2018-2019 Departmental Plan
Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
Original signed by
The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, P.C., Q.C.,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Information Commissioner of Canada
Table of contents
- Commissioner’s message
- Plans at a glance
- Planned results: what we want to achieve this year and beyond
- Spending and human resources
- Supplementary information
- Appendix: definitions
I am pleased to present to Parliament and to all Canadians the Office of the Information Commissioner’s Departmental Plan for 2018–19.
As a newly-appointed Agent of Parliament, I begin my mandate with a profound sense of purpose and a clear view of my role. I will seek to promote government transparency, and help Canadians understand the right of access. Through close collaboration with institutions and stakeholders, I will uphold and advance that right, and ensure that the law is respected.
I am a firm believer that access delayed is access denied. While continuing to investigate complaints about institutions’ responses to access requests as they arrive, in 2018–19 my team will also work to address the inventory of unassigned complaints at the OIC. In addition, to ensure the timely resolution of complaints, my office will work to improve our operational efficiency, streamlining the investigation process to address delays where possible.
The second major area of focus will be the implementation of anticipated new legislation, which will present a number of operational challenges, including the possibility of running two concurrent investigation systems for a period of time. My team will implement the oversight model prescribed under the proposed legislation, and ensure that my office is provided with the support and necessary tools to deliver on our mandate.
I will ensure that the values of openness and transparency are reflected in the day-to-day work of my office, as well as in my interactions with institutions, Parliamentarians and all Canadians.
My team will work closely with institutions to help them meet their obligations under the Access to Information Act and address systemic issues which serve as barriers to access. This collaborative approach will include sharing and encouraging best practices to ensure a culture of access prioritization and being open by default. I will also seek areas of collaboration with the Privacy Commissioner, my provincial and territorial counterparts, and stakeholders in order to promote access.
Although these are the early days of my term, I am confident that the plan outlined for 2018-19 will help my team and I build a solid foundation for the years to come.
Plans at a glance
The coming year will be one of significant change for the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC). Caroline Maynard was appointed as the new Information Commissioner on March 1st, 2018, for a term of seven years.
The top priority for the coming year is to address the backlog of approximately 3,500 complaints. The government has also committed to this priority by including $2.9 million in the Federal Budget for 2018–19 to increase “the capacity of the Office of the Information Commissioner to resolve complaints about the handling of public access to information requests. This funding reinforces the Government’s commitment to openness and transparency concerning access to information.” With these additional funds, the OIC will be able retain the temporary investigative resources hired in 2017–18 for the coming year. The OIC anticipates resolving an additional 810 complaints in 2018–19 with these temporary resources, for a total of 2,110 complaints resolved.
In June 2017, the government tabled Bill C-58, “An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts.” The second priority for the OIC in the coming year is the implementation of this new legislation, if it is passed. The OIC is preparing for the possibility that this new legislation may result in two concurrent investigation systems running at the same time, potentially for a number of years: one for older complaints made under the current ombudsperson system, and the other for new complaints made should the oversight model contained in Bill C-58 come into effect. In addition, the OIC is strategizing how best to manage increased demands on both the Investigations and Legal Services Branches that may result from the implementation of Bill C-58.
Notwithstanding these challenges, the OIC will continue to work with all parties to carry out efficient, fair and confidential investigations into complaints about federal institutions’ handling of access to information requests. The OIC will continue to improve its processes to maximize information disclosure and resolve complaints more quickly. The OIC will continue to use a variety of dispute prevention and resolution approaches, focusing on the information sought and determining the most effective approach to resolving complaints.
In December 2017, the OIC launched its online complaint form to give Canadians better access to the investigative services at the OIC. A second phase to be carried out in 2018–19 will integrate the online complaint form directly into the case management system. The OIC is also transitioning to a paperless environment beginning with its administrative complaints. Lastly, the OIC is developing a publication system in anticipation of requirements set out in Bill C-58.
