Audited Financial Statements 2011-2012

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada


Statement of Management Responsibility Including Internal Control over Financial Reporting

Responsibility for the integrity and objectivity of the accompanying financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2012 and all information contained in these statements rests with the management of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada ("The Office"). These financial statements have been prepared by management using the Government's accounting policies, which are based on Canadian public sector accounting standards.

Management is responsible for the integrity and objectivity of the information in these financial statements. Some of the information in the financial statements is based on management's best estimates and judgment, and gives due consideration to materiality. To fulfill its accounting and reporting responsibilities, management maintains a set of accounts that provides a centralized record of the Office’s financial transactions. Financial information submitted in the preparation of the Public Accounts of Canada, and included in the Office’s Departmental Performance Report, is consistent with these financial statements.

Management is also responsible for maintaining an effective system of internal control over financial reporting (ICFR) designed to provide reasonable assurance that financial information is reliable, that assets are safeguarded and that transactions are properly authorized and recorded in accordance with the Financial Administration Act and other applicable legislation, regulations, authorities and policies.

Management seeks to ensure the objectivity and integrity of data in its financial statements through careful selection, training and development of qualified staff; through organizational arrangements that provide appropriate divisions of responsibility; through communication programs aimed at ensuring that regulations, policies, standards, and managerial authorities are understood throughout the Office and through conducting an annual risk-based assessment of the effectiveness of the system of ICFR.

The system of ICFR is designed to mitigate risks to a reasonable level based on an ongoing process to identify key risks, to assess effectiveness of associated key controls, and to make any necessary adjustments.

A risk-based assessment of the system of ICFR for the year ended March 31, 2012 was completed in accordance with the Treasury Board Policy on Internal Control and the results and action plans are summarized in the annex.

The effectiveness and adequacy of the Office's system of internal control was reviewed by the Internal Audit Committee, which oversees management's responsibilities for maintaining adequate control systems and the quality of financial reporting, and which recommends the financial statements to the Commissioner.

The Office of the Auditor General, the independent auditor for the Government of Canada has expressed an opinion on the fair presentation of the financial statements of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada which does not include an audit opinion on the annual assessment of the effectiveness of the Office's internal controls over financial reporting.

(Original signed by)

Jennifer Stoddart
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

(Original signed by)

Daniel Nadeau, CPA, CGA
Director General, Corporate Services and
Chief Financial Officer

Ottawa, Canada
July 26th, 2012


Independent Auditor’s Report

To the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate

Report on the Financial Statements

I have audited the accompanying financial statements of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, which comprise the statement of financial position as at 31 March 2012, and the statement of operations and net financial position, statement of change in net debt and statement of cash flows for the year then ended, and a summary of significant accounting policies and other explanatory information.

Management’s Responsibility for the Financial Statements

Management is responsible for the preparation and fair presentation of these financial statements in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards, and for such internal control as management determines is necessary to enable the preparation of financial statements that are free from material misstatement, whether due to fraud or error.

Auditor’s Responsibility

My responsibility is to express an opinion on these financial statements based on my audit. I conducted my audit in accordance with Canadian generally accepted auditing standards. Those standards require that I comply with ethical requirements and plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free from material misstatement.

An audit involves performing procedures to obtain audit evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements. The procedures selected depend on the auditor’s judgment, including the assessment of the risks of material misstatement of the financial statements, whether due to fraud or error. In making those risk assessments, the auditor considers internal control relevant to the entity’s preparation and fair presentation of the financial statements in order to design audit procedures that are appropriate in the circumstances, but not for the purpose of expressing an opinion on the effectiveness of the entity’s internal control. An audit also includes evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies used and the reasonableness of accounting estimates made by management, as well as evaluating the overall presentation of the financial statements.

I believe that the audit evidence I have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for my audit opinion.

Opinion

In my opinion, the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada as at 31 March 2012, and the results of its operations, changes in its net debt, and its cash flows for the year then ended in accordance with Canadian public sector accounting standards.

Report on Other Legal and Regulatory Requirements

In my opinion, the transactions of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that have come to my notice during my audit of the financial statements have, in all significant respects, been in accordance with the Financial Administration Act and regulations, and the Privacy Act.

