Annual Report to Parliament on the Access to Information Act 2014-2015

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Table of Contents

  1. Highlights
  2. Introduction
  3. Governance and accountability
  4. Privy Council Office delegation order
  5. Access to Information and Privacy Division
  6. Activities and accomplishments
  7. Education and training activities
  8. Information-related policies, guidelines, and procedures
    1. a) Posting of completed access to information requests
    2. b) Electronic release of records
  9. Other activities
    1. a) Reading room
    2. b) Proactive disclosure
  10. Interpretation of the Statistical Report
    1. Part 1: Requests under the Access to Information Act
      1. 1.1) Requests
      2. 1.2) Sources of requests
      3. 1.3) Informal requests
      4. 1.4) Types of Information requested
    2. Part 2: Requests closed during the reporting period
      1. 2.1) Disposition and completion time
      2. 2.2) Exemptions
      3. 2.3) Exclusions
      4. 2.4) Format of information released
      5. 2.5) Complexity
        1. 2.5.1) Relevant pages processed and disclosed
        2. 2.5.2) Relevant Pages processed and disclosed by size of request
        3. 2.5.3) Other complexities
      6. 2.6) Deemed refusals
      7. 2.7) Requests for translation
    3. Part 3: Extensions
      1. 3.1) Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
      2. 3.2) Length of extensions
    4. Part 4: Fees
    5. Part 5: Consultations received from other institutions and organizations
      1. 5.1) Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations
      2. 5.2) Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions
      3. 5.3) Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations
    6. Part 6: Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences
      1. 6.1) Requests with Legal Services
      2. 6.2) Requests with Privy Council Office
    7. Part 7: Complaints and investigations
      1. 7.1) Complaints
      2. 7.2) Investigations
    8. Part 8: Court action
    9. Part 9: Resources related to the Access to Information Act
      1. 9.1) Costs
      2. 9.2) Human resources
  11. Appendix A: Delegation order
  12. Appendix B: 2014-2015 Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act
  13. Appendix C: Exemptions and exclusions

Highlights

  1. Despite an increase in the number of pages reviewed over the last three fiscal years, the Privy Council Office (PCO) has maintained a high level of performance in access to information. In 2014-2015, 76,372 pages were processed, which represents a 31% increase in the pages reviewed from last fiscal year and more than double the amount reviewed in 2012-2013. These pages have to undergo a thorough review process in which multiple PCO Secretariats and government departments are consulted. Considering the complexity and increased page volume, it is an achievement that 95.3% of the requests were completed on-time.
  2. A new practice for releasing records was implemented near the close of 2014-2015. Response packages are provided on a CD when packages are more than 125 pages, or when requesters ask for an electronic version. The PDF documents are released in a secure format. This electronic practice eliminates fees to requesters for the cost of reproducing records of more than 125 pages at no additional expense to PCO.
  3. In compliance with Treasury Board Secretariat requirements, PCO posts monthly summaries of completed access to information requests. As of March 1, 2015, summaries are posted on the Open Government website, where visitors can find these abstracts dating back to June 2013. Older lists are accessible via the PCO website. In addition to accepting requests by mail, the Department makes a generic e-mail address available to the public to facilitate submissions. In 2014-2015, PCO released 427 completed records packages informally to the public.

Introduction

The Privy Council Office (PCO) reports directly to the Prime Minister and is headed by the Clerk of the Privy Council and the Secretary to the Cabinet. PCO is both the Cabinet secretariat and the Prime Minister’s source of public service advice across the entire spectrum of policy questions and operational issues facing the Government. As the hub of non-partisan, public service support to the Prime Minister, Cabinet and its decision-making structures, PCO ensures that the Government and Canadians are served by the highest quality public service.

During 2014-2015, PCO also provided support to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; the Minister of State and Chief Government Whip; and the Minister of State (Democratic Reform).

PCO has three main roles:

  • Advice to the Prime Minister - PCO brings together quality, objective policy advice, analysis and information to support the Prime Minister, the ministers within the Prime Minister's portfolio and Cabinet. This includes:
    • bringing together non-partisan advice, analysis and information from across the Public Service;
    • consulting and collaborating with international and domestic partners inside and outside of government (including provincial and territorial governments);
    • gathering information on the priorities of Canadians;
    • supporting and advising on the development and implementation of the Government’s Parliamentary and legislative programs and democratic reform agenda; and
    • advising on Canada’s Westminster style of government, on government structure and organization, and on Governor in Council appointments.
  • Secretariat to Cabinet - PCO facilitates the smooth, efficient and effective functioning of Cabinet and the Government of Canada on a day-to-day basis. This includes:
    • managing the Cabinet's decision-making system;
    • coordinating departments’ policy and legislative proposals to Cabinet, with supporting policy analysis;
    • scheduling and providing support services for meetings of Cabinet and Cabinet committees;
    • advancing the Government's agenda across federal departments and agencies and with external stakeholders;
    • advising on Governor in Council appointments, including directing and coordinating selection and recruitment processes for leadership and full-time Governor in Council positions across the public sector and supporting Cabinet in decision-making related to Governor in Council appointments;
    • preparing Orders in Council and other statutory instruments to give effect to Government decisions; and
    • providing administrative services to the Prime Minister's Office, portfolio ministers and commissions of inquiry.
  • Public Service Leadership - PCO supports the development and maintenance of a high quality public service that meets the highest standards of accountability, transparency and efficiency, one that is able to deliver the best advice to government and excellent services to Canadians. This includes:
    • managing the recruitment and appointment process for senior positions in federal departments and agencies;
    • guiding policy on people management issues and public service renewal; and
    • building the capacity of the public service to meet emerging challenges and the changing responsibilities of government.

This is the 32nd Annual Report to Parliament on the administration of the Access to Information Act (ATIA) by PCO, submitted as required by s. 72(1) of the ATIA. This report covers the reporting period of April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.

Additional copies of this report may be obtained from:

  • Access to Information and Privacy Division
    Privy Council Office
    55 Metcalfe Street, Room 1500
    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A3

Governance and accountability

PCO provides support to the Prime Minister and to the ministers within his portfolio, which, in 2014-2015, included: the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs; the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; the Minister of State and Chief Government Whip; and the Minister of State (Democratic Reform).

Reporting to the Prime Minister, the Clerk of the Privy Council has three main roles: Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister; Secretary to the Cabinet; and Head of the Federal Public Service. PCO’s Corporate Services Branch, which reports directly to the Clerk, has four divisions, including Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP). The ATIP Division has three functional areas of responsibility: ATIP Policy and Processes; Operations; and Client Services.

Privy Council Office delegation order

The Minister heading each government institution is responsible for the implementation of the ATIA within his/her institution. The Prime Minister, as the Head of the Privy Council Office and pursuant to s. 73 of the ATIA, is responsible for the implementation of the ATIA within PCO. Through the PCO delegation order, the Prime Minister designated the Director, Access to Information and Privacy, as the individual within PCO to perform the powers, duties, functions, or administrative tasks pertaining to the ATIA. PCO Secretariats, or Offices of Primary Interest (OPIs), holders of the information identified in an access request, approve the release of information to requesters and the application of exemptions or exclusions and supporting rationales. This shared delegation of authority for the disposition of information is exercised diligently within PCO, and recorded formally at appropriate stages in the process. The PCO delegation order is shown at Appendix A.

Access to Information and Privacy Division

The ATIA provides a right of access to information in records under the control of government institutions. The ATIA is not a substitute for other access mechanisms, but is intended to complement other informal procedures that allow public access to government information. The ATIA stipulates that government information should be available to the public, necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific, and decisions made by government institutions about the disclosure of information should be reviewed by a body independent of government.

The ATIP Division is the focal point for access to information and privacy within PCO. The ATIP Division is responsible for managing requests for departmental or personal information, ensuring corporate understanding and compliance with the ATIA and the Privacy Act (PA), and fostering corporate awareness of access and privacy rights and responsibilities. On matters of access and privacy, the ATIP Division also acts as a primary liaison with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC), the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), and partner departments.

The ATIP Division has a personnel complement totalling 27 full-time equivalents that are organized into three categories of responsibility.

  1. ATIP Policy and Processes
    • provides expertise in access to information and privacy policy;
    • optimizes operations performance; and
    • researches trends and best practices in access to information and privacy.
  2. Operations
    • processes access to information and privacy requests;
    • oversees the collection and release of personal and/or business information; and
    • maintains dialogue with PCO secretariats and other federal or provincial institutions.
  3. Client Services
    • produces training and promotional products;
    • develops and delivers ATIP training programs;
    • develops ATIP awareness messaging;
    • coordinates responses to Parliamentary questions and petitions on behalf of PCO; and
    • provides database administration

In compliance with s. 12(1) of the ATIA, the ATIP Division also provides a Reading Room where the public may examine requested departmental records, manuals, and publications related to access to information.

Activities and accomplishments

Key Operational Statistics
Access to Information Requests 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13
Requests Received 646 907 780
Requests Completed 677 772 725
Requests Completed On-Time (%) 95.3% 97.8% 99.7%
OIC Grade A (projected) A (projected) A (projected)
Total Pages Reviewed 76,372 58,409 36,443

Since receiving an “F” performance rating by the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, the Privy Council Office has steadily improved its performance to the public. For the last three fiscal years (2012-2013 to 2014-2015), the percentage of requests responded to on-time by PCO has been 95% or better, despite a 110% increase in page volume over the same period. PCO has focused on the modernization of its technology and business environment, process improvement, human resources planning, and managing change to reach this goal.

Education and training activities

PCO promotes ATIP imperatives in face-to-face meetings, presentations, special events, learning products, on the intranet and through its training program. It fosters strong working relationships with clients, and operates under a clearly established timeline.

In 2014-2015, PCO delivered ATIP training or awareness sessions to over 140 employees through a total of 16 training events during the reporting year. The majority of these training sessions took place in order to provide an ATIP overview to internal secretariats, as well as to deliver insight on the process and application of exemptions.

To promote understanding of access and privacy responsibilities, the PCO Executive Committee was briefed by the ATIP Director on access and privacy statistics, performance and compliance. ATIP senior staff met with senior officials in PCO Secretariats to clarify roles and strengthen working relationships. Throughout 2014-2015, PCO ATIP analysts liaised with clients to explain the five-stage request timeline, train on processes such as the search for records, assist with records review, and explain their working role. On a quarterly basis during the reporting year, ATIP learning content on the internal PCO website was updated to reflect current business practices and contacts for support.

PCO personnel are provided with multiple channels to information on access and privacy, such as an ATIP instruction booklet, an e-mailbox for questions, takeaway learning tools, and comprehensive electronic content on PCO’s intranet.

Information-related policies, guidelines, and procedures

a) Posting of completed access to information requests

As part of the Open Government Initiative, PCO provides the monthly summaries of completed access to information requests online. This information includes: summary of request text, disposition, and number of pages disclosed. Summaries are available here from June 2013 onward with direct links for requesting a copy of records. The public can also submit informal requests for completed files by mail or via the generic email on the PCO website. This website has lists of request summaries for the time period of December 2011 to December 2014. Requests related to the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat are processed by PCO and are included in the lists. Records are provided in the form that they were released under the ATIA including format, language(s) and any exemptions or exclusions that were applied.

