2012-13 Annual Reports on the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP)

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1. The Access to Information Act

July 2013

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H3

(613) 947-1698, 1-800-282-1376
Fax (613) 947-6850
TDD (613) 992-9190
Follow us on Twitter: @privacyprivee


Introduction

The Access to Information Act (ATIA) came into effect on July 1, 1983. It provides Canadian citizens, permanent residents and any person and corporation present in Canada a right of access to information contained in government records, subject to certain specific and limited exceptions.

When the Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) was added to Schedule I of the ATIA along with other Agents of Parliament. So, while not initially subject to the ATIA, the OPC became so, on April 1, 2007.

Section 72 of the ATIA requires that the head of every federal government institution submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act within their institutions during the fiscal year.

The OPC is pleased to submit its fifth Annual Report which describes how we fulfilled our responsibilities under the ATIAduring the fiscal year 2012-2013.

Mandate / Mission of the OPC

The mandate of the OPC is to oversee compliance with both the Privacy Act (PA) which covers the personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s private sector privacy law.

The OPC’s mission is to protect and promote the privacy rights of individuals.

The Commissioner works independently from any other part of the government to investigate privacy complaints from individuals with respect to the federal public sector and certain aspects of the private sector. In public sector matters, individuals may complain to the Commissioner about any matter specified in Section 29 of the PA.

For matters relating to personal information in the private sector, the Commissioner may investigate complaints under Section 11 of PIPEDA except in the provinces that have adopted substantially similar privacy legislation, namely Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta. Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador now fall into this category with respect to personal health information held by health information custodians under their health sector privacy laws. However, even in those provinces with substantially similar legislation, and elsewhere in Canada, PIPEDA continues to apply to personal information collected, used or disclosed by all federal works, undertakings and businesses, including personal information about their employees. PIPEDA also applies to all personal data that flows across provincial ornational borders, in the course of commercial activities.

The Commissioner focuses on resolving complaints through negotiation and persuasion, using mediation and conciliation if appropriate. However, if voluntary co-operation is not forthcoming, the Commissioner has the power to summon witnesses, administer oaths and compel the production of evidence. In cases that remain unresolved, particularly under PIPEDA, the complainant or the Commissioner may take the matter to Federal Court and seek a court order to rectify the situation.

As a public advocate for the privacy rights of Canadians, the Commissioner carries out the following activities:

  • Investigating complaints and issuing reports with recommendations to federal government institutions and private sector organizations to remedy situations, as appropriate;
  • Pursuing legal action before Federal Courts where appropriate to resolve outstanding matters;
  • Assessing compliance with obligations contained in the PA and PIPEDA through the conduct of independent audit and review activities;
  • Advising on, and reviewing, Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) of new and existing government initiatives;
  • Providing legal and policy analyses and expertise to help guide Parliament’s review of evolving legislation to ensure respect for individuals’ right to privacy;
  • Responding to inquiries of Parliamentarians, individual Canadians and organizations seeking information and guidance, and taking proactive steps to inform them of emerging privacy issues;
  • Promoting privacy awareness and compliance, and fostering understanding of privacy rights and obligations through: proactive engagement with federal government institutions, private-sector organizations, industry associations, legal community, academia, professional associations, and other stakeholders;
  • Preparing and disseminating public education materials, positions on evolving legislation, regulations and policies, guidance documents and fact sheets for use by the general public, federal government institutions and private sector organizations;
  • Conducting research and monitoring trends in technological advances and privacy practices, identify systemic privacy issues that need to be addressed by federal government institutions and private sector organizations and promoting integration of best practices; and
  • Working with privacy stakeholders from other jurisdictions in Canada and on the international scene to address global privacy issues that result from ever-increasing trans-border data flows.

Organizational Structure

The Privacy Commissioner is an Officer of Parliament who reports directly to the House of Commons and the Senate. The Commissioner is assisted by an Assistant Commissioner, who has delegated responsibilities under both the PA and PIPEDA.

The OPC is comprised of eight distinct branches:

Privacy Act Investigations Branch

The PA Investigations Branch receives and investigates complaints from individuals who claim a breach of the PA, or complaints that are initiated by the Commissioner. The Branch also receives notifications of breaches from federal government organizations, and receives and reviews public interest disclosures made by them. The Branch is headed by Ms. Sue Lajoie, Director General, PA Investigations.

PIPEDA Investigations Branch

The PIPEDA Investigations Branch is divided between Ottawa and Toronto. In Ottawa, the Branch receives and investigates complaints of national scope by individuals or initiated by the Commissioner, from anywhere in Canada. In Toronto, the Branch investigates complaints particularly from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and coordinates public education and stakeholder outreach activities in the GTA. The Branch is headed by Mr. Brent Homan, Director General, PIPEDA Investigations, and the Toronto Office is headed by Mr. Lorne MacDougall, Director.

Audit and Review Branch

The Audit and Review Branch audits organizations to assess their compliance with the requirements set out in the two federal privacy laws. The Branch also analyses and provides recommendations on Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) submitted to the OPC pursuant to the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Privacy Impact Assessments. The Branch is headed by Mr. Steven Morgan, Director General.

Communications Branch

The Communications Branch focuses on providing strategic advice and support for communications and public education activities for the OPC. In addition, the Branch plans and implements a variety of public education and communications activities through media monitoring and analysis, public opinion polling, media relations, publications, special events, outreach activities and the OPC web sites. The Branch is also responsible for the OPC’s Information Centre, which responds to requests for information from the public and organizations regarding privacy rights and responsibilities. The Branch is headed by Ms. Anne-Marie Hayden, Director General.

Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch

The Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch (LSPR) provides strategic legal and policy advice and conducts research on emerging privacy issues in Canada and internationally. More specifically, the Branch provides strategic legal advice to the Commissioners and various Branch Heads on the interpretation and application of the PA and PIPEDA in investigations and audits, as well as general legal counsel on a broad range of corporate and communication matters. The Branch represents the OPC in litigation matters before the courts and in negotiations with other parties both nationally and internationally. It reviews and analyzes legislative bills, government programs, public and private sector initiatives and provides strategic advice to the Commissioners on appropriate policy positions to protect and advance privacy rights in Canada. The Branch prepares for, represents and supports the office in appearances before Parliament and in its relations with Parliamentarians. The Branch conducts applied research on the privacy implications of emerging societal and technological issues to support and inform the development of OPC policy guidance and best practices for relevant stakeholders. The Branch administers the OPC Research Contribution program, which was launched in 2004, to advance knowledge and understanding of privacy issues and to promote enhanced protection of personal information. Also housed in the Branch is the OPC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Unit responsible for responding to formal requests for information from the public pursuant to the Access to Information and Privacy Acts. The ATIP Unit is also responsible for developing internal policies and ensuring compliance relative to these Acts. The Director of the ATIP Unit is also the Chief Privacy Officer for the OPC. The Branch is headed by Ms. Patricia Kosseim, Senior General Counsel and Director General.

Human Resources Management Branch

The Human Resources Management Branch is responsible for the provision of strategic advice, management and delivery of comprehensive human resource management programs in areas such as staffing, classification, staff relations, human resource planning, learning and development, employment equity, official languages and compensation. The Branch is headed by Ms. Maureen Munhall, Director.

Corporate Services Branch

The Corporate Services Branch provides advice and integrated administrative services such as corporate planning, resource management, financial management, information management/technology and general administration to managers and staff. The Branch is headed by Mr. Daniel Nadeau, Director General and Chief Financial Officer.

Technology Analysis Branch

The Technology Analysis Branch identifies and analyzes technological trends and developments in electronic platforms and digital media. The Branch conducts research to assess the impact of technology on the protection of personal information in the digital world. It also provides strategic analysis and guidance on complex, varied and sensitive technological issues involving breaches in the security of government and commercial systems that store personal information. As a corporate centre of expertise, the Branch analyzes current and emerging issues and trends in national security and public safety. The electronic media and their impact upon the privacy rights of Canadians represent another key area of interest for the Branch. The technological expertise concentrated in the Branch also supports core functions of the OPC, including audits, investigations and PIA reviews. The Branch is headed by Mr. Noël Lachance, Director.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Organizational Structure of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Organizational Chart
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

  • Privacy Commissioner
    • Executive Secretariat
    • Assistant Privacy Commissioner
      • Audit and Review Branch
      • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) Investigations Branch
      • Privacy Act Investigations Branch
      • Communications Branch
      • Technology Analysis Branch
    • Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch
    • Corporate Services Branch
    • Human Resources Management Branch

The ATIP Unit is housed within the LSPR Branch. ATIP is headed by a Director who is supported by one Senior Analyst.

Under section 73 of the ATIA the Privacy Commissioner, as the head of the OPC, has delegated her authority to the Senior General Counsel / Director General of the LSPR Branch and to the ATIP Director with respect to the application of the ATIA and its Regulations. A copy of that Delegation Order is attached as Appendix A.

The ATIP Director also serves as the OPC’s Chief Privacy Officer.

ATIP Unit Activities

In the reporting fiscal year, ATIP Training Sessions were offered to all OPC employees. The OPC had committed to training 85% of its staff by the end of 2012-2013 fiscal year. At the conclusion of the year, 95.2% of employees had participated in the training sessions. In addition to the refresher training offered to existing employees, new employees also received ATIP Awareness training tailored to highlight their responsibilities with respect to access and privacy legislation.

As the OPC is a relatively small organization, sessions are also given on an as-needed basis as well.

Throughout the year, the ATIP Unit has been active in providing advice to all OPC staff with respect to informal requests for information. ATIP has also continued to support the Information Management function by providing advice on internal information handling practices.

During the final quarter of the year, the ATIP Unit successfully implemented a paperless filing system. This will enable the division to reduce its consumption of paper and storage space. All release packages are now scanned and housed in a centralized database for ease of access. This has resulted in the division’s ability to respond more efficiently to repeat requests.

The ATIP Director has played a collaborative role in the planning, development and updating of OPC policies, procedures and directives. The ATIP Director also sits on several OPC committees; including the Policies and Priorities Working Group, the Horizontal Integration Forum and Policy Development Committee. The OPC’s recognition of the importance of integrating the ATIP Director in its core decision-making committees has ensured that the Access to Information Act is respected.

Access to Information Act Statistical Report and Interpretation

The OPC’s statistical Report on the ATIA is attached at Appendix B.

The OPC received 50 formal requests under the ATIA during the fiscal year, which is 14 less than the previous year. Of those, 20 sought access to records which were not under the control of the OPC and they were, therefore, transferred to the appropriate federal institutions for processing. The majority of transfers were made to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the Canada Revenue Agency, the Correctional Service of Canada, Health Canada, National Defence and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Requests under the ATIA

Charte of Requests under the ATIA

Requests under the ATIA

Year 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013
Received 63 64 50
Transferred 31 21 20
Processed 32 37 36

In 2012-13, the ATIP Unit responded to 30 new requests and six that were carried forward from the previous fiscal year. The 36 completed requests constituted 9,550 pages of information.

Extensions were claimed with respect to 11 requests. In all, the OPC responded to 24 requests within the first 30 days and 11 requests within the extended time period, four of which were for more than 30 days.

Of the 36 requests completed during the fiscal year, seven were for information relating to human resources, six were for copies of OPC Briefing Notes and related material, six were for the contents of PA or PIPEDA investigation files, three were for records related to Privacy Impact Assessment submissions, one was for records regarding the operation of the Privacy Commissioner ad hoc and the remainder were for miscellaneous information.

The OPC endeavors to release as much information as possible. Of the 36 requests processed, in seven cases the documents were released in their entirety. In 20 cases the OPC made partial releases and in only one instance was the information withheld entirely. Of the remaining requests, four were abandoned by the applicants and four were not processed because the records did not exist.

Section 16.1(1)(d) of the ATIA prohibits the OPC from releasing information it obtained during the course of its investigations or audits, even after the matter and all related proceedings have been concluded. The OPC, however, cannot refuse to disclose information it created during the course of an investigation or audit, once they and any related proceedings are completed – and subject to any applicable exemptions. With respect to requests for access to PA and PIPEDA investigation files, none were disclosed in their entirety—all had some information withheld under section 16.1(1)(d) and, in some cases, information was withheld under one or more of sections 19(1), 20(1)(b), 20(1)(c), 21(1)(a), 21(1)(b) and 23 as well.

As was the case in the previous reporting years, the exemption provision invoked most often was section 19(1) concerning the personal information of others, followed closely by section 16.1 with respect to information the OPC received or created during the course of an investigation and section 23 with respect to solicitor-client information. However, in other cases this year the OPC also withheld information under one or more of sections 14, 15(1), 16(1)(a), 16(1)(c), 16(2)(c), 20(1)(b), 20(1)(c), 20(1)(d), and sections 21(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the ATIA.

Of the 50 requests received this fiscal year, 28 were submitted by the public (56 %), nine by the media (18 %), eight by businesses (16 %), three by academia (6 %) and two by an organization (2 %).

The OPC was notified of five complaints under the ATIA during the fiscal year compared to 14 the previous fiscal year. Findings were issued by the Office of Information Commissioner (OIC) with respect to three complaints; in those cases the OIC concluded these complaints were “not substantiated”. The two other complaints are still ongoing.

Requests under ATIA by Source

Chart of Requests under the ATIA by Source

Requests under the ATIA by Source

Year 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013
Media 10 10 9
Business 6 21 8
Public 46 27 28
Academia 1 5 3
Organisation 0 1 2

In addition to processing its own ATIA requests, the OPC was consulted on 26 occasions on a total of 531 pages. The Canada Border Services Agency consulted us on five occasions; Industry Canada on four occasions; Public Works and Government Services Canada on four occasions; the Office of the Information Commissioner on three occasions; Passport Canada on two occasions; Public Safety on two occasions; and we were consulted once by each of the following institutions: Canadian Air Transport Security Authority; Citizenship and Immigration Canada; Health Canada; the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages; the Privy Council Office and the Treasury Board Secretariat. In 23 of the 26 cases, the OPC ATIP division recommended full disclosure of the requested records.

With respect to application fees, they amount to $145.00. None of the requests required the assessment of reproduction fees, search fees, preparation fees or computer processing time.

In most cases where records were provided, electronic copies were given to the individuals. No one asked to be given access by viewing the records.

For additional information on the OPC’s activities, please visit www.priv.gc.ca.

Additional copies of this report may be obtained from:

Director, Access to Information and Privacy
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1H3

Appendix A – Access to Information Act
Delegation Order

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, as the head of the government institution, hereby designates pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act, the persons holding the positions set out below, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the powers, duties or functions of the Privacy Commissioner as specified below and as more fully described in Annex A:

Position Sections of Access to Information Act
Senior General Counsel/Director General, Legal Services, Policy and Research

Director, ATIP
Act: 7(a), 8(1), 9, 11(2) to (6), 12(2) and (3), 13 to 24, 25, 26, 27(1) and (4), 28(1), (2) and (4), 29(1), 33, 35(2), 37(1) and (4), 43(1), 44(2), 52(2) and (3), 71(2), 72(1); and

Regulations: 6(1) and 8.

In order to ensure independence of decision-making by the Senior General Counsel/Director General, Legal Services, Policy and Research, when exercising the powers under this delegation instrument, legal advice for the institution on specific matters included herein shall be provided by the Director, Legal Services and Senior Counsel.

This delegation of authority supersedes any previous delegation of the powers, duties and functions set out herein.

Dated at the City of Ottawa, this 24th day of April, 2012.

(Original signed by)

Jennifer Stoddart
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Access to Information Act

