Audited Financial Statements 2013-2014

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, 2014 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, 2014 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)

Daniel Therrien
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

(Original signed by)

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

Gatineau, Canada
August 22, 2014


Logo: Auditor General of Canada

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 2014, 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 2014, 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)

Sylvain Ricard, CPA, CA
Assistant Auditor General
for the Auditor General of Canada

22 August 2014
Ottawa, Canada


Statement of Financial Position

As at March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2014 2013
Liabilities
Accounts payable and accrued liabilities (Note 4) $2,145 $2,203
Accrued employee salaries 441 522
Vacation pay and compensatory leave 878 621
Employee future benefits (Note 5) 1,131 1,276
Total liabilities 4,595 4,622
Financial assets
Due from the Consolidated Revenue Fund 2,361 2,526
Accounts receivable and advances (Note 6) 186 173
Total financial assets 2,547 2,699
NET DEBT 2,048 1,923
Non-financial assets
Prepaid expenses 144 121
Tangible capital assets (Note 7) 3,469 1,477
Total non-financial assets 3,613 1,598
NET FINANCIAL POSITION $1,565 $(325)
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.

Approved by:

(Original signed by)

Daniel Therrien
Privacy Commissioner of Canada

(Original signed by)

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

Gatineau, Canada
August 22, 2014


Statement of Operations and Net Financial Position

For the year ended March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2014
Planned results
(note 2)
2014 2013
Expenses
Compliance $12,825 $13,370 $13,228
Research & Policy Development 5,238 3,407 4,461
Public Outreach 3,626 3,043 3,893
Internal Services 8,426 9,170 6,530
Net cost of operations before government funding 30,115 28,990 28,112
 
Government funding
Net cash provided by Government 28,723 28,263 25,633
Change in due from Consolidated Revenue Fund 266 (165) (69)
Transfer of assets to other government departments - (280) -
Services provided without charge by other government departments (note 8) 2,896 3,062 3,126
Net cost of operations after government funding (1,770) (1,890) (578)
 
Net financial position - Beginning of year (356) (325) (903)
Net financial position - End of year $1,414 $1,565 $(325)

Segmented information (note 9)

The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.


Statement of Change in Net Debt

For the year ended March 31
(in thousands of dollars)
2014
Planned results
(note 2)
2014 2013
Net cost of operations after government funding $(1,770) $(1,890) $(578)
 
Change due to tangible capital assets
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 2,853 2,800 598
Amortization of tangible capital assets (932) (471) (522)
Transfer of assets to other government departments - (280) -
Net loss on disposal of tangible capital assets including adjustments - (57) (1)
Total change due to tangible capital assets 1,921 1,992 75
 
Increase in prepaid expenses - 23 38
Net increase (decrease) in net debt 151 125 (465)
Net debt - Beginning of year 2,097 1,923 2,388
Net debt - End of year $2,248 $ 2,048 $1,923
 
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)
2014 2013
Operating activities
Net cost of operations before government funding $28,990 $28,112
Non-cash items:
Amortization of tangible capital assets (471) (522)
Net loss on disposal of tangible capital assets (57) (1)
Services provided without charge by other government departments (Note 8) (3,062) (3,126)
Variations in Statement of Financial Position:
Increase (decrease) in accounts receivable and advances 13 (230)
Increase in prepaid expenses 23 38
Decrease in liabilities 27 764
Cash used in operating activities 25,463 25,035
Capital activities
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 2,800 598
Cash used in capital activities 2,800 598
Net cash provided by Government of Canada $28,263 $25,633
The accompanying notes form an integral part of these financial statements.

Notes to the Financial Statements

For the year ended March 31

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 his 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 Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada's Programs are:

  • Program 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 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 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 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 and in the Statement of Changes in Net Debt are the amounts reported in the future-oriented financial statements included in the 2013-2014 Report on Plans and Priorities.

Liquidity risk is the risk that the Office will encounter difficulty in meeting its obligations associated with financial liabilities. The Office’s objective for managing liquidity risk is to manage operations and cash expenditures within the appropriation authorized by Parliament or allotment limits approved by the Treasury Board.

Each year, the Office presents information on planned expenditures to Parliament through the tabling of Estimates publications. These estimates result in the introduction of supply bills (which, once passed into legislation, become appropriation acts) in accordance with the reporting cycle for government expenditures. The Office exercises expenditure initiation processes such that unencumbered balances of budget allotments and appropriations are monitored and reported on a regular basis to help ensure sufficient authority remains for the entire period and appropriations are not exceeded.

Consistent with Section 32 of the Financial Administration Act, the Office’s policy to manage liquidity risk is that no contract or other arrangement providing for a payment shall be entered into with respect to any program for which there is an appropriation by Parliament or an item included in estimates then before the House of Commons to which the payment will be charged unless there is a sufficient unencumbered balance available out of the appropriation or item to discharge any debt that, under the contract or other arrangement, will be incurred during the fiscal year in which the contract or other arrangement is entered into.

The Office’s risk exposure and its objectives, policies and processes to manage and measure this risk did not change significantly from the prior year.

(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. This amount is not considered to be a financial instrument.

(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 obligation 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.

Credit risk is the risk that one party to a financial instrument will cause a financial loss for the other party by failing to discharge an obligation. The Office is not exposed to significant credit risk. The Office provides services to other government departments and agencies and to external parties in the normal course of business. Accounts receivable are due on demand. The majority of accounts receivable are due from other government of Canada departments and agencies where there is minimal potential risk of loss. The maximum exposure the Office has to credit risk equal to the carrying value of its accounts receivables.

(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 lesser of 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 net cost of operations to current year authorities used:

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Net cost of operations before government funding $28,990 $28,112
Adjustments for items affecting net cost of operations but not affecting authorities:
Services provided without charge by other government departments (3,062) (3,126)
Amortization of tangible capital assets (471) (522)
Adjustment of Previous year's accrued liabilities - 53
Increase in vacation pay and compensatory leave (257) (66)
Decrease in employee future benefits 145 462
Other (49) (10)
  25,296 24,903
Adjustments for items not affecting net cost of operations but affecting authorities:
Acquisition of tangible capital assets 2,800 598
Increase in prepaid expenses 23 38
  2,823 636
Current year authorities used $28,119 $25,539

(b) Appropriations provided and used:

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Authorities provided:
Vote 45 - Program expenditures $27,918 $23,869
Statutory amounts 2,566 2,502
Less: 30,484 26,371
Lapsed: Operating (2,365) (832)
Current year authorities used $28,119 $25,539

4. Accounts payable and accrued liabilities

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

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Accounts payable - Other government departments and agencies $157 $94
Accounts payables - External parties 1,555 1,678
Accrued liabilities 433 431
Gross accounts payable and accrued liabilities $2,145 $2,203

5. Employee future benefits

(a) Pension benefits

The Office’s employees participate in the Public Service Pension plan (the “Plan”), a contributory defined benefit plan established through legislation and sponsored 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 Plans benefits and they are indexed to inflation.

Both the employees and the Office contribute to the cost of the Plan. Due to the amendment of the Public Service Superannuation Act following the implementation of provisions related to Economic Action Plan 2012, employee contributors have been divided into two groups – Group 1 relates to existing plan members as of December 31, 2012 and Group 2 relates to members joining the Plan as of January 1, 2013. Each group has a distinct contribution rate.

The 2013-2014 expense amounts to $1,803,936 ($1,786,633 in 2012-2013). For Group 1 members, the expense represents approximately 1.6 times (1.7 in 2012-2013) the employee contributions and, for Group 2 members, approximately 1.5 times (1.6 times in 2012-2013) the employee contributions.

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.

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.

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:

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Accrued benefit obligation, beginning of year $1,276 $1,738
Expense for the year 159 53
Benefits paid during the year (304) (515)
Accrued benefit obligation, end of year $1,131 $1,276

6. Accounts receivable and advances

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

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Receivables - Other government departments and agencies $183 $133
Receivables - External parties 1 38
Employee advances 2 2
Accounts receivable and advances $186 $173

7. Tangible capital assets

Cost
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
Acquisitions Disposals and
adjustments
Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $345 $29 $(68) $306
Informatics hardware 1,735 294 (725) 1,304
Computer software 464 84 (198) 350
Other equipment 995 141 (794) 342
Leasehold improvements 262 2,252 (262) 2,252
  $3,801 $2,800 $(2,047) $4,554
 
Accumulated amortization
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
Amortization Disposals and
adjustments
Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $206 $92 $(66) $232
Informatics hardware 1,024 201 (724) 501
Computer software 367 71 (193) 245
Other equipment 465 88 (465) 88
Leasehold improvements 262 19 (262) 19
  $2,324 $471 $(1,710) $1,085
Net book value
(in thousands of dollars)
Opening
Balance
    Closing
Balance
Machinery and equipment $139     $74
Informatics hardware 711     803
Computer software 97     105
Other equipment 530     254
Leasehold improvements -     2,233
  $1,477     $3,469
 
Amortization expense for the year ended March 31, 2014 was $471,000 ($522,000 in 2013).

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) 2014 2013
Accommodation $1,650 $1,628
Employer’s contribution to the health and dental insurance plans 1,292 1,378
Payroll services 20 20
Audit services 100 100
  $3,062 $3,126

(b) Other transactions with related parties:

(in thousands of dollars) 2014 2013
Expenses - Other government departments and agencies $1,276 $530
Acquisitions - Other government departments and agencies 2,230 -
Expenses and acquisitions disclosed in (b) exclude common services provided without charge, which are already disclosed in (a).
The Office transferred equipment with a net book value of $191,000 to Public Works and Government Services Canada and a net book value of $89,000 to Canada Border Services Agency. These transfers are included in the adjustment columns (refer to note 7 for further detail on the transfers).

9. Segmented information

Presentation by segment is based on the Office's program architecture. Refer to note 1 for further details of the Office's programs. 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. 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 programs, 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
2014
Total
2013
Operating expenses
Salaries and employee benefits $10,135 $2,299 $1,912 $5,200 $19,546 $19,019
Professional and special services 1,680 242 416 1,105 3,443 3,982
Accommodation 862 180 151 457 1,650 1,628
Transportation and communications 323 98 93 279 793 728
Rentals 36 13 7 562 618 528
Amortization of tangible capital assets 231 66 61 113 471 522
Information 36 9 382 55 482 452
Equipment 6 3 - 908 917 324
Utilities, materials and supplies 26 2 13 199 240 208
Repairs and maintenance 29 8 8 119 164 136
Other 6 6 - 173 185 86
Total operating expenses 13,370 2,926 3,043 9,170 28,509 27,613
 
Transfer Payments - 481 - - 481 499
 
Cost of operations $13,370 $3,407 $3,043 $9,170 $28,990 $28,112
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