1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number of requests
Media 32
Academia 1
Business (private sector) 165
Organization 15
Public 77
Decline to identify 12
Total 302
1.3 Informal requests
Completion time
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total
30 40 66 30 4 0 0 170

Note: All requests previously recorded as "treated informally" will now be accounted for in this section only.

Part 2 – Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time
Disposition of requests Completion time
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 Total
All disclosed 4 19 2 4 1 0 0 30
Disclosed in part 9 40 25 54 18 17 4 167
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
No records exist 59 27 3 0 0 0 0 89
Request transferred 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 14 3 3 1 0 0 2 23
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 86 89 33 59 19 17 6 309
2.2 Exemptions
Section Number of requests
13(1)(a) 18
13(1)(b) 2
13(1)(c) 10
13(1)(d) 1
13(1)(e) 0
14 3
14(a) 2
14(b) 2
15(1) 22
15(1) - I.A. Table Note 1 1
15(1) - Def. Table Note 2 2
15(1) - S.A. Table Note 3 0
16(1)(a)(i) 3
16(1)(a)(ii) 0
16(1)(a)(iii) 0
16(1)(b) 0
16(1)(c) 8
16(1)(d) 0
16(2) 0
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 28
16(3) 0
16.1(1)(a) 0
16.1(1)(b) 0
16.1(1)(c) 0
16.1(1)(d) 0
16.2(1) 0
16.3 0
16.4(1)(a) 0
16.4(1)(b) 0
16.5 0
17 15
18(a) 0
18(b) 0
18(c) 0
18(d) 1
18.1(1)(a) 0
18.1(1)(b) 0
18.1(1)(c) 0
18.1(1)(d) 0
19(1) 169
20(1)(a) 12
20(1)(b) 93
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(c) 79
20(1)(d) 41
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 38
21(1)(b) 50
21(1)(c) 24
21(1)(d) 10
22 4
22.1(1) 0
23 17
24(1) 5
26 0

Table Notes

Table Note 1

I.A.: International Affairs

Return to table note 1 referrer

Table Note 2

Def.: Defence of Canada

Return to table note 2 referrer

Table Note 3

S.A.: Subversive Activities

Return to table note 3 referrer

2.3 Exclusions
Section Number of requests
68(a) 0
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 0
68.2(b) 0
69(1) 1
69(1)(a) 0
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 0
69(1)(d) 1
69(1)(e) 1
69(1)(f) 0
69(1)(g) re (a) 0
69(1)(g) re (b) 0
69(1)(g) re (c) 0
69(1)(g) re (d) 1
69(1)(g) re (e) 1
69(1)(g) re (f) 0
69.1(1) 0
2.4 Format of information released
Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 14 16 0
Disclosed in part 46 121 0
Total 60 137 0
2.5 Complexity
2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requests Number of pages processed Number of pages disclosed Number of requests
All disclosed 1666 1582 30
Disclosed in part 121648 65217 167
All exempted 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0
Request abandoned 2318 0 23
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0
2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less than 100 pages processed 101 to 500 pages processed 501 to 1000 pages processed 1001 to 5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed
All disclosed 27 273 2 619 1 690 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 78 1842 43 8314 17 8744 25 24425 4 21892
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 18 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 123 2115 49 8933 19 9434 25 24425 4 21892
2.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of the fees Legal advice sought Other Total
All disclosed 7 0 0 0 7
Disclosed in part 105 0 0 2 107
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 7 0 0 0 7
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 0 0 0
Total 119 0 0 2 121
2.6 Deemed refusals
2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline Principal reason
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
28 20 3 3 2
2.6.2 Number of days past deadline
Number of days past deadline Number of requests past deadline where no extension was taken Number of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 1 3 4
16 to 30 days 2 1 3
31 to 60 days 0 6 6
61 to 120 days 0 4 4
121 to 180 days 4 3 7
181 to 365 days 0 3 3
More than 365 days 0 1 1
Total 7 21 28
2.7 Requests for translation
Translation requests Accepted Refused Total
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