7(a) Respond to request for access within 30 days; give access or give notice
18.1 Transfer of Request to government institution with greater interest
(9) Extend time limit for responding to request for access
11(2), (3), (4), (5), (6) Additional fees
12(2)(b) Decide whether to translate requested record
12(3) Decide whether to give access in an alternative format
13(1) Shall refuse to disclose information obtained in confidence from another government
13(2) May disclose any information referred to in 13(1) if the other government consents to the disclosure or makes the information public
14 May refuse to disclose information injurious to the conduct of federal-provincial affairs
15 May refuse to disclose information injurious to international affairs or defence
16 Series of discretionary exemptions related to law enforcement and investigations; security; and policing services for provinces or municipalities.
16.1(1) In force April 1, 2007 - Specific to four named Officers of Parliament - Auditor General, Commissioner of Official Languages, Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner - shall refuse to disclose information obtained or created by them in the course of an investigation or audit
16.1(2) In force April 1, 2007 - Specific to two named Officers of Parliament – Information and Privacy Commissioner - shall not refuse under 16.1(1) to disclose any information created by the Commissioner in the course of an investigation or audit once the investigation or audit and related proceedings are concluded
17 May refuse to disclose information which could threaten the safety of individuals
18 May refuse to disclose information related to economic interests of Canada
18.1(1) May refuse to disclose confidential commercial information of Canada Post Corporation, Export Development Canada, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, or VIA Rail Inc.
18.1(2) Shall not refuse under 18.1(1) to disclose information relating to general administration of the institution
19 Shall refuse to disclose personal information as defined in section 3 of the Privacy Act, but may disclose if individual consents, if information is publicly available, or disclosure is in accordance with section 8 of Privacy Act
20 Shall refuse to disclose third party information, subject to exceptions
21 May refuse to disclose records containing advice or recommendations
22 May refuse to disclose information relating to testing or auditing procedures
22.1 May refuse to disclose draft report of an internal audit
23 May refuse to disclose information subject to solicitor/client privilege
24 Shall refuse to disclose information where statutory prohibition (Schedule II)
25 Shall disclose any part of record that can reasonably be severed
26 May refuse to disclose where information to be published
27(1),(4) Third party notification
28(1),(2),(4) Receive representations of third party
29(1) Disclosure on recommendation of Information Commissioner
33 Advise Information Commissioner of third party involvement
35(2) Right to make representations to the Information Commissioner during an investigation
37(1) Receive Information Commissioner’s report of findings of the investigation and give notice of action taken
37(4) Give complainant access to information after 37(1)(b) notice
43(1) Notice to third party (application to Federal court for review)
44(2) Notice to applicant (application to federal Court by third party)
52(2)(b) Request that section 52 hearing be held in the National Capital Region
52(3) Request and be given right to make representations in section 51 hearings
71(2) Exempt information may be severed from manuals
72(1) Prepare annual report to Parliament

Access to Information Regulations

6(1) Procedures relating to transfer of access request to another government institution under 8(1) of the Act
8 Form of Access

Appendix B – Additional Reporting Requirements

Access to Information Act

In addition to the reporting requirements addressed in form TBS/SCT 350-62 "Report on the Access to Information Act", institutions are required to report on the following using this form:

Part III – Exemptions invoked

Paragraph 13(1)(e) not invoked
Subsection 16.1(1)(a) not invoked
Subsection 16.1(1)(b) not invoked
Subsection 16.1(1)(c) not invoked
Subsection 16.1(1)(d) This subsection was invoked in 12 requests
Subsection 16.2(1) not invoked
Subsection 16.3 not invoked
Subsection 16.4(1)(a) not invoked
Subsection 16.4(1)(b) not invoked
Subsection 16.5 not invoked
Subsection 18.1(1)(a) not invoked
Subsection 18.1(1)(b) not invoked
Subsection 18.1(1)(c) not invoked
Subsection 18.1(1)(d) not invoked
Subsection 20(1)(b.1) not invoked
Subsection 20.1 not invoked
Subsection 20.2 not invoked
Subsection 20.4 not invoked
Subsection 22.1(1) not invoked

Part IV – Exclusions cited

Subsection 68.1 not invoked
Subsection 68.2(a) not invoked
Subsection 68.2(b) not invoked
Subsection 69.1(1) not invoked

REPORT ON THE ACCESS TO INFORMATION ACT

Institution
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
Reporting period
04/01/2012 to 03/31/2013
Source Media Academia Business Organization Public
9 3 8 2 28
I Requests under the Access to Information Act
Type of request Number of requests
Received during reporting period 50
Outstanding from previous period 6
TOTAL 56
Completed during reporting period 56
Carried Forward 0
II Disposition of request completed
# Disposition of requests Number of requests
1. All Disclosed 7
2. Disclosed in part 20
3. Nothing disclosed (excluded) 0
4. Nothing disclosed (exempt) 1
5. Unable to process 20
6. Abandonned by applicant 4
7. Abandoned by applicant 4
8. Treated informally 0
  TOTAL 56
III Exemptions invoked
Section Number of times
S. 13(1)(a) 0
(b) 0

(c)

0
(d) 0
(d) 0
S. 14 2
S. 15(1)
International rel.
4
Defence 0
Subversive
activities
0
S. 16(1)(a) 1
(b) 0
(c) 2
(d) 0
S. 16(2) 3
S. 16(3) 0
S. 17 0
S. 18(a) 0
S. 18(b) 0
(c) 0
(d) 0
S. 19(1) 15
S. 20(1)(a) 0
(b) 1
(c) 2
(d) 1
S. 21(1)(a) 6
(b) 5
(c) 1
(d) 0
S. 22 0
S. 23 9
S. 24 0
S. 26 0
IV Exclusions cited
Section Number of times
S. 68(a) 0
(b) 0
(c) 0
S. 69(1)(a) 0
(b) 0
S. 69(1)(c) 0
(d) 0
(e) 0
(f) 0
(g) 1
V Completion time
Period Number of requests
30 days or under 45
31 to 60 days 7
61 to 120 days 2
121 days or over 2
VI Extentions
Type of Extensions 30 days or under 31 days or over
Searching 1 1
Consultation 6 3
Third party 0 0
TOTAL 7 4
VII Translations
Translations requested Number of requests
English to French 0
French to English 0
VIII Method of access
Method Number of requests
Copies given 27
Examination 0
Copies and examination 0
IX Fees
Net fees collected
Application fees $145.00
Preparation $0.00
Reproduction $0.00
Computer processing $0.00
Searching $0.00
TOTAL $145.00
Fees waived No. of times $
$25.00 or under 0 $0.00
Over $25.00 0 $0.00
X Costs
Financial (all reasons) Cost
Salary $174,669.69
Administration (O and M) $25,422.14
TOTAL $200,091.83
Person year utilization (all reasons)
Person year (decimal format) 2.45

TBS/SCT 350-62 (Rev. 1999/03)


2. The Privacy Act

July 2013

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H3

(613) 947-1698, 1-800-282-1376
Fax (613) 947-6850
TDD (613) 992-9190
Follow us on Twitter: @privacyprivee


Introduction

The Privacy Act came into effect On July 1, 1983. This Act imposes obligations on federal government departments and agencies to respect the privacy rights of individuals by limiting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The Act also gives individuals the right of access to their personal information and the right to request the correction of that information.

When the Federal Accountability Act received Royal Assent on December 12, 2006, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) was added to the Schedule of the Privacy Act along with other Agents of Parliament. So, while not initially subject to the Act, the OPC became so on April 1, 2007.

Section 72 of the Act requires that the head of every federal government institution submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act within their institutions during the fiscal year.

The OPC is pleased to submit its fifth Annual Report which describes how we fulfilled our responsibilities under the Privacy Act during the fiscal year 2012-2013.

Mandate / Mission of the OPC

The mandate of the OPC is to oversee compliance with both the Privacy Act (PA) which covers the personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), Canada’s private sector privacy law.

The OPC’s mission is to protect and promote the privacy rights of individuals.

The Commissioner works independently from any other part of the government to investigate privacy complaints from individuals with respect to the federal public sector and certain aspects of the private sector. In public sector matters, individuals may complain to the Commissioner about any matter specified in Section 29 of the PA.

For matters relating to personal information in the private sector, the Commissioner may investigate complaints under Section 11 of PIPEDA except in the provinces that have adopted substantially similar privacy legislation, namely Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta. Ontario, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador now fall into this category with respect to personal health information held by health information custodians under their health sector privacy laws. However, even in those provinces with substantially similar legislation, and elsewhere in Canada, PIPEDA continues to apply to personal information collected, used or disclosed by all federal works, undertakings and businesses, including personal information about their employees. PIPEDA also applies to all personal data that flows across provincial or national borders, in the course of commercial activities.

The Commissioner focuses on resolving complaints through negotiation and persuasion, using mediation and conciliation if appropriate. However, if voluntary co-operation is not forthcoming, the Commissioner has the power to summon witnesses, administer oaths and compel the production of evidence. In cases that remain unresolved, particularly under PIPEDA, the complainant or the Commissioner may take the matter to Federal Court and seek a court order to rectify the situation.

As a public advocate for the privacy rights of Canadians, the Commissioner carries out the following activities:

  • Investigating complaints and issuing reports with recommendations to federal government institutions and private sector organizations to remedy situations, as appropriate;
  • Pursuing legal action before Federal Courts where appropriate to resolve outstanding matters;
  • Assessing compliance with obligations contained in the PA and PIPEDA through the conduct of independent audit and review activities;
  • Advising on, and reviewing, Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) of new and existing government initiatives;
  • Providing legal and policy analyses and expertise to help guide Parliament’s review of evolving legislation to ensure respect for individuals’ right to privacy;
  • Responding to inquiries of Parliamentarians, individual Canadians and organizations seeking information and guidance, and taking proactive steps to inform them of emerging privacy issues;
  • Promoting privacy awareness and compliance, and fostering understanding of privacy rights and obligations through: proactive engagement with federal government institutions, private-sector organizations, industry associations, legal community, academia, professional associations, and other stakeholders;
  • Preparing and disseminating public education materials, positions on evolving legislation, regulations and policies, guidance documents and fact sheets for use by the general public, federal government institutions and private sector organizations;
  • Conducting research and monitoring trends in technological advances and privacy practices, identify systemic privacy issues that need to be addressed by federal government institutions and private sector organizations and promoting integration of best practices; and
  • Working with privacy stakeholders from other jurisdictions in Canada and on the international scene to address global privacy issues that result from ever-increasing trans-border data flows.

Organizational Structure

The Privacy Commissioner is an Officer of Parliament who reports directly to the House of Commons and the Senate. The Commissioner is assisted by an Assistant Commissioner, who has delegated responsibilities under both the PA and PIPEDA.

The OPC is comprised of eight distinct branches:

Privacy Act Investigations Branch

The PA Investigations Branch receives and investigates complaints from individuals who claim a breach of the PA, or complaints that are initiated by the Commissioner. The Branch also receives notifications of breaches from federal government organizations, and receives and reviews public interest disclosures made by them. The Branch is headed by Ms. Sue Lajoie, Director General, PA Investigations.

PIPEDA Investigations Branch

The PIPEDA Investigations Branch is divided between Ottawa and Toronto. In Ottawa, the Branch receives and investigates complaints of national scope by individuals or initiated by the Commissioner, from anywhere in Canada. In Toronto, the Branch investigates complaints particularly from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and coordinates public education and stakeholder outreach activities in the GTA. The Branch is headed by Mr. Brent Homan, Director General, PIPEDA Investigations, and the Toronto Office is headed by Mr. Lorne MacDougall, Director.

Audit and Review Branch

The Audit and Review Branch audits organizations to assess their compliance with the requirements set out in the two federal privacy laws. The Branch also analyses and provides recommendations on Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) submitted to the OPC pursuant to the Treasury Board Secretariat Policy on Privacy Impact Assessments. The Branch is headed by Mr. Steven Morgan, Director General.

Communications Branch

The Communications Branch focuses on providing strategic advice and support for communications and public education activities for the OPC. In addition, the Branch plans and implements a variety of public education and communications activities through media monitoring and analysis, public opinion polling, media relations, publications, special events, outreach activities and the OPC web sites. The Branch is also responsible for the OPC’s Information Centre, which responds to requests for information from the public and organizations regarding privacy rights and responsibilities. The Branch is headed by Ms. Anne-Marie Hayden, Director General.

Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch

The Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch (LSPR) provides strategic legal and policy advice and conducts research on emerging privacy issues in Canada and internationally. More specifically, the Branch provides strategic legal advice to the Commissioners and various Branch Heads on the interpretation and application of the PA and PIPEDA in investigations and audits, as well as general legal counsel on a broad range of corporate and communication matters. The Branch represents the OPC in litigation matters before the courts and in negotiations with other parties both nationally and internationally. It reviews and analyzes legislative bills, government programs, public and private sector initiatives and provides strategic advice to the Commissioners on appropriate policy positions to protect and advance privacy rights in Canada. The Branch prepares for, represents and supports the office in appearances before Parliament and in its relations with Parliamentarians. The Branch conducts applied research on the privacy implications of emerging societal and technological issues to support and inform the development of OPC policy guidance and best practices for relevant stakeholders. The Branch administers the OPC Research Contribution program, which was launched in 2004, to advance knowledge and understanding of privacy issues and to promote enhanced protection of personal information. Also housed in the Branch is the OPC Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Unit responsible for responding to formal requests for information from the public pursuant to the Access to Information and Privacy Acts. The ATIP Unit is alsoresponsible for developing internal policies and ensuring compliance relative to these Acts. The Director of the ATIP Unit is also the Chief Privacy Officer for the OPC. The Branch is headed by Ms. Patricia Kosseim, Senior General Counsel and Director General.

Human Resources Management Branch

The Human Resources Management Branch is responsible for the provision of strategic advice, management and delivery of comprehensive human resource management programs in areas such as staffing, classification, staff relations, human resource planning, learning and development, employment equity, official languages and compensation. The Branch is headed by Ms. Maureen Munhall, Director.

Corporate Services Branch

The Corporate Services Branch provides advice and integrated administrative services such as corporate planning, resource management, financial management, information management/technology and general administration to managers and staff. The Branch is headed by Mr. Daniel Nadeau, Director General and Chief Financial Officer.

Technology Analysis Branch

The Technology Analysis Branch identifies and analyzes technological trends and developments in electronic platforms and digital media. The Branch conducts research to assess the impact of technology on the protection of personal information in the digital world. It also provides strategic analysis and guidance on complex, varied and sensitive technological issues involving breaches in the security of government and commercial systems that store personal information. As a corporate centre of expertise, the Branch analyzes current and emerging issues and trends in national security and public safety. The electronic media and their impact upon the privacy rights of Canadians represent another key area of interest for the Branch. The technological expertise concentrated in the Branch also supports core functions of the OPC, including audits, investigations and PIA reviews. The Branch is headed by Mr. Noël Lachance, Director.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Organizational Structure of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Organizational Chart
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

  • Privacy Commissioner
    • Executive Secretariat
    • Assistant Privacy Commissioner
      • Audit and Review Branch
      • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) Investigations Branch
      • Privacy Act Investigations Branch
      • Communications Branch
      • Technology Analysis Branch
    • Legal Services, Policy and Research Branch
    • Corporate Services Branch
    • Human Resources Management Branch

The ATIP Unit is housed within the LSPR Branch. ATIP is headed by a Director who is supported by one Senior Analyst.

Under section 73 of the PA the Privacy Commissioner, as the head of the OPC, has delegated her authority to the Senior General Counsel and Director General of the LSPR Branch and to the ATIP Director with respect to the application of the Act and its Regulations. With respect to public interest disclosures under section 8(2)(m) of the Act, the Commissioner has delegated her authority to the Assistant Commissioner for those decisions. A copy of the Delegation Order is attached as Appendix A.

The ATIP Director also serves as the OPC’s Chief Privacy Officer.

Privacy Commissioner, Ad Hoc / Complaint Mechanism

Given the silence of the Federal Accountability Act with respect to an independent mechanism under which PA complaints against the OPC would be investigated, we have developed an alternative mechanism to investigate OPC actions with respect to its administration of the Act.

For this purpose, the Commissioner has delegated her powers, duties and functions as set out in sections 29 through 35 and section 42 of the Act to a Privacy Commissioner Ad Hoc in order to investigate PA complaints lodged against the OPC.

The current Privacy Commissioner, Ad Hoc is Mr. John H. Sims. Mr. Sims is a member of the Ontario Bar, and retired from the Public Service of Canada on April 2, 2010 after 32 years, five as Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney General of Canada. Throughout his career, Mr. Sims has been recognized for outstanding achievements, high standards of ethical and professional conduct, excellence in leadership and preeminent public service. In 2010, the Prime Minister presented Mr. Sims with the prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada.

ATIP Unit Activities

In the reporting fiscal year, ATIP Training Sessions were offered to all OPC employees. The OPC had committed to training 85% of its staff by the end of 2012-2013 fiscal year. At the conclusion of the year, 95.2% of employees had participated in the training sessions. In addition to the refresher training offered to existing employees, new employees also received ATIP Awareness training tailored to highlight their responsibilities with respect to access and privacy legislation.

As the OPC is a relatively small organization, sessions are also given on an as-needed basis as well.

Throughout the year the ATIP Unit has been active in providing advice to all OPC staff with respect to informal requests for information. ATIP has also continued to support the Information Management function by providing input concerning proper information handling practices.

During the final quarter of the year, the ATIP Unit successfully implemented a paperless filing system. This will enable the division to reduce its consumption of paper and storage space. All release packages are now scanned and housed in a centralized database for ease of access. This has resulted in the division’s ability to respond more efficiently to repeat requests.

The ATIP Director has played a collaborative role in the planning, development and updating of OPC policies, procedures and directives. The ATIP Director also sits on several OPC committees; including the Policy and Priorities Working Group, the Horizontal Integration Forum and Policy Development Committee. The OPC’s recognition of the importance to integrate the ATIP Director in its core decision-making committees has ensured that the Privacy Act is respected. In addition to the participation in these committees during the reporting year, the OPC created the Privacy Accountability Working Group; which the ATIP Director serves as chair. This working group is comprised of representatives from every branch of the organization. Its purpose is to promote a culture of privacy protection and awareness across the organization, ensure accountability for handling of personal information across the OPC, ensure that OPC’s internally-led initiatives are held to the same privacy-protective standards that are expected of the organizations and institutions that the OPC regulates; and that all initiatives involving collection, use and disclosure of personal information within the OPC are brought to the attention of the organization’s Chief Privacy Officer.

Privacy Act Statistical Report and Interpretation

The OPC received 61 formal requests under the PA for the fiscal year. However, the vast majority of those requests—44 of them—sought access to personal information under the control of other government institutions. They were therefore re-directed for processing to those institutions, including to the Correctional Service Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, National Defense, Canada Border Services Agency and the RCMP.

Requests under the Privacy Act

Chart of Requests under the Privacy Act

Requests under the Privacy Act

Year 2010/2011 2011/2012 2012/2013
Received 105 79 61
Transferred 90 68 44
Processed 14 14 17

During the last reporting year, the OPC received 11 PA requests for personal information under our control and we processed some 14,375 pages of information. This fiscal year, we responded to 12 such requests; which comprised 5,342 pages – one of the requests processed was carried over from the previous reporting year. All requests were submitted by the individual themselves.

No extensions of time limits were claimed on any of the requests processed this fiscal year.

Three requests were carried over to the next fiscal year.

The OPC closed 15 PA requests during the reporting period.

  • Information was partially disclosed in eight instances;
  • In two instances, no records existed that responded to the requests;
  • Information was exempted entirely in two instances;
  • In three instances, the requests were abandoned by the requester.

Nine requests were for the contents of PA or PIPEDA investigation files. In eight instances, our investigations and all related proceedings were closed; therefore, the information in those files was processed and released to the requesters subject to applicable exemptions. In seven of the cases, some information was withheld under section 22.1(1).

Section 22.1 of the PA prohibits the OPC from releasing information it obtained during the course of its investigations or audits even after the matter and all related proceedings have been concluded. The OPC however cannot refuse to disclose information it created during the course of an investigation or audit, once they and any related proceedings are completed – and subject to any applicable exemptions. This exemption was applied in nine cases during the reporting period. With respect to other exemptions, section 26 was claimed in six cases and section 27 in one.

No requests were received for correction of personal information held within the OPC.

The OPC received one complaint against it under the PA in this reporting year. This complaint is presently under investigation by the Privacy Commissioner ad hoc.

Finally, the OPC received four consultations from other federal institutions this fiscal year.

Report on the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) Policy

The Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment which came into effect on April 1, 2010, requires that the Treasury Board Secretariat monitor compliance with the Directive. Given this responsibility, institutions are asked to include pertinent statistics in their annual reports on the administration of the PA.

In 2012-2013 the OPC initiated two PIAs. At the conclusion of the reporting year, both PIAs were still in the process of being drafted. It is anticipated that they will be completed for the next reporting year.

Data Sharing Activities

The OPC did not undertake any personal data sharing activities this reporting year.

Disclosures of Personal Information

The OPC disclosed no personal information under sections 8(2)(e), (f), (g) or (m) of the PA during this fiscal year

Privacy-Related Policies

Following an internal Privacy control self-assessment, the OPC produced three privacy related instruments:

  • Process and Guidelines for handling permissible disclosures of personal information without consent under subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act.
  • OPC Privacy Protocol for Non-Administrative Use of Personal Information.
  • Guidelines on Accuracy of Personal Information

The ATIP Director is a member of the OPC’s Policy Development Committee. In that role, policies, directives and guidelines have been and continue to be reviewed to ensure that the PA is respected.

For additional information on the OPC’s activities, please visit www.priv.gc.ca

Additional copies of this report may be obtained from:

Director, Access to Information and Privacy
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 1H3

Appendix A – Privacy Act
Delegation Order

The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, as the head of the government institution, hereby designates pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act, the persons holding the positions set out below, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the powers, duties or functions of the Privacy Commissioner as specified below and as more fully described in Annex A:

Position Sections of Privacy Act
Privacy Commissioner

Assistant Privacy Commissioner
8(2)(m)
Senior General Counsel/Director General, Legal Services, Policy and Research

Director, ATIP
Act: 8(2)(j), 8(4) and (5), 9(1) and (4), 10, 14, 15, 17(2)(b) and (3)(b),18 to 28, 31, 33(2), 35(1) and (4), 36(3), 37(3), 51(2)(b) and (3), 72(1)

Regulations: 9, 11(2) and (4), 13(1), 14

In order to ensure independence of decision-making by the Senior General Counsel/Director General, Legal Services, Policy and Research, when exercising the powers under this delegation instrument, legal advice for the institution on specific matters included herein shall be provided by the Director, Legal Services and Senior Counsel.

This delegation of authority supersedes any previous delegation of the powers, duties and functions set out herein.

Dated at the City of Ottawa, this 24th day of April, 2012.

