Annual Report to Parliament : The Administration of the Privacy Act

Table of Contents


 

1. Introduction

The purpose of the Privacy Act is to extend to individuals the right of access toinformation about themselves held by the government, subject to specific and limited exemptions. It protects individuals’ privacy by preventing others from having access totheir personal information and by affording individuals substantial control over how their personal information is collected, used, and disclosed.
 

1.1 Background

Section 72 of the Privacy Act requires that the head of every government institution prepare and submit to Parliament an annual report on the administration of the Act within the institution during each fiscal year. This is the fourteenth annual report to Parliamenton performance with respect to administration of the Act by the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces (the Office or the Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman).
 

The Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman is committed to openness and transparency about its administration and functioning. The Office endeavours to ensure that information about its work is widely disseminated and easily available. For example, the Ombudsman's annual reports, special reports and press releases are posted on the Office’s website as soon as they are released. The website also contains case studies and statistics on the Office's caseload. Critical to the resolution of complaint files and investigations is the confidentiality of the information provided by the constituents who come forward. Therefore, before any case study or report is released, identifying information is removed to ensure the protection of personal information and confidentiality of our communications.
 

As the Ombudsman’s Office is a portfolio of the Department of National Defence, disclosure of the Ombudsman’s travel and hospitality expenses, contracts over $10,000 and position reclassifications are reported on the National Defence website.
 

1.2. Mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces

The first Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces was appointed in June 1998 by Governor in Council (Federal Cabinet). The creation of an Ombudsman institution was part of a wide range of initiatives brought forth by the Government of Canada to enhance the overall fairness and effectiveness of the military justice system, enhance the transparency of internal review mechanisms, streamline the Canadian Forces grievance process, and promote greater openness, accountability and transparency within the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces.
 

The duties and functions of the Ombudsman are set out by the Minister of National Defence in Ministerial Directives Respecting the Ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. The Ministerial Directives confirm that the Ombudsman and the Office operate outside the military chain of command as well as outside the civilian management of the Department of National Defence. The Ombudsman reports directly to, and is accountable only to, the Minister of National Defence, who is responsible for the management and direction of the Canadian Forces and of all matters relating to national defence. However, the Ombudsman operates at arm’s-length from the Minister, preserving the Ombudsman’s independence from the executive function.
 

The Ministerial Directives governing the Office provide that the Ombudsman is to act, on the Minister’s behalf, as a neutral and objective sounding board, mediator, investigator and reporter on matters related to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces. The Ombudsman also acts as a direct source of information, referral and education to assist individuals in accessing existing internal channels of assistance and redress. The overall goal of the Office of the Ombudsman is to contribute to substantial and long-lasting improvements to the welfare of Defence community.
 

Under the Ministerial Directives, the Ombudsman is required to issue an annual report to the Minister of National Defence. The Ministerial Directives further provide that the Ombudsman may publish reports concerning any investigation, if the Ombudsman considers that it is in the public interest to do so.
 

1.3 Structure of the Access to Information and Privacy Unit

The ATIP unit for the Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman is part of the Legal Services Directorate and is managed by the institution’s Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator. Pursuant to section 73 of the Privacy Act, the Minister of National Defence designated the Office’s ATIP Coordinator to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Act as it concerns the Office of the Ombudsman. This arrangement reflects the Office’s independent, arm’s length relationship with the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces. A copy of the delegation order appears in Appendix A to this report.
 

A major challenge to the application of the ATIP legislation lies in the Ministerial Directives that establish the Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman. One of the main functions of the Office is to conduct confidential investigations, yet the records are not fully protected by having either the status of an investigative body under the regulation or having a specific provision protecting the Office’s investigative records. A further challenge is caused by the fact that some of the information that is required by this Office to conduct its investigations is held by other parts of the Defence community that are designated as investigative bodies or who claim exemptions under the ATIP legislation that directly frustrate the work of this Office. Because of the apparent conflicts of the Office’s mandate and the ATIP legislation, legal guidance is often called upon to find the balance between the application of the mandate and compliance with the ATIP legislation, whether it be protection of personal information or access to information.
 