In 2018–19, the OIC plans to improve its digital footprint by revitalizing its web and social media presence. The OIC will publish several advisory notices and guidance documents for its stakeholders to assist in their understanding of the complaints process. These initiatives will provide timely and accessible online information and services to Canadians.
In 2018–19, the OIC will continue to foster an exceptional workplace in to further increase employee engagement. The OIC achieved notably higher scores than average on the Public Service Employee Annual Survey in key categories such as job satisfaction and work-life balance. The OIC is committed to maintaining a healthy and respectful workplace, with a focus on the mental health, safety and well-being of employees.
For more information on the OIC’s plans, priorities and planned results, see the “Planned results” section of this report.
Planned results: what we want to achieve this year and beyond
The Information Commissioner is the first level of independent review of government decisions relating to requests for access to information under the control of government institutions. The Access to Information Act requires the Commissioner to investigate all the complaints she receives. The second level of independent review is performed by the Federal Court.
The OIC’s core responsibility is providing independent review of government decisions relating to access to information. In 2018–19, the OIC will strive to investigate complaints in a timely, thorough and confidential manner. Furthermore, the OIC will continue to ensure that institutions meet their obligations under the Access to Information Act and adopt measures to address institutional and systemic issues affecting access to information.
The number of access to information requests received across government reached 91,880 in 2016–17, an increase of 5 percent over the 2015–16 figure and a 215 percent increase since 2006–07.
The figure is a line graph showing the annual number of access requests registered government-wide from 2006–2007 to 2016–17. On the X-axis is the range of years from 2006-2007 to 2016-2017. On the Y-axis is a range of the number of requests from 20,000 to 100,000.
In 2006-2007, the whole-of-government registered 29,182 access to information requests.
In 2007-2008, the whole-of-government registered 31,487 access to information requests.
In 2008-2009, the whole-of-government registered 34,041 access to information requests.
In 2009-2010, the whole-of-government registered 35,154 access to information requests.
In 2010-2011, the whole-of-government registered 41,641 access to information requests.
In 2011-2012, the whole-of-government registered 43,194 access to information requests.
In 2012-2013, the whole-of-government registered 55,145 access to information requests.
In 2013-2014, the whole-of-government registered 60,105 access to information requests.
In 2014-2015, the whole-of-government registered 68,193 access to information requests.
In 2015-2016, the whole-of-government registered 75,387 access to information requests.
In 2016-2017, the whole-of-government registered 91,880 access to information requests.
The OIC received more than 2,000 complaints in four of the last five years, and anticipates receiving more than 2,500 complaints in 2017–18, a 20 percent increase over the figure for 2016–17. The OIC will also closely monitor the impact the online request form may have on the number of complaints it receives.
The OIC began 2017–18 with an inventory of 2,844 unresolved complaints that had been filed in previous years. The OIC anticipates closing 1,900 complaints in 2017–18 with the help of 14 temporary investigators hired with $1.8 million in funding re-profiled from previous fiscal years. Even if the OIC resolves 1,900 complaints in 2017–18, the inventory of files will grow by approximately 600 files.
The Federal Budget for 2018–19 included $2.9 million for the OIC to reduce the number of complaints in its inventory. With this additional funding, the OIC plans to fill vacant permanent positions and hire consultants to bolster our investigations group and resolve more than 2,000 complaints. The OIC will also look at ways to improve its operational efficiency and effectiveness to increase the number of complaints resolved.
The OIC will continue to monitor the evolution of the access to information system and, in particular, the impact legislative changes in Bill C-58 may have on institutions and their ability to answer requests in a timely, accurate and complete manner, if it is passed.
The OIC will also work to integrate any legislative changes tabled in Bill C-58 that could affect its mandate, should it pass. The proposed changes to the Act may have a significant impact on the operations of the OIC and could greatly increase staffing and training costs. The OIC anticipates having two concurrent investigation systems running at the same time, potentially for a number of years.
Through complaint investigations, the OIC ensures the public’s right to access government information is respected. The OIC has been instrumental in the resolution of complaints regarding important topics such as residential schools and First Nations, gender and transgender issues, Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+), women, Indigenous women, discrimination and harassment. Looking forward to 2018-19, the OIC will be identifying complaints that refer to issues associated with GBA+, as they are received, in order to better compile statistics. The OIC will seek guidance from Status of Women Canada on how to develop procedures that best reflect GBA+ guidelines.
The OIC will overhaul its web presence to make it easier for Canadians to file complaints with the Commissioner, as well as provide more guidance on the investigation process, and timely updates on access to information news and activities.
|Expected Results||Expected Result Indicators||Target||Date to achieve target||2014–15
|Canadians receive timely resolution of complaints about how federal institutions process access to information requests||Median turnaround time for administrative cases*||90 days||March 31, 2019||52 days||48 days||36 days|
|Median turnaround time for refusal cases*||9 months (270 days)||March 31, 2019||128 days||163 days||70 days|
|Institutions meet their obligations under the Access to Information Act and adopt measures to address institutional and systemic issues affecting access to information||Percentage of recommendations from investigations of complaints that are adopted||95 percent||March 31, 2019||99 percent||99 percent||99 percent|
|Percentage of recommendations from systemic investigations that are adopted||80 percent||March 31, 2019||Two systemic investigations completed in 2014–15 contained 13 recommendations. The President of the Treasury Board did not address the Commissioner’s five recommendations on interference. Of the eight recommendations related to consultations, the President agreed to implement five.||Parks Canada accepted all recommendations resulting from the one systemic investigation completed in 2015–16.||There were no systemic investigations completed in 2016–17.|
Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
The OIC’s Main Estimates will be constant in 2018–19 and beyond. However, a temporary influx of $2.9 million for 2018–19 was included in the Federal Budget to reduce the number of complaints in inventory. The OIC also anticipates an increase in funding in conjunction with the legislative changes contained in Bill C-58.
Human resources (full-time equivalents)
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
The level of full-time equivalents (FTEs) will also remain constant in 2018–19. Any changes will be contingent upon the receipt of additional funding.
Financial, human resources and performance information for the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada’s Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.
Internal Services are those groups of related activities and resources that the federal government considers to be services in support of programs and/or required to meet corporate obligations of an organization. Internal Services refers to the activities and resources of the 10 distinct service categories that support Program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. The categories are: Management and Oversight Services; Communications Services; Human Resources Management Services; Financial Management Services; Information Management Services; Information Technology Services; Real Property Services; Materiel Services; and Acquisition Services.
Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
Human resources (full-time equivalents)
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
Planned full-time equivalents
The financial and human resources available to the internal services group at the OIC will remain consistent for 2018–19 and after. These groups will continue to support the program while also easing the transition to a new Commissioner and potential legislative change.
The Information Technology (IT) group will continue to improve and integrate the online complaints form. The IT group, along with the Communications group, will be a key player in increasing the OIC’s digital footprint and is crucial to ensuring the security of the sensitive information belonging to other organizations the OIC gathers during investigations.
The Audit and Evaluation Committee (AEC) will continue to provide governance, oversight and strategic guidance to the Commissioner. The AEC will also monitor the progress of the audits and evaluations identified in the Risk-based Audit and Evaluation Plan (RBAEP). Succession planning for the external members has begun and a new committee will be announced in 2018.
The Human Resources team will continue to enable employees to pursue training opportunities to enhance their skills; further their careers; and improve their mental health and well-being. This team is also essential to resolving problems associated with the Phoenix pay system as well as the recruitment and retention of employees.
The Finance group will continue its efforts to secure additional funding to support the program while diligently providing oversight and stewardship over all transactions executed by the OIC. The finance group also coordinates with the Office of the Auditor General on the annual audit of the OIC’s financial statements.