Part 3 – Extensions

3.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Disposition of requests where an extension was taken 9(1)(a) Interference with operations 9(1)(b) Consultation 9(1)(c) Third party notice
Section 69 Other
All disclosed 0 0 2 2
Disclosed in part 37 1 25 85
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 2
Request abandoned 3 0 3 4
Total 40 1 30 93
3.2 Length of extensions
Length of extensions 9(1)(a) Interference with operations 9(1)(b) Consultation 9(1)(c) Third party notice
Section 69 Other
30 days or less 13 0 2 0
31 to 60 days 9 0 12 79
61 to 120 days 12 1 12 13
121 to 180 days 2 0 3 1
181 to 365 days 3 0 1 0
365 days or more 1 0 0 0
Total 40 1 30 93

Part 4 – Fees

Fee type Fee collected Fee waived or refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of requests Amount
Application 301 $1,505 8 $40
Search 0 $0 0 $0
Production 0 $0 0 $0
Programming 0 $0 0 $0
Preparation 0 $0 0 $0
Alternative format 0 $0 0 $0
Reproduction 0 $0 174 $2,829
Total 301 $1,505 182 $2,869

Part 5 – Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions and organizations
Consultations Other Government of Canada institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 111 3801 4 82
Outstanding from the previous report 4 744 0 0
Total 115 4545 4 82
Closed during the reporting period 105 4320 4 82
Pending at the end of the reporting period 10 225 0 0
5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions
Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 Total
Disclose entirely 47 34 6 0 0 0 0 87
Disclose in part 5 9 2 0 1 0 0 17
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 53 43 8 0 1 0 0 105
5.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
Recommendation Number of days required to complete consultation requests
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 Total
Disclose entirely 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 4
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 4

Part 6 – Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

6.1 Requests with Legal Services
Number of days Fewer than 100 pages processed 101 to 500 pages processed 501 to 1000 pages processed 1001 to 5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 1 18 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 1 253 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 18 1 253 0 0 0 0 0 0
6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of days Fewer than 100 pages processed 101 to 500 pages processed 501 to 1000 pages processed 1001 to 5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed Number of requests Pages dis-closed
1 to 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Part 7 – Complaints and investigations

Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
7 2 1 10

Part 8 – Court action

Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 6 6

Part 9 – Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $831,418
Overtime $0

Goods and services
Professional services contracts ($158,466)
Other ($48,901)

$207,367
Total $1,038,785
9.2 Human Resources
Resources Person years dedicated to Access to Information activities
Full-time employees 11.05
Part-time and casual employees 0.15
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.86
Students 0.78
Total 12.84
New exemption table
Access to Information Act
Section Number of requests
16.31 Investigation under the Elections Act 0
16.6 National Security and Intelligence Committee 0
23.1 Patent or Trademark privilege 0

Appendix B: Delegation Order

Access to Information Act and Privacy Act Delegation Orders

The President of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, and section 73 of the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the powers, duties and functions of the President as the head of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, under the provisions of the Act and related regulations set out in the schedule opposite each position. This designation replaces all previous delegation orders.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency Delegation Schedule

Position/Titles Schedule
Access to Information Act and regulations
Schedule
Privacy Act and regulations
Executive Vice-President Full authority Full authority
Chief Redress Officer, Integrity and Redress Secretariat (IRS) Full authority Full authority
Director, Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP), IRS Full authority Full authority
Manager, ATIP, IRS Full authority Full authority
Team Leader, ATIP, IRS Full authority Full authority
Senior Analyst and Analyst, ATIP, IRS

Sections of the Act:

4(2.1), 7, 9, 11(2), 11(3), 11(4), 11(5), 27(1), 27(4), 28(1)(b), 33 and 35(2)(b).

Sections of the Access to Information Regulations:
7(2) and 7(3)

Sections of the Act:

8(4), 15 and 33(2)

Original signed by:

Dr. Siddika Mithani, Ph.D.
President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Ottawa, Canada
May 10, 2019

Date modified: