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Section I: Overview

1.1 Message from the Information Commissioner of Canada

Robert MarleauI am pleased to present this 2008-2009 Report on Plans and Priorities, which sets out the strategic direction, priorities, expected results and spending estimates for the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada for the coming fiscal year.

When I took office on January 15, 2007, my first commitment to Parliament as Information Commissioner of Canada was to continue the great tradition of the Office in advocating the benefits of open government and ensuring that the rights of Canadians who submit a request under the Access to Information Act are respected. Canadians expect their government to be accountable. It is my role to provide independent oversight of the handling of access to information requests by federal institutions. Canadians complain if they feel they have not had fair access to information under the control of the federal government. My Office will be unwavering in its pursuit to uphold Canadians’ right to information on the government’s activities in a fair and comprehensive manner.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Access to Information Act. Today, we live in a very different world than that of 1983, when the Act came into force. I believe the Act, and the administration of the Act, is sound in terms of concept, structure and balance, but in this era of information and knowledge-based society, the Act needs to adapt to the realities of the 21st century and to the complexity of the issues facing government today. The OIC will work collaboratively with the Department of Justice and the Treasury Board Secretariat to advance legislative and administrative reform of the Act.

The Office has maintained a consistent record of resolving almost all complaints without recourse to legal action. However, our efforts to improve the timeliness of our investigations have not been equally successful due to a combination of factors. The coming into force of the Federal Accountability Act, which has substantially increased the number of institutions that are subject to the Access to Information Act, and the Office’s large workload, are testing our ability to deliver on our mandate.

As such, the next fiscal year promises to be a challenging one. The Office of the Information Commissioner will make it a priority to build its organizational capacity to improve its service delivery to Canadians. We will continue to work toward the successful resolution of individual complaints through a collaborative approach with federal institutions. We will make it our priority to improve the timeliness of our own response to complaints by streamlining our investigative process. An important step to achieve this goal will be to take firm action to address the backlog of investigations that has built up over time. We propose to achieve this by the end of fiscal year 2009-2010. We will proactively address systemic issues and federal institutions’ overall performance by way of a revised Report Cards process and aim to strengthen their influence on government. This process will be aligned with the government’s performance measurement cycle and allow for more meaningful review by parliamentarians. We will also focus on enhanced transparency for the Office’s work as we strive to maximize the information we provide to parliamentarians, government institutions and Canadians about our processes and decisions, while preserving confidentiality under our Act.

Robert Marleau
Information Commissioner of Canada


1.2 Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2008-2009 Report on Plans and Priorities (RPP) for the Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada (OIC).

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2008-2009 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
  • It is based on the OIC’s Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved planned spending numbers from the Treasury Board Secretariat.



Suzanne Legault
Assistant Commissioner

Policy, Communications and Operations


1.3 Raison d’être

The Office of the Information Commissioner ensures that the rights conferred by the Access to Information Act (Act) are respected, thereby enhancing transparency and accountability across the federal government.

The OIC is also committed to undertaking thorough, fair and timely investigations of complaints made against federal institutions under the Act. As such, it will afford complainants, heads of government institutions, and all third parties affected by complaints, a reasonable opportunity to make representations.

1.4 Organizational Information

The Office of the Information Commissioner’s organizational chart below is followed by a description of each function.

Organizational Chart

The Information Commissioner carries out the duties and responsibilities set out for him in the Access to Information Act. In particular, he promotes the need for openness of government, active participation of citizenry in the democratic process and accountability of federal institutions with regard to their handling of information under their control. He takes responsible actions to ensure that the Act is working effectively. As an agent of Parliament, he provides relevant information to Parliament, as well as objective advice, about the access to information implications of legislation, jurisprudence, regulations and policies.

The Assistant Commissioner, Complaints Resolution and Compliance, directs investigations and dispute resolution efforts concerning complaints filed under the Access to Information Act, oversees broad systemic reviews of institutions’ compliance with the Act, provides advice and recommendations on solutions or measures to be taken in regard to complaints received or initiated by the Commissioner under the Act, and acts as ombudsperson with senior officials of federal institutions to resolve complaints.

The Assistant Commissioner, Policy, Communications and Operations leads the overall strategic and corporate planning of the OIC, directs the provision of corporate management and operational services, ensures the updating and relevance of the Office’s policy, procedure and governing frameworks, contributes to the development of governmental policy as it relates to access to information, leads outreach and external relations program including dealings with Parliament, and directs system wide compliance programs.

The Director of Legal Services and General Counsel represents the Commissioner before the courts and provides legal advice on investigative, legislative and administrative matters.

The Director of Human Resources provides strategic advice, management and delivery of human resource management programs such as staffing, classification, staff relations, employment equity, planning, learning and development, compensation and official languages.

1.5 Program Activity Architecture (PAA) Crosswalk

The Office of the Information Commissioner’s Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture (PAA) structure have remained unchanged in its substance: a single Strategic Outcome and a single Program Activity. Only minor terminology revisions were made twice to the PAA: first in May 2007 to comply with Step 1 implementation of the Management Resources and Results Structure (MRRS) Policy, and second in November 2007 to comply with Step 2 implementation of the same policy. The former and current PAA is listed below:

Former PAA shown in our last RPP

Current PAA

Strategic Outcome: Strategic Outcome:
Individuals’ rights under the Access to Information Act are safeguarded. Requestors’ rights under the Access to Information Act are respected.
Program Activity:

Assess, investigate, review, pursue judicial enforcement, and provide advice

Program Activity:

Compliance with access to information obligations

1.6 Expected Results

Figure 1 (below) outlines the results that parliamentarians and Canadians may expect to attain from the Office of the Information Commissioner activities.

Figure 1: OIC Results Framework

Strategic Outcome

Requestors’ rights under the Access to Information Act are respected.

Program Activity

Compliance with access to information obligations

Expected Results Requestors benefit from a fair and effective complaints resolution process.



Stakeholders understand the role and perspective of OIC in ensuring compliance with the Access to Information Act. Federal institutions meet their obligations under the Access to Information Act. The Courts receive useful representations and relevant evidence about access issues, the proper interpretation of the provisions of the Access to Information Act, related statutes, regulations and jurisprudence. Parliament receives clear, relevant information and timely, objective advice about the access to information implications of legislation, jurisprudence, regulations and policies.
Outputs Reports of Findings to Complainants Departmental reviews ("Report cards") Communications activities and materials Judicial activities

1.7 Voted and Statutory Items Displayed in Main Estimates

($ thousands)

Vote or
Statutory Item

Truncated Vote or Statutory Wording

Main Estimates

Main Estimates


Program expenditures




Contributions to employee benefit plans



  Total Department



1.8 Planned Spending and Full-Time Equivalents


($ thousands)

Forecast Spending








Compliance with access to information obligations








Total Main Estimates





TB Vote 22 - Operating budget carry forward


TB Vote 15 - Collective Agreements





TB Vote 23 – Paylist requirements


Funding to comply with the requirements Federal Accountability Act




Total Adjustments





Total Planned Spending





Plus: Cost of services received without charge





Total Departmental Spending





Full-time Equivalents





Explanation of spending trend: the decrease in total planned spending and the number of FTEs in 2009-2010 and ongoing is related to the temporary resources to eliminate the backlog received to the end of 2008-2009 only.

1.9 Financial and Human Resources

The following two tables present the financial and human resources of the OIC over the next three fiscal years.

Financial Resources ($ thousands)







Human Resources (planned)




90 FTEs*

82 FTEs*

82 FTEs*

* FTE: Full-Time Equivalent