(Original signed by)

Jennifer Stoddart
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Privacy Act

8(2)(j) Disclose personal information for research purposes
8(2)(m) Disclose personal information in the public interest or in the interest of the individual
8(4) Retain copy of 8(2)(e) requests and disclosed records
8(5) Notify Privacy Commissioner of 8(2)(m) disclosures
9(1) Retain record of use
9(4) Notify Privacy Commissioner of consistent use and amend index
10 Include personal information in personal information banks
14 Respond to request for access within 30 days; give access or give notice
15 Extend time limit for responding to request for access
17(2)(b) Decide whether to translate requested information
17(3)(b) Decide whether to give access in an alternative format
18(2) May refuse to disclose information contained in an exempt bank
19(1) Shall refuse to disclose information obtained in confidence from another government
19(2) May disclose any information referred to in 19(1) if the other government consents to the disclosure or makes the information public
20 May refuse to disclose information injurious to the conduct of federal-provincial affairs
21 May refuse to disclose information injurious to international affairs or defence
22 Series of discretionary exemptions related to law enforcement and investigations; and policing services for provinces or municipalities.
22.1(1) In force April 1, 2007 - Privacy Commissioner shall refuse to disclose information obtained or created in the course of an investigation conducted by the Commissioner
22.1(2) In force April 1, 2007 - Privacy Commissioner shall not refuse under 22.1(1) to disclose any information created by the Commissioner in the course of an investigation conducted by the Commissioner once the investigation and related proceedings are concluded
23 May refuse to disclose information prepared by an investigative body for security clearances
24 May refuse to disclose information collected by the Correctional Service of Canada or the National Parole Board while individual was under sentence if conditions in section are met
25 May refuse to disclose information which could threaten the safety of individuals
26 May refuse to disclose information about another individual, and shall refuse to disclose such information where disclosure is prohibited under section 8
27 May refuse to disclose information subject to solicitor-client privilege
28 May refuse to disclose information relating to the individual’s physical or mental health where disclosure is contrary to best interests of the individual
31 Receive notice of investigation by Privacy Commissioner
33(2) Right to make representations to the Privacy Commissioner during an investigation
35(1) Receive Privacy Commissioner’s report of findings of the investigation and give notice of action taken
35(4) Give complainant access to information after 35(1)(b) notice
36(3) Receive Privacy Commissioner’s report of findings of investigation of exempt bank
37(3) Receive report of Privacy Commissioner’s findings after compliance investigation
51(2)(b) Request that section 51 hearing be held in the National Capital Region
51(3) Request and be given right to make representations in section 51 hearings
72(1) Prepare annual report to Parliament

Privacy Regulations

9 Provide reasonable facilities to examine information
11(2) and (4) Procedures for correction or notation of information
13(1) Disclosure of information relating to physical or mental health to qualified practitioner or psychologist
14 Require individual to examine information in presence of qualified practitioner or psychologist

Appendix B – Additional Reporting Requirements

Privacy Act

Treasury Board Secretariat is monitoring compliance with the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) Policy (which came into effect on May 2, 2002) and the Directive on Privacy Impact Assessment (which takes effect April 1, 2010) through a variety of means. Institutions are therefore required to report the following information for this reporting period. Note that because some institutions are using the Core PIA as outlined in the Directive in advance of the implementation deadline, they will not have Preliminary PIAs to report.

Indicate the number of:

  • Preliminary PIAs initiated: 0
  • Preliminary PIAs completed: 0
  • PIAs initiated: 2
  • PIAs completed: 0
  • PIAs forwarded to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC): 0

**No PIAs were completed during the reporting period

Part III – Exemptions invoked

Paragraph 19(1)(e) not invoked
Paragraph 19(1)(f) not invoked
Subsection 22.1 This exemption was invoked in nine files
Subsection 22.2 not invoked
Subsection 22.3 not invoked

Part IV – Exclusions cited

Subsection 69.1 not invoked
Subsection 70.1 not invoked

Note: If your institution did not invoke any exemptions or cite any exclusion noted above during the reporting period, this must be stated explicitly.

REPORT ON THE PRIVACY ACT

Institution: Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Reporting period: 04/01/2012 to 03/31/2013

I Requests under the Privacy Act
Type of request Number of requests
Received during reporting period 17
Outstanding from previous period 1
TOTAL 18
Completed during reporting period 15
Carried Forward 3
II Disposition of request completed
Disposition of requests Number of requests
1. All Disclosed 0
2. Disclosed in part 8
3. Nothing disclosed (excluded) 0
4. Nothing disclosed (exempt) 2
5. Unable to process 2
6. Abandonned by applicant 3
TOTAL 15
III Exemptions invoked
Section Number of times
S.18(2) 0
S.
19(1)(a)
0
(b) 0
(c) 0
(d) 0
S.
20
0
S.
21
0
S. / Art. 22(1)(a) 0
(b) 0
(c) 0
S. / Art. 22(2) 0
S. / Art. 23(a) 0
(b) 0
S. / Art. 24 0
S. / Art. 25 0
S. / Art. 26 6
S. / Art. 27 1
S. / Art. 28 0
IV Exclusions cited
Section Number of times
S.
69(1)(a)
0
(b) 0
S.
70(1)(a)
0
(b) 0
(c) 0
(d) 0
(e) 0
(f) 0
V Completion time
Period Number of requests
30 days or under 12
31 to 60 days 0
61 to 120 days 0
121 days or over 0
VI Extentions
Type of Extensions 30 days or under 31 days or over
Interference with operations 0 0
Consultation 0 0
Translation 0 0
TOTAL 0 0
VII Translations
Translations requested Number of requests
English to French 0
French to English 0
VIII Method of access
Method Number of requests
Copies given 8
Examination 0
Copies and examination 0
IX Corrections and notation
Corrections Number of requests
Copies given 0
Examination 0
Copies and examination 0
X Costs
Financial (all reasons) Cost
Salary $37,827.76
Administration (O and M) $0.00
TOTAL $37,827.76
Person year utilization (all reasons)
Person year (decimal format) 0.55

TBS/SCT 350-63 (Rev. 1999/03)

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