(Original signed by)

Michael Ferguson, FCA
Auditor General of Canada

26 July 2012
Ottawa, Canada


Statement of Financial Position

As at March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2012 2011
Restated (note 10)
Liabilities
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities (Note 5) $2,721 $3,392
Accrued employee salaries 372 285
Vacation pay and compensatory leave 555 508
Employee future benefits (Note 4) 1,738 2,650
Total liabilities 5,386 6,835
Financial assets
Due from the Consolidated Revenue Fund 2,594 3,004
Accounts receivable and advances (Note 6) 404 619
Total financial assets 2,998 3,623
NET DEBT 2,388 3,212
Non-financial assets
Prepaid expenses 83 124
Tangible capital assets (Note 7) 1,402 1,674
Total non-financial assets 1,485 1,798
NET FINANCIAL POSITION $ (903) $ (1,414)
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.

Approved by:

(Original signed by)

Jennifer Stoddart
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

(Original signed by)

Daniel Nadeau, CPA, CGA
Director General, Corporate Services and
Chief Financial Officer

Ottawa, Canada
July 26th, 2012


Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position

For the year ended March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2012
Planned results
2012 2011
Restated
(note 10)
Segmented information (note 9)
 
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.
Expenses
Compliance $12,031 $13,142 $11,131
Research & Policy Development 3,818 4,417 3,721
Public Outreach 4,316 3,355 3,612
Internal Services 7,645 7,509 6,348
Cost of operations before government funding 27,810 28,423 24,812
 
Government funding
Net cash provided by Government   26,448 21,359
Change in due from Consolidated Revenue Fund   (410) 1,295
Services provided without charge by other government departments (note 8)   2,896 2,505
Cost of operations after government funding   (511) (347)
 
Net financial position - Beginning of year   $(1,414) $(1,761)
Net financial position - End of year   $(903) $(1,414)
 

Statement of Change in Net Debt

For the year ended March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2012 2011
Restated (note 10)
Cost of operations after government funding $(511) $(347)
Change due to tangible capital assets
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 303 867
Amortization of tangible capital assets (566) (454)
Net loss on disposal of tangible capital assets including adjustments (9) (95)
Total change due to tangible capital assets (272) 318
Change due to prepaid expenses (41) 12
Net decrease in net debt (824) (17)
Net debt - Beginning of year 3,212 3,229
Net debt - End of year $2,388 $3,212
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.

Statement of Cash Flows

For the year ended March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2012 2011
Restated (Note 10)
Operating activities
Cost of operations before government funding $28,423 $24,812
Non-cash items:
Amortization of tangible capital assets (566) (454)
Loss on disposal of tangible capital assets (9) (95)
Services provided without charge by other government departments (Note 8) (2,896) (2,505)
Variations in Statement of Financial Position:
Increase (decrease) in accounts receivable and advances (215) 385
Increase (decrease) in prepaid expenses (41) 12
Decrease (increase) in liabilities 1,449 (1,663)
Cash used in operating activities 26,145 20,492
Capital activities
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 303 867
Cash used in capital activities 303 867
Net cash provided by Government of Canada $26,448 $21,359
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.

Notes to the Financial Statements

1. Authority and objectives

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (the Office), was created under the Privacy Act, which came into force on July 1, 1983. The Privacy Commissioner is an independent officer of Parliament appointed by the Governor-in-Council following approval of her nomination by resolution of the Senate and the House of Commons. The Office is listed under Schedule I.1 of the Financial Administration Act and is funded through annual appropriations. The Commissioner is accountable for, and reports directly to Parliament on the results achieved.

The Program Activities of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada are:

  • Program Activity 1 - Compliance activities: The Office is responsible for investigating privacy-related complaints and responding to inquiries from individuals and organizations. Through audits and reviews, the Office also assesses how well organizations are complying with requirements set out in the two federal privacy laws, and provides recommendations on Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) pursuant to Treasury Board Secretariat policy. This activity is supported by a legal team that provides specialized legal advice and litigation support, and a research team with senior technical and risk-assessment support.
  • Program Activity 2 - Research and Policy Development: The Office serves as a centre of expertise on emerging privacy issues in Canada and abroad by researching trends and technological developments, monitoring legislative and regulatory initiatives, providing legal, policy and technical analyses on key issues, and developing policy positions that advance the protection of privacy rights. An important part of the work involves supporting the Commissioner and senior officials in providing advice to Parliament on potential privacy implications of proposed legislation, government programs, and private-sector initiatives.
  • Program Activity 3 - Public Outreach: The Office delivers public education and communications activities, including speaking engagements and special events, media relations, and the production and dissemination of promotional and educational material. Through public outreach activities, individuals have access to information about privacy and personal data protection that enable them to protect themselves and exercise their rights. The activities also allow organizations to understand their obligations under federal privacy legislation.
  • Program Activity 4 - Internal Services: Internal Services are groups of related activities and resources that support the needs of programs and other corporate obligations of an organization. As a small entity, the Office's internal services include two sub-activities: governance and management support, and resource management services (which also incorporate asset management services). Given the specific mandate of the Office, communications services are not included in Internal Services but rather form part of Program Activity 3 - Public Outreach. Similarly, legal services are excluded from Internal Services at the Office, given the legislated requirement to pursue court action under the two federal privacy laws. Legal services form part of Program Activity 1 - Compliance Activities, and Program Activity 2 - Research and Policy Development.

The objectives of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada are:

  • investigating complaints and conducting audits;
  • publishing information about personal information-handling practices in the public and private sectors;
  • conducting research into privacy issues; and
  • promoting awareness and understanding of privacy issues by the Canadian public.

2. Summary of significant accounting policies

These financial statements have been prepared using the Government's accounting policies stated below, which are based on Canadian public sector accounting standards. The presentation and results using the stated accounting policies do not result in any significant differences from Canadian public sector accounting standards.

Significant accounting policies are as follows:

(a) Parliamentary authorities
The Office is financed by the Government of Canada through Parliamentary authorities. Financial reporting of authorities provided to the the Office do not parallel financial reporting according to generally accepted accounting principles since authorities are primarily based on cash flow requirements. Consequently, items recognized in the Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position and in the Statement of Financial Position are not necessarily the same as those provided through authorities from Parliament. Note 3 provides a reconciliation between the bases of reporting. The planned results amounts in the Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position are the amounts reported in the future-oriented financial statements included in the 2011-2012 Report on Plans and Priorities.

(b) Net cash provided by Government
The Office operates within the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), which is administered by the Receiver General for Canada. All cash received by the Office is deposited to the CRF and all cash disbursements made by the Office are paid from the CRF. The net cash provided by Government is the difference between all cash receipts and all cash disbursements, including transactions between departments of the Government.

(c) Due from the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF)
Amounts due from or to the CRF are the result of timing differences at year-end between when a transaction affects authorities and when it is processed through the CRF. Amounts due from the CRF represent the net amount of cash that the Office is entitled to draw from the CRF without further authorities to discharge its liabilities.

(d) Expenses
Expenses are recorded on the accrual basis:

  • Transfer payments are recorded as expenses when authorization for the payment exists and the recipient has met the eligibility criteria or the entitlements established for the transfer payment program. In situations where payments do not form part of an existing program, transfer payments are recorded as expenses when the Government announces a decision to make a non-recurring transfer, provided the enabling legislation or authorization for payment receives parliamentary approval prior to the completion of the financial statements. Transfer payments that become repayable as a result of conditions specified in the contribution agreement that have come into being are recorded as a reduction to transfer payment expense and as a receivable.
  • Vacation pay and compensatory leave are accrued as the benefits are earned by employees under their respective terms of employment.
  • Services provided without charge by other government departments for accommodation, employer contributions to the health and dental insurance plans, payroll services and audit services are recorded as operating expenses at their estimated cost.

(e) Employee future benefits

  1. Pension benefits: Eligible employees participate in the Public Service Pension Plan, a multi-employer pension plan administered by the Government of Canada. The Office’s contributions to the Plan are charged to expenses in the year incurred and represent the total bligation to the Plan. The Office’s responsibility with regard to the Plan is limited to its contributions. Actuarial surpluses or deficiencies are recognized in the financial statements of the Government of Canada, as the Plan’s sponsor.
  2. Severance benefits: Employees entitled to severance benefits under labour contracts or conditions of employment earn these benefits as services necessary to earn them are rendered. The obligation relating to the benefits earned by employees is calculated using information derived from the results of the actuarially determined liability for employee severance benefits for the Government as a whole.

(f) Accounts receivable and advances
Accounts receivable and advances are stated at the lower of cost and net recoverable value. A valuation allowance is recorded for accounts receivable where recovery is considered uncertain.

(g) Tangible capital assets
All tangible capital assets and leasehold improvements having an initial cost of $2,500 or more are recorded at their acquisition cost. The Office does not capitalize intangible assets.

Amortization of tangible capital assets is done on a straight-line basis over the estimated useful life of the asset as follows:

Asset Class Amortization Period
Machinery and equipment 3 years
Informatics hardware 3 years
Computer software 3 years
Other equipment 10 years
Leasehold improvements Lesser of the remaining term of the lease or useful life of the improvement

(h) Measurement uncertainty
The preparation of these financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses reported in the financial statements. At the time of preparation of these statements, management believes the estimates and assumptions to be reasonable. The most significant items where estimates are used are the liability for employee future benefits and the useful life of tangible capital assets. Actual results could significantly differ from those estimated. Management’s estimates are reviewed periodically and, as adjustments become necessary, they are recorded in the financial statements in the year they become known.

3. Parliamentary authorities

The Office receives most of its funding through annual parliamentary authorities. Items recognized in the Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position and the Statement of Financial Position in one year may be funded through parliamentary authorities in prior, current or future years. Accordingly, the Office has different net results of operations for the year on a government funding basis than on an accrual accounting basis. The differences are reconciled in the following tables:

(a) Reconciliation of cost of operations before government funding to current year authorities used:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Cost of operations before government funding $28,423 $24,812
Adjustments for items affecting net cost of operations but not affecting authorities:
Services provided without charge by other government departments (2,896) (2,505)
Amortization of tangible capital assets (566) (454)
Adjustment of Previous year's accrued liabilities 74 56
Increase (decrease) in vacation pay and compensatory leave (47) 82
Increase in employee future benefits 912 33
Other (53) (78)
  25,847 21,946
Adjustments for items not affecting net cost of operations but affecting authorities:
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 303 867
Increase (decrease) in prepaid expenses (41) 12
  262 879
Current year authorities used $26,109 $22,825

(b) Appropriations provided and used:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Authorities provided:
Vote 45 - Program expenditures $ 24,530 $ 22,215
Statutory amounts 2,347 1,998
Less: 26,877 24,213
Lapsed: Operating (768) (1,388)
Current year authorities used $26,109 $22,825

4. Employee future benefits

(a) Pension benefits
The Office’s employees participate in the Public Service Pension Plan, which is sponsored and administered by the Government of Canada. Pension benefits accrue up to a maximum period of 35 years at a rate of 2 percent per year of pensionable service, times the average of the best five consecutive years of earnings. The benefits are integrated with Canada/Québec Pension Plan benefits and they are indexed to inflation.

Both the employees and the Office contribute to the cost of the Plan. The 2011-12 expense amounts to $1,687,849 ($1,402,886 in 2010-11), which represents approximately 1.8 times (1.9 in 2010-11) the contributions by employees.

The Office’s responsibility with regard to the Plan is limited to its contributions. Actuarial surpluses or deficiencies are recognized in the financial statements of the Government of Canada, as the Plan’s sponsor.

(b) Severance benefits
The Office provides severance benefits to its employees based on eligibility, years of service and salary at termination of employment. These severance benefits are not pre-funded. Benefits will be paid from future authorities. Information about the severance benefits, measured as at March 31, is as follows:

As part of collective agreement negotiations with certain employee groups, and changes to conditions of employment for executives and certain non-represented employees, the accumulation of severance benefits under the employee severance pay program ceased for these employees commencing in 2012. Employees subject to these changes have been given the option to be immediately paid the full or partial value of benefits earned to date or collect the full or remaining value of benefits on termination from the public service. These changes have been reflected in the calculation of the outstanding severance benefit obligation.

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Accrued benefit obligation, beginning of year $2,650 $2,683
Expense for the year 276 295
Benefits paid during the year (1,188) (328)
Accrued benefit obligation, end of year $1,738 $2,650

5. Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

The following table presents details of the Office's accounts payable and accrued liabilities:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Accounts payable - Other government departments and agencies $98 $85
Accounts payables - External parties 2,333 2,885
Accrued liabilities 290 422
Gross accounts payable and accrued liabilities $2,721 $3,392

6. Accounts receivable and advances

The following table presents details of the Office's accounts receivable and advances:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Receivables - Other government departments and agencies $393 $600
Receivables - External parties 9 17
Employee advances 2 2
Accounts receivable and advances $404 $619

7. Tangible capital assets

Cost
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
Acquisitions Disposals and
adjustments
Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $272 $55 $- $327
Informatics hardware 1,566 42 (13) 1,595
Computer software 347 91 13 451
Other equipment 892 115 (12) 995
Leasehold improvements 262 - - 262
  $3,339 $303 $(12) $3,630
 