The OIC will continue partnering with government departments and Agents of Parliament in areas such as financial and procurement services, information technology, and security and accommodations, in order to be efficient and effective in supporting the Commissioner’s mandate.
At the beginning of 2018–19, the OIC will have additional office space ready for use in order to accommodate supplementary resources required to carry out the OIC’s vision, mission, and mandate.
Spending and human resources
This bar chart shows the OIC’s spending trend from 2015-16 to 2019–2020 in two categories: anticipated statutory spending and voted spending. The figures for each are as follows:
Statutory: $1,106,580 for 2015–2016, $1,104,509 for 2016–2017 and $1,247,826 for 2017–2018, $1,235,510 for both 2018–2019 and 2019–2020.
Voted: $9,731,667 for 2015–2016, $11,818,751 for 2016-2017, $12,485,794 for 2017–2018, $10,127,084 for both 2018–2019 and 2019–2020.
The total spending for each year is as follows: $10,838,247 for 2015–2016, $12,923,260 for 2016–2017 and $13,733,620 for 2017–2018, $11,362,594 for both 2018–2019 and 2019–2020.
Budgetary planning summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (dollars)
|Core Responsibilities and Internal Services||2015–16
The OIC received a special purpose allotment of $3.1 million in 2016–17 to reduce the inventory of complaints. A total of 2,245 complaints were resolved in 2016–17, the most of any year during former Commissioner Legault’s mandate. During this time, only $2.7 million of the funding received was spent. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat allowed the OIC to re-profile the balance of unspent funds ($400,000), as well additional lapsed funds for a total of $1.8 million to 2017–18 in order to further reduce the inventory of complaints. The OIC anticipates spending these additional funds to reduce the inventory by an additional 600 complaints.
The special purpose allotment and re-profiled funds are included in the Voted amounts in the Planned spending graph above.
The OIC plans to spend $11.4 million in 2018–19 and ongoing years to fulfill its mandate and achieve its planned results, assuming permanent funding remains constant. The OIC has also requested additional temporary funding of $2.9 million for 2018–19 to continue the reduction of the complaints in its inventory. These funds were included in the Federal Budget for 2018 but are not reflected in the graph or table above. However, the OIC anticipates a review of its funding profile in 2018–19 in light of anticipated legislative amendments.
The OIC is dedicated to ensuring that the financial resources will be used in the most strategic and responsible manner to continue to improve service delivery and ensure that investigations and other activities aimed at enhancing government openness and transparency have the most impact.
Planned human resources
Human resources planning summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (full-time equivalents)
|Core Responsibilities and Internal Services||2015–16
The OIC lapsed $1.2 million in 2016–17 in salary funds, due to positions remaining vacant throughout the year. These vacancies were the result of regular annual turnover of 10 percent, retirements and long-term leave. This amount was included in the $1.8 million re-profiled to 2017–18 and also accounts for the variation in FTEs.
The OIC was able to use the $1.8 million to hire supplementary human resources in 2017–18 in order to reduce its complaints inventory. Figures associated with these resources are not included in the above chart, since they are temporary staff and not FTEs.
Estimates by vote
For information on the OIC’s organizational appropriations, consult the 2018–19 Main Estimates.
Future-Oriented Condensed Statement of Operations
The Future-Oriented Condensed Statement of Operations provides a general overview of the OIC’s operations. The forecast of financial
information on expenses and revenues is prepared on an accrual accounting basis to strengthen accountability and to
improve transparency and financial management.
Because the Future-Oriented Condensed Statement of Operations is prepared on an accrual accounting basis, and the forecast and planned spending amounts presented in other sections of the Departmental Plan are prepared on an expenditure basis, amounts may differ.
A more detailed Future-Oriented Statement of Operations and associated notes, including a reconciliation of the net cost of operations to the requested authorities, are available on the OIC’s website.
Future Oriented Condensed Statement of Operations for the year ended March 31, 2019 (dollars)
(2018–19 Planned results minus 2017–18 Forecast results)
|Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers||15,074,321||13,442,030||1,632,291|
The variance between the forecast results for 2017–18 and planned results for 2018–19 is mainly due to $1.8 million of re-profiled funds received in 2017–18 to reduce the inventory of complaints.
Appropriate minister: Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Commissioner: Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner of Canada
Ministerial portfolio: Department of Justice Canada
Enabling instrument: Access to Information Act (R.S.C., 1985, C-1)
Year of incorporation / commencement: 1983
Other: For administrative purposes, the Minister of Justice is responsible for submitting the organization’s Departmental Plan and Departmental Results Report.
Raison d’être, mandate and role
“Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do” is available on the OIC’s website.
Operating context and key risks
Information on operating context and key risks is available on the OIC’s website.
The OIC’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory of record for 2018–19 are shown below:
This image depicts the reporting framework of the Office of the Information Commissioner by breaking down the components into the boxes.
A green box on the top of the graphic acts as the header. It contains the text Core Responsibility: Government Transparency. Below this header are series of six green boxes and a single grey box.
The first green box is aligned on the left side below the header and contains the text Departmental Result: Canadians receive timely resolution of complaints about how federal institutions process access to information requests.To the right this box are two smaller boxes containing the following text: Indicator: Median turnaround time for administrative cases; and Indicator: Median turnaround time for refusal cases.
The second cluster of three boxes is configured the same as those described above, that is to say one large box aligned to the left and two smaller boxes to the right, the text contained in the box on the left is: Departmental Result: Institutions meet their obligations under the Access to Information Act and adopt measures to address institutional and systemic issues affecting access to information. The first box on the right contains the text: Indicator: Percentage of recommendations from investigations of complaints that are adopted. The second box on the right contains the text: Indicator: Percentage of recommendations from systemic investigations that are adopted.
The single grey box is located on the bottom of the image and is also aligned on the left but has no other boxes to its right. It contains the text: Compliance with access to information obligations.
There are three other light grey boxes that border the left and right of the aforementioned boxes. The text contained runs vertically and they act as sub-headers or titles for the clusters of boxes. On the left of the six green boxes is a light grey box containing the title Departmental Results Framework. Just below this and to the left of the dark grey box is the light grey box containing the title Program inventory.
Finally, there is a light grey box that runs vertically the length of the entire right side of the image containing the title Internal Services.
Concordance between the Departmental Results Framework and the Program Inventory, 2018–19, and the Program Alignment Architecture, 2017–18
|2018–19 Core Responsibilities and Program Inventory||2017–18 Lowest-level program of the Program Alignment Architecture||Percentage of lowest-level Program Alignment Architecture program (dollars) corresponding to the program in the Program Inventory|
|Core Responsibility 1: Government Transparency|
|Compliance with access to information obligations||Compliance with access to information obligations||100%|
Supporting information on planned expenditures, human resources, and results related to the OIC’s Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.
Supporting information on the Program Inventory
- Supporting information on planned expenditures, human resources, and results related to the OIC’s Program Inventory is available in the GC InfoBase.
Supplementary information tables
The following supplementary information tables are available on the OIC’s website.
- Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy
- Gender-based analysis plus
- Planned evaluation coverage over the next five fiscal years
- Upcoming internal audits for the coming fiscal year
Federal tax expenditures
The tax system can be used to achieve public policy objectives through the application of special measures such as low tax rates, exemptions, deductions, deferrals and credits. The Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for these measures each year in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report also provides detailed background information on tax expenditures, including descriptions, objectives, historical information and references to related federal spending programs. The tax measures presented in this report are the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.
Organizational contact information
Deputy Commissioner, Investigations and Governance and Chief Financial Officer
Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada
30 Victoria Street
Gatineau QC K1A 1H3
Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
budgetary expenditures (dépenses budgétaires)
Operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.