The ATIP Unit is responsible for the following activities:
 

  • Processing requests under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act
     
  • Responding to consultation requests from other government institutions
     
  • Monitoring institutional compliance with the aforementioned Acts, regulations and relevant procedures and policies
     
  • Acting on behalf of the Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman in dealings with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, the offices of the Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner of Canada and other government institutions regarding the application of the above legislation as it relates to the Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman
     
  • Preparing annual reports to Parliament, in addition to other statutory reports and material that may be required by central agencies
     
  • Developing and delivering awareness training to the managers and employees of the Office to ensure responsiveness to the legal obligations imposed by both Acts and regulations
     
  • Coordinating the annual update of the institution’s description and records holdings for inclusion the Treasury Board of Canada publication Info Source
     
  • Representing the Office by participating in ATIP community forums, such as the Treasury Board Secretariat’s ATIP Community meetings
     
  • Developing and implementing internal policies and office standards
     

The ATIP Unit is part of the Legal Services directorate and has a dedicated resource to administer the processing of ATIP files. The ATIP Unit also engages a consultant to assist the processing of requests.
 

Top of Page
 

2. Key Activities and Accomplishments

2.1 Education and Training Activities

Those responsible for the delivery the Ombudsman’s ATIP services regularly attend learning activities presented by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Information and Privacy Policy Division and other learning institutions. During the current reporting period, the ATIP officer took 6 days of ATIP related training and both legal counsel attended the Access to Information and Privacy Law Symposium offered by the Canadian Bar Association.
 

Also during this reporting period, training was provided to all employees of the Ombudsman’s Office focussing on (a) the process for responding to ATIP requests and the statutory deadlines, and (b) privacy breaches.
 

2.2 Institutional Privacy Policies and Procedures

The Office of the DND/CF Ombudsman has not implemented any new and/or revised institution-specific privacy policy, guideline or procedure during this reporting period.
 

2.3 Privacy Impact Assessments

During the reporting period, no Privacy Impact Assessments or Preliminary Privacy Impact Assessments were initiated, completed or forwarded to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
 

2.4. Data Matching

No data matching or sharing activities were undertaken by the Office during the reporting period.
 

2.5 Disclosures under s.8(2)(m) of the Privacy Act

Paragraph 8(2)(m) allows for the disclosure of personal information when the public interest clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy or when the disclosure would benefit the individual. There were no disclosures pursuant to paragraph 8(2)(m) for the 2012-13 period.
 

Top of Page
 

3. Statistical Report on the Administration of the Privacy Act

This section provides information about the processing of requests under the Privacy Act. Appendix B provides a statistical summary of the requests received and/or finalized during this reporting period.
 

3.1 Formal requests

During the current reporting period, the Office received nine (9) requests under the Privacy Act. No requests were carried over from the previous year. All of the requests were finalized, and none were carried forward to the next reporting period.
 

In five (5) cases, full disclosure was provided. In two (2) cases, partial disclosure was made. In two (2) cases, we did not have any records responding to the request.
 

3.2 Exemptions to the Release of Information

In both cases of partial disclosure, exemptions were invoked based on section 26 of the Privacy Act.
 

3.3. Extension of the Time Limit

In all nine (9) cases, the request was completed in less than 30 days; of those, three (3) were completed in under 15 days, and six (6) in 16 to 30 days.
 

In all cases, paper copies of the documents were provided. In one (1) case, in addition to the paper documents, an audio tape was also provided. None of the requestors requested any corrections or notations to their records. In one (1) case, a request for translation (from French to English) was accepted, and the requestor was provided with the information in the official language of choice.
 

The number of requests and the volume of pages processed and released were similar to that of the previous reporting period. No significant trends on the application of exemptions and exclusions, or on completion times or extensions, was noted during the reporting period.
 

3.4 Informal requests

During an investigation, the Office’s policy is to keep all parties informed of the progress of each case and keep complainants informed of the investigative process and the status of their cases. As a result, we do not receive many formal personal information requests under the Privacy Act.
 

3.5 Complaints and Judicial Review

During this reporting period, no complaints were filed with the Privacy Commissionerregarding the handling of requests under the Privacy Act.
 