As reported in the Statistical Report, PCO released a total of 427 previously released ATI packages informally between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.

b) Electronic release of records

In March 2015, ATIP introduced a new practice for the release of records, in which packages over 125 pages are provided in PDF format on a CD. CDs are also provided if the requester asks for an electronic copy. Verification of the PDF by ATIP officers and management takes place at four stages to ensure its accuracy. The PDF format has been deemed tamper-proof and secure by PCO Security Operations. This initiative also benefits the requesters, who are no longer subject to fees for the cost of reproducing packages that are more than 125 pages. The electronic release packages create no additional expense for PCO. This environmentally-friendly procedure is projected to constitute up to one-third of responses annually. While one package under the ATIA was released electronically in 2014-2015, the policy is fully operational from the start of fiscal year 2015-2016.

Other activities

a) Reading room

In Fall 2014, ATIP operations moved to a new office which made it necessary to re-locate the Reading Room. The Reading Room is now on the first floor of the Hope Building at 63 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario. This secure location allows for an appropriate separation from office activities and provides requesters with a suitable environment to review documents. ATIP officers reserve the space in advance to ensure that it is available to requesters.

b) Proactive disclosure

In compliance with mandatory proactive disclosure requirements for government organizations, the PCO website continued to make available information concerning PCO travel and hospitality expenses, reclassification of positions, contracts over $10,000, and grant and contribution awards.

Interpretation of the Statistical Report

The 2014-2015 Statistical Report on the ATIA is shown at Appendix B.

Part 1: Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1) Requests

Between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, PCO received 646 requests for information under the ATIA, a decrease of just under 30% from 2013-2014. While generally trending upwards over the last 10 years, request totals have been variable since 2007-2008. The volume of access requests rose over 16% between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, culminating with the highest request volume on record at 907.

Figure 1 - Volume of Requests by Year
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A total of 281 active requests were carried into 2014-2015 from the previous fiscal year, and 250 were carried forward into 2015-2016.

1.2) Sources of requests

The sources of access to information requests, in descending order by volume, were: media, public; business; academia; and organization.

As shown in the chart below, the breakdown of the requests received during 2014-2015 is as follows:

  • 460 or 71% - media;
  • 112 or 17% - public;
  • 38 or 6% - business (private sector);
  • 24 or 4% - academia; and
  • 12 or 2% - organization, including from Parliament (members of the House of Commons or Senate).

At 460, requests from the media declined by 22% in volume from 2013-2014, but continued to form the largest portion of the request volume at 71%. Requests from the public were second in volume at 112, down slightly from 120 in the last fiscal year. Volume of business requests has been in decline over the last two fiscal years, decreasing by 63% from 2013-14 to only 38 requests. Remaining requests came from academia with 24 requests, and organizations with 12. The number of requests submitted by both of these sources decreased by 27% and 81%, respectively.

Figure 2 - Requests by Source
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1.3) Informal requests

Figure 3 - Completion Time for Informal Requests
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In 2014-2015, a total of 427 informal requests were completed compared to 652 completed in 2013 2014, which represents a decrease of 35%. One hundred and forty-two or 33% of informal requests were completed in 30 days or less, 253 or 59% were completed in 31-120 days, 28 or 7% were completed in 121-180 days, and 4 or 1% were completed in 181 days or more.

1.4) Types of Information requested

Just as the source of requests varied, so did the subject of requests received. Subjects included:

  • security in the lead up to, and the aftermath of, the October 2014 deaths of soldiers in Canada;
  • cyber security issues, including the “Heartbleed” event and the cyber intrusion at the National Research Council;
  • briefing notes to the Prime Minister for various time periods; and
  • legislation such as Bills C-23 and C-51.

Part 2: Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1) Disposition and completion time

In 2014-2015, PCO completed 677 requests, 5% more than were received. As shown in the chart below, the breakdown of the disposition of records is as follows:

  • 31 were all disclosed;
  • 396 were disclosed in part;
  • 13 were all exempted;
  • 22 were all excluded;
  • 122 where no records exist;
  • 15 were transferred;
  • 61 were abandoned; and
  • 17 “neither confirmed nor denied”, including 1 neither confirmed nor denied (per s.10(2)) and 16 closed pending consultation.

Figure 4 - Disposition of Requests Completed
Text version

As these figures indicate, 427 or 63% of all requests were fully or partially disclosed, up from 56% in 2013-2014. The total of requests where no records were disclosed (either exempted or excluded) decreased to 5%, down from 11% in the last reporting year.

In terms of completion times, 265 or 39% of requests sent to PCO were completed within 30 days. The second-largest volume of requests was those completed in 61 to 120 days - 198 or 29%. Nineteen requests or 3% were completed in more than 365 days. The complex, sensitive and multi-jurisdictional nature of PCO records is a factor in the time required to complete requests.

2.2) Exemptions

While the ATIApromotes disclosure, there are instances where information qualifies for necessary protection under the ATIA.

Totals for the six most commonly used exemptions during 2014-2015 were, in order:

  • 342 under s. 19(1) - personal information;
  • 313 under s. 21(1)(b) - consultations or deliberations related to operations of government;
  • 184 under s. 21(1)(a) - advice or recommendations developed by or for a government institution or minister;
  • 146 under s. 15(1) - information related to international affairs and defence of Canada;
  • 124 under s. 23 - information subject to solicitor-client privilege; and
  • 99 under s. 14- information related to federal-provincial affairs.