Core Responsibility (responsabilité essentielle)
An enduring function or role performed by a department. The intentions of the department with respect to a Core Responsibility are reflected in one or more related Departmental Results that the department seeks to contribute to or influence.
Departmental Plan (plan ministériel)
A report on the plans and expected performance of appropriated departments over a three-year period. Departmental Plans are tabled in Parliament each spring.
Departmental Result (résultat ministériel)
Any change or changes that the department seeks to influence. A Departmental Result is often outside departments’ immediate control, but it should be influenced by Program-level outcomes.
Departmental Result Indicator (indicateur de résultat ministériel)
A factor or variable that provides a valid and reliable means to measure or describe progress on a Departmental Result.
Departmental Results Framework (cadre ministériel des résultats)
The department’s Core Responsibilities, Departmental Results and Departmental Result Indicators.
Departmental Results Report (rapport sur les résultats ministériels)
A report on the actual accomplishments against the plans, priorities and expected results set out in the corresponding Departmental Plan.
Activities that seek to explore, test and compare the effects and impacts of policies, interventions and approaches, to inform evidence-based decision-making, by learning what works and what does not.
full-time equivalent (équivalent temps plein)
A measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person-year charge against a departmental budget. Full-time equivalents are calculated as a ratio of assigned hours of work to scheduled hours of work. Scheduled hours of work are set out in collective agreements.
gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) (analyse
comparative entre les sexes plus [ACS+])
An analytical process used to help identify the potential impacts of policies, Programs and services on diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people. The “plus” acknowledges that GBA goes beyond sex and gender differences to consider multiple identity factors that intersect to make people who they are (such as race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability).
government-wide priorities (priorités pangouvernementales)
For the purpose of the 2018–19 Departmental Plan, government-wide priorities refers to those high-level themes outlining the government’s agenda in the 2015 Speech from the Throne, namely: Growth for the Middle Class; Open and Transparent Government; A Clean Environment and a Strong Economy; Diversity is Canada's Strength; and Security and Opportunity.
horizontal initiative (initiative horizontale)
An initiative in which two or more federal organizations, through an approved funding agreement, work toward achieving clearly defined shared outcomes, and which has been designated (by Cabinet, a central agency, etc.) as a horizontal initiative for managing and reporting purposes.
non-budgetary expenditures (dépenses non budgétaires)
Net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.
What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare to what the organization intended to achieve, and how well lessons learned have been identified.
performance indicator (indicateur de rendement)
A qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of an organization, program, policy or initiative respecting expected results.
performance reporting (production de rapports sur le rendement)
The process of communicating evidence-based performance information. Performance reporting supports decision making, accountability and transparency.
planned spending (dépenses prévues)
For Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts presented in the Main Estimates.
A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.
The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead up to the expected result.
A plan or project that an organization has chosen to focus and report on during the planning period. Priorities represent the things that are most important or what must be done first to support the achievement of the desired Departmental Results.
Individual or groups of services, activities or combinations thereof that are managed together within the department and focus on a specific set of outputs, outcomes or service levels.
Program Alignment Architecture (architecture d’alignement des
A structured inventory of an organization’s programs depicting the hierarchical relationship between programs and the Strategic Outcome(s) to which they contribute.
An external consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead they are within the area of the organization’s influence.
statutory expenditures (dépenses législatives)
Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.
Strategic Outcome (résultat stratégique)
A long-term and enduring benefit to Canadians that is linked to the organization’s mandate, vision and core functions.
sunset program (programme temporisé)
A time-limited program that does not have an ongoing funding and policy authority. When the program is set to expire, a decision must be made whether to continue the program. In the case of a renewal, the decision specifies the scope, funding level and duration.
A measurable performance or success level that an organization, Program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. Targets can be either quantitative or qualitative.
voted expenditures (dépenses votées)
Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an Appropriation Act. The Vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.