3.6 Costs

This is the first year where the ATIP Unit of the DND/CF Ombudsman has a dedicated resource to manage the administrative aspects of ATIP processing. A management review in the previous year made it evident that the ATIP unit needed stability and a restructuring. Previously managed by two legal counsels with the ad hoc services of a consultant, the cost of the program included paying a resource at a higher classification and salary range than the work required. Given the sustained administrative effort required to support the delivery of ATIP services, as well as the specialized knowledge necessary to ensure consistent processing, the staffing of a legal assistant who assumed the ATIP Officer function, was justified.
 

We can confirm that the addition of a dedicated resource has increased the overall efficiency of the ATIP function and has significantly freed the time of legal counsel to concentrate on legal work rather than ATIP administration. The allocation of resources was more cost effective.
 

The legal counsel spent approximately five percent (5%) of working hours on access to information related work as opposed to approximately twenty percent (20%) in previous years. The legal assistant/ATIP officer devoted approximately twenty percent (20%) of working hours to the administration and delivery of the Privacy Act program. The estimated total salary cost of employees assigned to the administration of the Privacy Act totalled $17,000.00. Operating and maintenance costs (including consultant services) totalled $3,655.00 for a grand total of $20,655.00.
 

There are no costs associated with ATIP specific software as the volume of requests does not warrant the expenditure. Nevertheless, a lack of software does make the collection of statistics and file management more labour intensive. In order to maximize efficiency without major operating expenditure, the ATIP Unit undertook to capture statistics electronically by designing an in-house solution.

 

Top of Page
 


Appendix A

Copy of Delegation Order

Sep 05 2002

 
Mr. André Marin
Department of National Defence
and Canadian Forces Ombudsman
12th Floor, 100 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa ON K1P 5M1
 

Dear Mr. Marin:
 

I would like to acknowledge and thank you for your letter, received on August 1, 2002, concerning the Designation Order for the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
 

I concur with your request and have signed the enclosed English and French copies of the Designation Order.

Once again, thank you for bringing this information to my attention.
 

Yours sincerely,

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.

 

Enclosures: 2


Designation Order

Access to Information and Privacy Act

The Minister of National Defence, persuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the person holding the position of Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise all powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister as the head of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.
 

In the absence of the Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator, Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, the Minister, pursuant to section 73 of the Acts, hereby designates the person acting as Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces, to exercise the powers and perform the duties and functions of the Minister under the Acts, concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, National Defence and Canadian Forces.

 

[signed]

The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.
Minister of National Defence

 

Top of Page
  


 

Appendix B Statistical Report

Name of institution: DND/CF OMBUDSMAN
 

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

PART 1 – Requests under the Privacy Act

 Number of Requests
Received during reporting period 9
Outstanding from previous reporting period 0
Total 9
Closed during reporting period 9
Carried over to next reporting period 0

 

Part 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period

2.1 Disposition and completion time

Disposition of Requests Completion Time        
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total

All disclosed

1 4 0 0 0 0 0 5
Disclosed in part 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
No records exist 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Request abandoned 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 3 6 0 0 0 0 0 9

 

2.2 Exemptions

SectionNumber of Requests
18(2) 0
19(1)(a) 0
19(1)(b) 0
19(1)(c) 0
19(1)(d) 0
19(1)(e) 0
19(1)(f) 0
20 0
21 0
22(1)(a)(i) 0
22(1)(a)(ii) 0
22(1)(a)(iii) 0
22(1)(b) 0
22(1)(c) 0
22(2) 0
22.1 0
22.2 0
22.3 0
23(a) 0
23(b) 0
24(a) 0
24(b) 0
25 0
26 2
27 0
28 0

 

2.3 Exclusions

SectionNumber of requests
69(1)(a) 0
69(1)(b) 0
69.1 0
70(1)(a) 0
70(1)(b) 0
70(1)(c) 0
70(1)(d) 0
70(1)(e) 0
70(1)(f) 0
70.1 0
69.1(1) 0

 

 

2.4 Format of information released

DispositionPaperElectronicOther formats
All disclosed 5 0 0
Disclosed in part 2 0 0
Total 7 0 0

 

 

2.5 Complexity

2.5.1 Relevant pages processed and disclosed
Disposition of requestsNumber of pages processedNumber of pages disclosedNumber of requests
All disclosed 2463 2463 5
Disclosed in part 758 727 2
All exempted 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0
Request abandoned 0 0 0

 

 