Accumulated amortization
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
Amortization Disposals and
adjustments
Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $22 $76 $- $98
Informatics hardware 912 311 (5) 1,218
Computer software 238 59 5 302
Other equipment 291 87 (3) 375
Leasehold improvements 202 33 - 235
  $1,665 $566 $(3) $2,228
Net book value
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
    Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $250     $229
Informatics hardware 654     377
Computer software 109     149
Other equipment 601     620
Leasehold improvements 60     27
  $1,674     $1,402
 
Amortization expense for the year ended March 31, 2012 was $566,000 ($454,000 in 2011).

8. Related party transactions

The Office is related as a result of common ownership to all government departments, agencies, and Crown corporations. The Office enters into transactions with these entities in the normal course of business and on normal trade terms. During the year, the Office received common services which were obtained without charge from other government departments as disclosed below.

(a) Common services provided without charge by other government departments
During the year, the Office received services without charge from certain common service organizations, related to accommodation, the employer’s contribution to the health and dental insurance plans, payroll services and audit services. These services provided without charge have been recorded in the Office's Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position as follows:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Accommodation $1,559 $1,369
Employer’s contribution to the health and dental insurance plans 1,206 1,009
Payroll services 20 9
Audit services 111 118
  $2,896 $2,505

(b) Other transactions with related parties:

(in thousands of dollars) 2012 2011
Expenses - Other government departments and agencies $799 $739
Expenses disclosed in (b) exclude common services provided without charge, which are already disclosed in (a).

9. Segmented information

Presentation by segment is based on the Office's program activity architecture. Refer to note 1 for further details of the Office's activities. Internal Services, to facilitate payment process, will incur expenses for the organization as whole for corporate services provided to the organization as well as amortization expense. These expenses are allocated at the end of the year in order to better represent segmented expenditures. The methodology used to prorate the allocation is based on the number of full time equivalent per program activity. The presentation by segment is based on the same accounting policies as described in the Summary of significant accounting policies in note 2. The following table presents the expenses incurred for the main program activities, by major object of expenses. The segment results for the period are as follows:

(in thousands of dollars) Compliance Research &
Policy
Development
Public
Outreach
Internal
Services
Total
2012
Restated
(Note 10)
Total
2011
Operating expenses
Salaries and employee benefits $8,370 $2,899 $2,063 $3,784 $17,116 $15,060
Professional and special services 3,325 467 315 1,908 6,015 4,056
Accommodation 730 245 169 414 1,558 1,370
Transportation and communications 389 182 120 210 901 929
Information 18 11 604 28 661 691
Amortization of tangible capital assets 228 76 55 207 566 454
Repairs and maintenance 37 14 9 410 470 528
Equipment 1 21 4 246 272 778
Utilities, materials and supplies 36 59 19 131 245 231
Other (1) 1 (14) 127 113 190
Rentals 9 9 11 44 73 79
Total operating expenses 13,142 3,984 3,355 7,509 27,990 24,366
 
Transfer Payments - 433 - - 433 446
 
Cost of operations $13,142 $4,417 $3,355 $7,509 $28,423 $24,812

10. Accounting changes

During 2011, amendments were made to Treasury Board Accounting Standard 1.2––Departmental and Agency Financial Statements to improve financial reporting by government departments and agencies. The amendments are effective for financial reporting of fiscal years ending March 31, 2012, and later. The significant changes to the Office’s financial statements are described below. These changes have been applied retroactively, and comparative information for 2010-11 has been restated.

Net debt (calculated as liabilities less financial assets) is now presented in the Statement of Financial Position. Accompanying this change, the Office now presents a Statement of Change in Net Debt and no longer presents a Statement of Equity.

Government funding, as well as the credit related to services provided without charge by other government departments, are now recognized in the Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position below “Cost of operations before government funding.” In previous years, the Office recognized these transactions directly in the Statement of Equity of Canada. The effect of this change was to decrease the net cost of operations after government funding by $28,934,000 for 2012 ($25,159,000 for 2011).

(in thousands of dollars) 2011
As previously stated
Effect of change 2011
Restated
Government funding
Net cash provided by Government - $21,359 $21,359
Change in due from Consolidated Revenue Fund - 1,295 1,295
Services provided without charge by other government departments - 2,505 2,505
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