The use of these exemptions is consistent with the role of PCO and the content of the records it controls, both of which involve confidential consultations, deliberations and advice provided to Government on issues of national and international scope. Nonetheless, excluding requests transferred, abandoned, for which no records existed, or neither confirmed nor denied, fully 92% of requesters received records from PCO, in whole or in part, in response to their requests.

Appendix C contains a description of the total exemptions invoked during the 2014-2015 reporting period, as well as those that were not invoked.

2.3) Exclusions

The ATIA does not apply to certain information described by s. 68 of the ATIA (published material) or to confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council pursuant to s. 69. Overall in 2014-2015, s. 68 was cited on 27 occasions, and s. 69 was cited on 284 occasions.

A graphic of the relative use of exclusions in 2014-2015 is shown below. The central use of exclusion under s. 69(1)(e), for records used to brief ministers of the Crown, reflects the role of PCO in providing advice and information to the Prime Minister and to Cabinet and its decision-making structures.

Figure 5 - Exclusions Cited
Text version

Appendix C contains a description of the total exclusions cited during the 2014-2015 reporting period, as well as those that were not cited.

2.4) Format of information released

In March 2015, PCO began providing electronic release packages for interested requesters or for those with responses over 125 pages. A total of one request was released in electronic form on CD while 426 requests were released on paper or in other formats. Requesters have the option of receiving the response by mail or by picking it up in person. Nearly all replies were sent to the requester by mail.

2.5) Complexity

2.5.1) Relevant pages processed and disclosed

A total of 76,372 pages were processed by PCO in 2014-2015, an increase of over 17,900 pages from 2013-2014. For ATI requests which were “all disclosed” or “disclosed in part”, 63,606 pages were processed and 34,996 pages were disclosed. This equates to 55% of these pages having been released, in whole or in part. The pages processed for requests entirely withheld or abandoned amounted to 17% of the total pages processed in 2014-2015, an increase of 5% from the previous fiscal year.

2.5.2) Relevant Pages processed and disclosed by size of request

Where records were disclosed in whole or in part, 68% of requests, or 290 out of 427, required the processing of less than 100 pages. A total of 98 requests involved the processing of 101-500 pages, and between 501-1000 pages were processed for 31 requests. Requests of between 1001-5000 pages in size, which require significant time and resources to process, totalled eight and saw over 6,500 pages disclosed.

Note that the number of pages processed is not an accurate gauge of the time required to process an access file. A request of many pages may involve basic records that require relatively little time to review, while small requests of a few pages could contain a complex amalgam of high-level content from several departments, requiring in-depth analysis and consultation.

2.5.3) Other complexities

Consultations were undertaken for 189 (28%) of the 677 requests completed in 2014-2015. A total of 34 requests required the assessment of fees. Note that, as a single request may accrue more than one complexity, the totals in row six of section 2.5.3 of the Statistical Report will not necessarily be equal to the totals in section 2.1.

2.6) Deemed refusals

In 2014-2015, 32 access to information requests were completed past the deadline, or in “deemed refusal”. As shown at section 2.6.1 of the Statistical Report, 15 requests were postponed due to internal consultations. Fourteen requests were affected by the level of workload in 2014-2015, and two requests were delayed by external consultations. The number of days past the deadline for each request is shown at section 2.6.2 of the Statistical Report.

2.7) Requests for translation

The ATIA states at s. 12(2) that “where access to a record or a part thereof is to be given under this Act and the person…requests that access be given in a particular official language, a copy of the record or part thereof shall be given to the person in that language”, (a) if the record already exists in that language, or (b) if the head of the government institution considers its translation in the public interest. There were no translations requested during the reporting period.

Part 3: Extensions

3.1) Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests

Subsection 9(1) of the ATIA sets out circumstances under which the initial 30-day time limit for response may be extended. Extensions may be taken for the following reasons:

  • if the request is for a large number of records or requires a search through a large number of records, and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the institution;
  • if consultation is necessary with other government institutions, other governments or informally with third parties, and it cannot be completed within 30 days; or
  • if notice is to be given to a third party (pursuant to s. 27(1)) of the pending release of information or trade secrets of that third party.

During 2014-2015, PCO took 307 extensions under s. 9(1)(a) for interference with operations due to the volume of records, versus 242 the previous year. Third party notification required 31 extensions under s. 9(1)(c), up from 29.

Consultations were a significant driver of extensions during the reporting year. A total of 54 extensions for consultations on Confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council and 67 extensions for other types of consultations (121 extensions combined) were taken under s. 9(1)(b). Extensions for consultations were down from the 161 extensions taken in 2013-2014.

Consultations remain inherent to processing the often complex, interdepartmental records under the control of PCO. When PCO sends a consultation request to another federal institution, it first contacts the department to obtain an estimated response time. For consultations with institutions with large workloads, PCO verifies whether a previously recommended consultation period is still accurate. These efforts provide requesters with a more accurate estimate of when they will receive a response. Contacting the institution being consulted to mutually determine how long the consultation will take is considered a best practice by the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Note that the extensions above were taken for all dispositions, not solely for records fully disclosed or disclosed in part.

3.2) Length of extensions

During the 2014-2015 reporting period, 18% (84) of the total 459 extensions taken were for 30 days or less, up from 15% of total extensions in 2013-2014. Of the six timeframes shown at section 3.2 of the Statistical Report, 61 to 120 days was the most common extension, accounting for 53% of all extensions in 2014-2015. Extensions of 121 days and above remained the same as last fiscal year, comprising a total of 9% of total extensions. These statistics can be considered representative of PCO's consultative requirements and its increase in workload. PCO remains committed to the responsible use of extensions under the ATIA, consistent with operational demands.