2.5.2 Relevant pages processed and disclosed by size of requests
Disposition Less than 100 pages processed 101-500 pages processed 501-1000 pages processed 1001-5000 pages processed More than 5000 pages processed 
Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed Number of requests Pages disclosed
All disclosed 2 60 1 383 1 700 1 1320 0 0
Disclosed in part 0 0 2 727 0 0 0 0 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Abandoned 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 2 60 3 1110 1 700 1 1320 0 0

 

 

2.5.3 Other complexities
DispositionConsultation requiredAssessment of feesLegal advice soughtOtherTotal
All disclosed 0 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 1 0 0 0 1
All exempted 0 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0 0
Abandoned 0 0 0 0 0
Total 1 0 0 0 1

 

 

2.6 Demmed refusals

2.6.1 Reasons for not meeting statutory deadline
Number of requests closed past the statutory deadline Principal Reason   
Workload External consultation Internal consultation Other
0 0 0 0 0

 

 

2.6.2 Number of days past deadline
Number of days past deadlineNumber of requests past deadline where no extension was takenNumber of requests past deadline where an extension was taken Total
1 to 15 days 0 0 0
16 to 30 days 0 0 0
31 to 60 days 0 0 0
61 to 120 days 0 0 0
121 to 180 days 0 0 0
181 to 365 days 0 0 0
More than 365 days 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0

 

 

2.7 Requests for translation

Translation RequestsAcceptedRefusedTotal
English to French 0 0 0
French to English 1 0 1
Total 1 0 1

 

Part 3 - Disclosures under subsection 8(2)

Paragraph 8(2)(e)Paragraph 8(2)(m)Total
0 2 2


Part 4 - Requests for correction of personal information and notations

 Number
Requests for correction received 0
Requests for correction accepted 0
Requests for correction refused 0
Notations attached 0

 
Part 5 - Extensions

5.1 Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests 

Disposition of requests where an extension was taken15(a)(i) Interference with operations15(a)(ii) Consultation

15(b)

Translation or conversion

Section 70Other
All disclosed 0 0 0 0
Disclosed in part 0 0 0 0
All exempted 0 0 0 0
All excluded 0 0 0 0
No records exist 0 0 0 0
  0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0

 

5.2 Length of extensions 

Length of extensions15(a)(i) Interference with operations15(a)(ii) Consultation

15(b)

Translation purposes

Section 70Other
1 to 15 days 0 0 0 0
16 to 30 days 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0

 

Part 6 - Consultations received from other institutions and organizations

6.1 Consultations received from other government institutions and organizations

ConsultationsOther government institutionsNumber of pages to reviewOther organizationsNumber of pages to review
Received during the reporting period 0 0 0 0
Outstanding from the previous reporting period 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0
Closed during the reporting period 0 0 0 0
Pending at the end of the reporting period 0 0 0 0

 

6.2 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other government instutions

RecommendationNumber of days required to complete consultation requests       
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total

Disclose entirely

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institutions 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

6.3 Recommendations and completion time for consultations received from other organizations 

RecommendationNumber of days required to complete consultation requests       
1 to 15 days 16 to 30 days 31 to 60 days 61 to 120 days 121 to 180 days 181 to 365 days More than 365 days Total

Disclose entirely

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Disclose in part 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exempt entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Exclude entirely 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Consult other institutions 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

Part 7 - Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences

Number of daysNumber of responses receivedNumber of responses received past deadline
1 to 15 0 0
16 to 30 0 0
31 to 60 0 0
61 to 120 0 0
121 to 180 0 0
181 to 365 0 0
More than 365 0 0
Total 0 0

 

Part 8 - Resources related to the Privacy Act 

8.1 - Costs

ExpendituresAmount
Salaries $17,000
Overtime $0
Goods and Services $3,655
  • Contracts for privacy impact assessments
$0  
  • Professional services contracts
$3,655
  • Other
$0
Total $20,655

 

8.2 - Human Resources

 Dedicated full-time Dedicated part-time Total
Full-time employees 0.00 3.00 3.00
Part-time and casual employees 0.00 0.00 0.00
Regional staff 0.00 0.00 0.00
Consultants and agency personnel 0.00 1.00 1.00
Students 0.00 0.00 0.00
Total 0.00 4.00 4.00

 

Top of Page
 

Date modified: