2013-14 Annual Report on the Administration of the Access to Information Act


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is a federal agency that promotes and supports research and training in the social sciences and humanities.

SSHRC is pleased to provide its annual report on the administration of the Access to Information Act, as required by section 72 of the Act. Annual Reports are tabled in Parliament in accordance with this same section of the Act.

The Act provides Canadians with a right of access to information in records under the control of a government institution in accordance with the principle that government information should be available to the public, that necessary exceptions to the right of access should be limited and specific, and that decisions on the disclosure of government information should be reviewed independently of government.

Administration of the Access to Information Act

At SSHRC, processing requests under the Access to Information Act and providing support and advice on its administration is the responsibility of the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator.

All formal requests and complex informal requests are handled by the ATIP Coordinator’s office. Program and other directorates may respond to informal requests for information as appropriate.

The president and other senior managers are kept informed of key decisions and developments in the administration and implementation of the Act, as appropriate.

When advice on the administration of the Act is required, it is sought from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, Department of Justice legal counsel, the Office of the Information Commissioner, and/or other federal government ATIP offices.

The ATIP Coordinator’s office holds full records of all access to information requests received within the last two years.

On average during the period covered by this report, the ATIP Coordinator spent one and a half days per week administering the requests and the various requirements of Treasury Board in connection with the Act.

Access to Information Act Designation Order

A copy of SSHRC’s designation order for the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act is attached. The order states that the persons holding the positions of executive vice-president; executive director, Corporate Strategy and Performance; and ATIP Coordinator, are designated to exercise or perform most of the powers, duties and functions of the head of a government institution under the Act insofar as they may be exercised or performed in relation to SSHRC.

Statistical Report for the Fiscal Year 2013-14

The statistical report for the period of April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 is appended.

Thirteen (13) formal requests under the Access to Information Act were received by SSHRC in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. This is a slight increase from 2012-2013, in which eight (8) requests were received, and approaches SSHRC’s average of 15 requests per year.

Figure 1 Formal requests received

Description of figure

Formal Requests Received

This graph shows the number of formal requests under the Access to Information Act received by SSHRC in the five fiscal years spanning 2009 and 2014.

The X-axis presents the fiscal years, with each year represented by a bar.

The Y-axis presents the number of requests received in each fiscal year.

The data presented in the graph is as follows:

  • 2009-2010: 24 formal requests received
  • 2010-2011: 13 formal requests received
  • 2011-2012: 19 formal requests received
  • 2012-2013: 8 formal requests received
  • 2013-2014: 13 formal requests received

Two (2) of these requests were received from the media, eight (8) from the academic sector, one (1) from the private sector, and two (2) from the general public. One (1) request from the previous year was carried over to 2013-14 and was closed in that fiscal year. Six (6) requests received in 2013-2014 were carried over to the subsequent fiscal year.

Of the requests closed during the reporting period, one (1) request was processed in less than 15 days and three (3) requests were processed in 15 to 30 days. Two (2) requests were completed in 31 to 60 days, one (1) request was processed in 61 to 120 days, and one (1) request was processed in 121 to 180 days. The request completed in 121 to 180 days was a complex case carried over from 2012-2013. All records were disclosed in electronic format.

For two (2) of the requests, portions of the document were exempted in accordance with section 19 (1) of the Access to Information Act, which pertains to personal information of individuals other than the requestor. In two (2) cases, no records responsive to the request were located.

Education and Training

When and where appropriate, staff are reminded and encouraged to consult the ATIP Coordinator’s office on any issues that might affect the implementation of the Act.

The ATIP Coordinator’s office delivered, during 2013-2014, three (3) training sessions to approximately ten (10) SSHRC staff members. The sessions covered the principles of the access to information legislation, SSHRC’s procedures for processing access to information requests, and employee responsibilities with respect to the Act.

Significant Changes to SSHRC’S Organization, Programs, Operations, or Policies

No new or revised access to information policies or guidelines were formally implemented during this past fiscal year. SSHRC has, however, worked to implement use of Access Pro software (a case management and redaction tool) over the course of 2013-2014, and will begin using the software to process all access to information requests as of April 1, 2014. SSHRC also hired a new ATIP Coordinator in December of 2013.

The decentralized publishing requirements for Info Source came into effect for SSHRC in December 2013, and SSHRC has since published its own Info Source chapter on its website. SSHRC continues to update this chapter, as needed, in order to harmonize it with SSHRC’s Program Alignment Architecture and to ensure that the information is presented clearly.

Complaints, Investigations, and Appeals to the Office of the Information Commissioner

Two complaints pertaining to requests submitted to SSHRC were filed with the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. These complaints were related to the reasonableness of extensions taken and SSHRC’s processing of a request.

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada has carried out investigations of complaints in previous fiscal years. These complaints have typically concerned the application of certain exemptions and the retrieval of all available records.

Monitoring processing times

The Executive Director, Corporate Strategy and Performance was regularly kept apprised (normally on a weekly basis) by the ATIP Coordinator of all matters pertaining to the requests, including time to process. During the reporting period, SSHRC began its transition to the use of Access Pro software, which is the tool that the Agency will use as of April 1, 2014 to monitor the time to process access to information requests.

Appeals to Courts

With respect to SSHRC’s administration of the Access to Information Act, there were no appeals to the Federal Court or the Federal Court of Appeal during the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

June 2014