Part 4: Fees

The fees collected during the reporting period totalled $6,442.00 up from $5,054.00 in 2013-2014. PCO collected $3,392.00 in application fees on 650 requests, in comparison to $3,717.00 collected the previous year. In 2014-2015, PCO waived fees totalling $2,262.00 for 29 requests, principally for search fees and reproduction costs.

Part 5: Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1) Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations

PCO received 381 consultations from other government institutions and organizations during the reporting year, a decrease of 12%, as shown below.

Figure 6 - Volume of access consultations by year
Text version

In parallel with the decrease in total consultations received, the number of pages sent for review decreased by 19%, to approximately 12,900 pages. The institutions which sought the views of PCO included the Department of National Defence; the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; the Department of Finance; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Public Safety Canada.

5.2) Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other Government of Canada institutions

A total of 385 consultation requests from other government institutions were completed by PCO during 2014-2015.

Over the last ten years, the volume of consultations sent to PCO has remained high. Consultations account for a significant portion of the workload and make demands on both PCO ATIP resources and on the PCO records authorities who provide consultative guidance. Nonetheless, in 2014-2015, the Department responded to 48% of consultations (186) from other government institutions in 30 days or less. Almost 25% of consultations (95) were responded to in 15 days or less. PCO recognizes that a prompt rate of response to consulting institutions contributes to more timely service to the public at the broader government level. The recommendations given in response to these consultations were predominantly to disclose the records, either entirely or in part.

The total files relative to response times are shown in the chart below.

Figure 7 - Completion time for consultations from government institutions
Text version

5.3) Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations

A total of nine consultation requests from other organizations were completed by PCO during 2014-2015. Three consultations were responded to within 15 days, and the remainder were responded to within 16 to 30 days. All of the consultations were disclosed entirely or in part.

Part 6: Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

6.1) Requests with Legal Services

Note that in regard to ATIP, PCO consults only with PCO Cabinet Confidences Counsel (CCC). Therefore, no data appears in the table entitled “Completion Time of Consultations on Cabinet Confidences under the ATIA - Requests with Legal Services.”

6.2) Requests with Privy Council Office

In accordance with Treasury Board guidelines in force in 2014-2015, PCO ATIP consulted with PCO CCC for the review and certification of Cabinet confidences contained in government records. PCO ATIP sent 126 consultations to PCO CCC in the reporting period, up from 94 in 2013-2014.

Part 7: Complaints and investigations

7.1) Complaints

In 2014-2015, 48 of 646 requests received by PCO were subject to complaints submitted to the OIC. The total remains the second-lowest volume of complaints in the last six years, and a drop of more than 70% in complaints compared to 2009-2010.  Similarly, complaints from the media, the largest requester of PCO records, have been reduced by 83% over the same six-year span, from 119 to 20.  This was achieved despite a 51% increase in the volume of requests over that time period (429 requests in 2009-2010 vs. 646 requests in 2014-2015). 

In the 2014-2015 reporting period, complaints related to a range of issues, including the exemptions invoked or exclusions cited on records, and extensions taken to complete consultations and meet PCO operational requirements.

The breakdown of complaints by source received in 2014-2015 is as follows:

  • 20 or 42% - media;
  • 13 or 27% - public;
  • 2 or 4% - Parliament (members of the House of Commons or Senate); and
  • 13 or 27% - lawyer.

Figure 8 - Complaints by Source
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The breakdown of complaints closed in 2014-2015 is as follows:

Figure 9 - Complaints Closed
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PCO closed 41 complaints in 2014-2015. While only 25% of the complaints lodged against PCO were well founded, PCO has implemented a series of measures to deal with complaints to ensure they are dealt with in an efficient and timely manner. PCO continues to optimize its work processes by developing expertise and staff appropriately. PCO has spent a considerable amount of time training employees and ensuring they have the proper tools to deal with complaints and investigations from the OIC. PCO also works in close cooperation with the OIC to ensure expectations are met and to ensure that our ATIP Analysts and OPIs have a clear understanding of the complaint process.

7.2) Investigations

In early 2011, the OIC completed its investigation into interference in access to information at PCO.  PCO was one of eight government organizations selected for systemic review.  During the course of the investigation, departmental staff, including the ATIP Director and Deputy Directors, met with OIC investigators to answer questions, provide records for review, and discuss PCO access to information procedures.  While at the end of fiscal year 2014-2015 the investigation was still ongoing, the Information Commissioner informed the President of the Treasury Board on April 9, 2015 that the complaints against the eight institutions which had been the subject of the investigation had been discontinued.

In December 2013, the OIC initiated an investigation related to PCO's information management practices. PCO has cooperated fully with this investigation.  While at the end of fiscal year 2014-2015 the OIC investigation was ongoing, on April 24, 2015, the Information Commissioner issued a finding of “not well founded” to PCO.

Part 8: Court action

No court cases involving PCO were initiated, in progress or completed during the reporting period.

Part 9: Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1) Costs

Salary costs associated with administration of the ATIA were $1,750,871.00 for 2014-2015, up from $1,653,526.00 in 2013-2014. Overtime costs totalled $45,590.00, up from $35,252.00. Goods and services amounted to $424,707.00, up from $342,284.00. The sum of professional services contracts amounted to $276,691.00 and other services amounted to $148,016.00. Total costs were $2,221,168.00, up from $2,031,062.00 in 2013-2014. These costs do not include the resources expended by policy areas of PCO to meet the requirements of the ATIA.

9.2) Human Resources

It remains a challenge to attract and retain ATIP personnel, given the shortage of qualified analysts across the federal government. PCO human resources capacity for the 2014-2015 reporting period was 22.19 employees out of 27 approved full time equivalents (FTEs), as shown in the chart below. This is an increase in resources over the 18.8 FTEs of the previous year, and reflects the employment opportunities available to ATIP professionals across government.

Figure 10 - Human resources (FTEs)
Text version

Note that the 2011-2012 Statistical Report on the ATIA did not permit the reporting of person-year utilization in fractions.

Appendix A: Delegation order

The Prime Minister, as head of the Privy Council Office and pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Acta, hereby designates the officers or employees holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, and any persons acting in those positions, to exercise or perform the powers, duties and functions of the Prime Minister as the head of a government institution under the sections of the Act and the regulations opposite each position in the schedule.

This delegation order supercedes all previous delegation orders.

Prime Minister
Stephen Harper

June 13, 2008

a R.S. 1985, c. A-1

Schedule

Position Sections of the Access to Information Acta Sections of the Access to Information Regulationsb
1. Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet. Full delegation. Full delegation.
2. Any senior management position within the Privy Council Office that reports directly to the position set out in paragraph 1 above. Full delegation. Full delegation.
3. All Assistant Secretaries and Assistant Deputy Ministers within the Privy Council Office. Full delegation. Full delegation.
4. Any management position that is responsible for a unit within the Privy Council Office and that reports directly to a position covered by paragraph 2 above other than the Assistant Deputy Minister of Corporate Services Branch. Full delegation. Full delegation.
5. Coordinator of Access to Information within the Privy Council Office. 7; 8(1); 9; 10; 11(2); 11(3); 11(4); 11(5); 11(6); 12(2)(b); 12(3)(b); 13; 19; 20; 27(1); 27(4); 28(1)(b); 28(2); 28(4); 29(1); 33; 37(4); 43(1); 44(2). 6(1);8.

a R.S. 1985, c. A-1
b SOR/83-507

Appendix B: 2014-2015 Statistical Report on the Access to Information Act

Reporting period: 2014-04-01 to 2015-03-31

Part 1 - Requests under the Access to Information Act

1.1 Number of Requests
  Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 646
Outstanding from previous reporting period 281
Total 927
Closed during reporting period 677
Carried over to next reporting period 250

1.2 Sources of requests
Source Number of Requests
Media 460
Academia 24
Business (Private Sector) 38
Organization 12
Public 112
Decline to Identify 0
Total 646

1.3 Informal requests
Completion Time
1-15 Days 16-30 Days 31-60 Days 61-120 Days 121-180 Days 181-365 Days More Than 365 Days Total
55 87 104 149 28 1 3 427

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 days Total
All disclosed 5 7 7 4 3 5 0 31
Disclosed in part 15 61 59 164 54 33 10 396
All exempted 0 2 3 3 5 0 0 13
All excluded 0 6 2 13 1 0 0 22
No records exist 27 85 4 3 1 2 0 122
Request transferred 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 15
Request abandoned 20 22 3 2 3 2 9 61
Neither confirmed or denied 0 0 0 9 6 2 0 17
Total 82 183 78 198 73 44 19 677

2.2 Exemptions
Section Number of requests
  1. I.A.: International Affairs
  2. Def.: Defence of Canada
  3. S.A.: Subversive Activities
13(1)(a) 5
13(1)(b) 1
13(1)(c) 7
13(1)(d) 1
13(1)(e) 0
14 99
14(a) 7
14(b) 3
15(1) 146
15(1) - I.A.1 0
15(1) - Def.2 0
15(1) - S.A.3 0
16(1)(a)(i) 5
16(1)(a)(ii) 5
16(1)(a)(iii) 2
16(1)(b) 1
16(1)(c) 2
16(1)(d) 0
16(2) 73
16(2)(a) 0
16(2)(b) 0
16(2)(c) 7
16(3) 0
16.1(1)(a) 0
16.1(1)(b) 1
16.1(1)(c) 2
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 1
18(a) 1
18(b) 11
18(c) 0
18(d) 4
18.1(1)(a) 0
18.1(1)(b) 0
18.1(1)(c) 0
18.1(1)(d) 0
19(1) 342
20(1)(a) 7
20(1)(b) 29
20(1)(b.1) 0
20(1)(c) 45
20(1)(d) 8
20.1 0
20.2 0
20.4 0
21(1)(a) 184
21(1)(b) 313
21(1)(c) 19
21(1)(d) 23
22 2
22.1(1) 1
23 124
24(1) 21
26 0

2.3 Exclusions
Section Number of requests
68(a) 25
68(b) 0
68(c) 0
68.1 0
68.2(a) 1
68.2(b) 1
69(1) 1
69(1)(a) 13
69(1)(b) 0
69(1)(c) 7
69(1)(d) 10
69(1)(e) 64
69(1)(f) 4
69(1)(g) re (a) 48
69(1)(g) re (b) 1
69(1)(g) re (c) 46
69(1)(g) re (d) 27
69(1)(g) re (e) 43
69(1)(g) re (f) 20
69.1(1) 0

2.4 Format of information released
Disposition Paper Electronic Other formats
All disclosed 31 0 0
Disclosed in part 389 1 6
Total 420 1 6

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 2,054 1,951 31
Disclosed in part 61,552 33,045 396
All exempted 437 0 13
All excluded 1,592 0 22
Request abandoned 10,737 7,174 61
Neither confirmed nor denied 0 0 17

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less than 100 pages processed 101-500 pages processed 501-1000 pages processed 1001-5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed
All disclosed 25 587 6 1,364 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 265 5,631 92 10,488 31 10,337 8 6,589 0 0
All exempted 12 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 17 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Request abandoned 44 70 9 1,572 5 2,303 3 3,229 0 0
Neither confirmed nor denied 17 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 380 6,288 112 13,424 37 12,640 11 9,818 0 0

2.5.3 Other complexities
Disposition Consultation required Assessment of fees Legal advice sought Other Total
All disclosed 8 1 0 2 11
Disclosed in part 137 17 3 13 170
All exempted 5 1 0 0 6
All excluded 14 0 0 0 14
Request abandoned 10 15 0 0 25
Neither confirmd nor denied 15 0 0 0 15
Total 189 34 3 15 241

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
32 14 2 15 1

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 0 8 8
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 2 2
61 to 120 days 0 12 12
121 to 180 days 0 2 2
181 to 365 days 1 3 4
More than 365 days 1 3 4
Total 2 30 32

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 15 0 2 2
Disclosed in part 258 39 52 23
All exempted 8 2 3 0
All excluded 6 9 1 0
No records exist 9 1 0 0
Request abandoned 11 3 9 6
Total 307 54 67 31

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 59 3 13 9
31 to 60 days 62 11 17 2
61 to 120 days 169 37 33 3
121 to 180 days 10 3 4 2
181 to 365 days 7 0 0 2
365 days or more 0 0 0 13
Total 307 54 67 31

Part 4 - Fees

Fee Type Fee Collected Fee Waived or Refunded
Number of requests Amount Number of requests Amount
Application 650 $3,395   $85
Search 10 $1,346   $1,645
Production 11 $852   $266
Programming 0 $0   $0
Preparation 0 $0   $0
Alternative format 0 $0   $0
Reproduction 11 $852   $266
Total 682 $6,442   $2,262

Part 5 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

5.1 Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations
Consultations Other government institutions Number of pages to review Other organizations Number of pages to review
Received during reporting period 371 12,870 10 210
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 68 5,023 1 102
Total 439 17,893 11 312
Closed during the reporting period 385 13,168 9 202
Pending at the end of the reporting period 54 4,725 2 110

5.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government 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 days Total
Disclose entirely 36 21 25 4 1 0 0 87
Disclose in part 45 66 81 44 4 7 2 249
Exempt entirely 3 4 1 0 0 0 0 8
Exclude entirely 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 4
Consult other institution 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 4
Other 8 0 4 2 0 2 17 33
Total 95 91 115 51 5 9 19 385

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 days Total
Disclose entirely 2 3 0 0 0 0   5
Disclose in part 1 3 0 0 0 0   4
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0   0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0   0
Consult other institution 0 0 0 0 0 0   0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0   0
Total 3 6 0 0 0 0   9

Part 6 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

6.1 Requests with Legal Services
Number of Days Less than 100 pages processed 101-500 pages processed 501-1000 pages processed 1001-5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed
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

6.2 Requests with Privy Council Office
Number of Days Less than 100 pages processed 101-500 pages processed 501-1000 pages processed 1001-5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed
Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed
1 to 15 65 857 14 430 0 0 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 29 278 0 0 3 25 0 0 0 0
31 to 60 7 100 4 423 1 0 0 0 0 0
61 to 120 0 0 0 0 1 40 0 0 0 0
121 to 180 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
181 to 365 1 60 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
More than 365 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 102 1,295 19 853 5 65 0 0 0 0

Part 7 - Complaints and Investigations

Section 32 Section 35 Section 37 Total
48 6 1 55

Part 8 - Court Action

Section 41 Section 42 Section 44 Total
0 0 0 0

Part 9 - Resources related to the Access to Information Act

9.1 Costs
Expenditures Amount
Salaries $1,750,871
Overtime $45,590
Goods and Services $424,707
• Professional services contracts $276,691  
• Other $148,016  
Total $2,221,168

9.2 Human Resources
Resources Person Years Dedicated to Access to Information Activities
Full-time employees 14.45
Part-time and casual employees 4.34
Regional staff 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 1.34
Students 2.06
Total 22.19

Note: Enter values to two decimal places.

Appendix C: Exemptions and exclusions

Exemptions invoked

The total numbers of requests for which specific exemptions were invoked during the 2014-2015 reporting period are as follows:

  • 5 under s. 13(1)(a) - information obtained in confidence from the government of a foreign state or institution
  • 1 under s. 13(1)(b) - information obtained in confidence from an international organization of states or an institution
  • 7 under s. 13(1)(c) - information obtained in confidence from the government of a province or institution
  • 1 under s. 13(1)(d) - information obtained in confidence from a municipal or regional government
  • 99 under s. 14 - information related to federal-provincial affairs
  • 7 under s. 14(a) - information expected to be injurious to the government’s federal-provincial affairs, specifically, federal-provincial consultations or deliberations
  • 3 under s. 14(b) - information expected to be injurious to the government’s federal-provincial affairs, specifically, strategies or tactics adopted or to be adopted by the government relating to the conduct of federal-provincial affairs
  • 146 under s. 15(1) - information related to international affairs
  • 5 under s. 16(1)(a)(i) - government records related to the detection, prevention or suppression of crime
  • 5 under s. 16(1)(a)(ii) - government records related to the enforcement of any law of Canada or a province
  • 2 under s. 16(1)(a)(iii) - government records related to activities suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada
  • 1 under s. 16(1)(b) - information relating to investigative techniques or plans for specific lawful investigations
  • 2 under s. 16(1)(c) - information related to law enforcement and investigations, including civil investigations and administrative investigations
  • 73 under s. 16(2) - information related to security methods
  • 7 under s. 16(2)(c) - information which could facilitate the commission of a crime such as the vulnerability or methods employed to protect particular buildings, structures, or systems
  • 1 under s. 16.1(1)(b) - records related to investigations by the Commissioner of Official Languages for Canada
  • 2 under s. 16.1(1)(c) - records related to investigations by the Information Commissioner
  • 1 under s. 17 - safety of individuals, including the identity of police informants and the victims of violence or acts of threats or intimidation
  • 1 under s. 18(a) - trade secrets or financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that belongs to the Government of Canada
  • 11 under s. 18(b) - information which could prejudice the competitive position of a government institution
  • 4 under s. 18(d) - information materially injurious to the financial interests of a government institution or to the economic interests of Canada
  • 342 under s. 19(1) - personal information
  • 7 under s. 20(1)(a) - trade secrets of a third party
  • 29 under s. 20(1)(b) - financial, commercial, scientific or technical information supplied to a government institution in confidence by a third party
  • 45 under s. 20(1)(c) - information that could result in material financial loss or gain to a third party
  • 8 under s. 20(1)(d) - information which could interfere with the negotiations of a third party
  • 184 under s. 21(1)(a) - advice or recommendations developed by or for a government institution or minister
  • 313 under s. 21(1)(b) - consultations or deliberations related to operations of government
  • 19 under s. 21(1)(c) - positions or plans developed for negotiations by the Government of Canada
  • 23 under s. 21(1)(d) - plans for the management of a government institution that have not yet been put into operation
  • 2 under s. 22 - information relating to testing or auditing procedures or techniques
  • 1 under s. 22.1(1) - draft internal audits less than 15 years old
  • 124 under s. 23 - information subject to solicitor-client privilege
  • 21 under s. 24(1) - information restricted by or pursuant to any provision set out in Schedule II of the ATIA

Exemptions not invoked

The following exemptions were not invoked by PCO during the 2014-2015 reporting period:

  • s. 13(1)(e) - information obtained in confidence from an aboriginal government
  • s. 15(1) Def. - information related to the defence of Canada
  • s. 15(1) S.A. - information which could compromise the prevention of subversive activities
  • s. 16(1)(d) - information the disclosure of which could compromise the security of penal institutions
  • s. 16(2)(a) - information which could facilitate the commission of a crime such as crime methods or techniques
  • s. 16(2)(b) - information which could facilitate the commission of a crime such as technical information relating to weapons or potential weapons
  • s. 16(3) - policing services of the RCMP for the provinces and the municipalities
  • s. 16.1(1)(a) - records related to investigations by the Auditor General of Canada
  • s. 16.1(1)(d) - records related to investigations by the Privacy Commissioner
  • s. 16.2(1) - records related to investigations by the Commissioner of Lobbying
  • s. 16.3 - records related to investigations under the Canada Elections Act
  • s. 16.4(1)(a) - records related to investigations under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act for the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
  • s. 16.4(1)(b) - records from a conciliator related to investigations under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act for the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner
  • s. 16.5 - records related to a disclosure under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act
  • s. 18(c) - scientific or technical information obtained through research by an officer or employee of a government institution
  • s. 18.1(1)(a) - records related to the economic interests of the Canada Post Corporation
  • s. 18.1(1)(b) - records related to the economic interests of Export Development Canada
  • s. 18.1(1)(c) - records related to the economic interests of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board
  • s. 18.1(1)(d) - records related to the economic interests of VIA Rail Canada Inc.
  • s. 20(1)(b.1) - third party information related to emergency management plans
  • s. 20.1 - third party investment information obtained by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board
  • s. 20.2 - third party investment information obtained by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
  • s. 20.4 - performance contracts with the National Arts Centre Corporation
  • s. 26 - records which will be published by a government institution within ninety days after the request is made

Exclusions cited

The total numbers of requests for which specific exclusions were cited during the 2014-2015 reporting period are as follows:

  • 25 under s. 68(a) - published material
  • 1 under s. 68.2(a) - administrative records of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
  • 1 under s. 68.2(b) - operational records of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited
  • 1 under 69(1) - confidences of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada
  • 13 under s. 69(1)(a) - memoranda to Cabinet
  • 7 under s. 69(1)(c) - agenda and records of Cabinet deliberations
  • 10 under s. 69(1)(d) - records of communication between Ministers
  • 64 under s. 69(1)(e) - records used to brief ministers of the Crown
  • 4 under s. 69(1)(f) - draft legislation
  • 48 under s. 69(1)(g) re (a) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(a)
  • 1 under s. 69(1)(g) re (b) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(b)
  • 46 under s. 69(1)(g) re (c) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(c)
  • 27 under s. 69(1)(g) re (d) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(d)
  • 43 under s. 69(1)(g) re (e) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(e)
  • 20 under s. 69(1)(g) re (f) - records that contain information about records referred to in s. 69(1)(f)

Exclusions not cited

The following exclusions were not cited by PCO during the 2014-2015 reporting period:

  • s. 68(b) - museum or library material
  • s. 68(c) - material donated to Canadian museums or archives
  • s. 68.1 - journalistic, creative or programming records of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
  • s. 69(1)(b) - discussion papers
  • s. 69.1(1) - disclosure prohibited by a certificate under the Canada Evidence Act