Annual Report on the Privacy Act 2011-2012
Tables of Contents
- Mandate of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada
- Roles and Responsibilities of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada
- Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office
- ATIP Governance Structure
- Delegated Authorities
- Interpretation of the Statistical Report
- Part 1 - Requests under the Privacy Act
- Part 2 - Requests closed during the reporting period
- Part 3 – Disclosures under subsection 8(2)
- Part 4 – Requests for correction of personal information and notations
- Part 5 – Extensions
- Part 6 – Consultations received from other institutions and organizations
- Part 7 – Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences
- Part 8 – Resources related to the Privacy Act
- Privacy–Related Training Activities
- Privacy –Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures
- Review – Management Accountability Framework
- Complaints and Investigations
- Federal Court Review
- Privacy Impact Assessment
- Appendix A – Statistical Report on the Privacy Act
- Appendix B – Additional Reporting Requirements - Privacy Act
The Privacy Act was proclaimed into force on July 1, 1983. The Act grants Canadian citizens, permanent residents or any person present in Canada a right of access to their personal information that is held by federal government institutions, subject to specific and limited exceptions, and to an independent review of decisions on disclosure.
This Annual Report is prepared and is being tabled before each House of Parliament in accordance with section 72 of the Privacy Act.
This Annual Report provides a summary of the management and administration of the Privacy Act within the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) for the reporting year 2011-2012.
The PPSC became subject to the Privacy Act when it was established as an independent organization on December 12, 2006. The PPSC was created with the coming into force of the Director of Public Prosecutions Act, Part 3 of the Federal Accountability Act. The PPSC replaced the former Federal Prosecution Service of the Department of Justice Canada.
Mandate of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada
The mandate of the PPSC is set out in the Director of Public Prosecutions Act. The Act empowers the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to:
- initiate and conduct federal prosecutions;
- intervene in proceedings that raise a question of public interest that may affect the conduct of prosecutions or related investigations;
- issue guidelines to federal prosecutors;
- advise law enforcement agencies or investigative bodies on general matters relating to prosecutions and on particular investigations that may lead to prosecutions;
- communicate with the media and the public on all matters that involve the initiation and conduct of prosecutions;
- exercise the authority of the Attorney General of Canada in respect of private prosecutions; and
- exercise any other power or carry out any other duty or function assigned by the Attorney General of Canada that is compatible with the office of the Director.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Act also empowers the DPP to:
- initiate and conduct prosecutions under the Canada Elections Act; and
- act, when requested by the Attorney General of Canada, in matters under the Extradition Act and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
With the exception of Canada Elections Act matters, the Attorney General of Canada can issue a directive to the DPP in respect of a prosecution or assume conduct of a prosecution, but must do so in writing and a notice must be published in the Canada Gazette. In turn, the DPP’s accountability to the Attorney General, and to assist the Attorney General in deciding whether to give direction in, or assume conduct of, a case, the DPP must inform the Attorney General of any prosecution or planned intervention that may raise important questions of general interest.
Roles & Responsibilities of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada
The PPSC provides prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across Canada and prosecutes offences within federal jurisdiction. In total, over 250 federal statutes contain offences that fall under the PPSC’s jurisdiction to prosecute. However, charges are regularly laid under approximately 60 of those statutes.
The PPSC is not an investigative agency and conducts a prosecution when a charge of violating federal law has been laid by an investigative or law enforcement agency, following an investigation.
In all provinces and territories, except Quebec and New Brunswick, the PPSC is responsible for prosecuting all drug offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, regardless of which police agency investigates the alleged offences. In Quebec and New Brunswick, the PPSC prosecutes only those drug offences that were investigated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
In all provinces and territories, the PPSC prosecutes violations of federal statutes such as the Income Tax Act, the Fisheries Act, the Excise Act, the Customs Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and the Competition Act, as well as conspiracies and attempts to violate these statutes.
In the three territories, the PPSC is responsible for prosecuting all Criminal Code offences. In the provinces, the PPSC has jurisdiction to prosecute a limited number of Criminal Code offences, including those related to terrorism, criminal organizations, money laundering, proceeds of crime and fraud. Under arrangements with the provinces, the PPSC may also prosecute Criminal Code offences that are otherwise within provincial jurisdiction when the accused also faces drug-related charges.
Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office
The ATIP Office is the focal point for the application of access to information and privacy legislation at the PPSC. The mandate of the ATIP Office is to implement and administer the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. The ATIP Office deals directly with the public in relation to access to information and privacy requests and, in collaboration with the Offices of Primary Interest (OPIs), serves as the centre of ATIP expertise in enabling the PPSC to meet its statutory obligations under these Acts.
The ATIP Office undertakes the responsibility of the administration of the Privacy Act (Act) by:
- processing requests for information submitted under the Act in accordance with legislation, regulations and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) policies, directives and guidelines;
- responding to consultations submitted by other federal institutions on PPSC records being considered for release;
- responding to requests received from other federal institutions for the review of solicitor-client privilege in records related to criminal proceedings in which the PPSC is involved;
- developing and providing guidance to PPSC managers and staff regarding the interpretation and application of the Act and other related TBS policies and guidelines;
- reviewing departmental policies, procedures and agreements to ensure that they are in compliance with the provisions of the Act and making recommendations for amendments;
- monitoring and advising on the organization’s compliance with the Act, regulations, procedures and policies;
- acting as the point of contact for the PPSC in dealings with the TBS, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and other government departments and agencies;
- reviewing the organizations documents relevant to proactive disclosure prior to publication on the PPSC’s website, such as audits and evaluations, and contracts over $25,000, in order to ensure that such disclosures do not compromise legal proceedings or contain personal information;
- coordinating the preparation of the PPSC chapter of the federal government’s Info Source publication;
- preparing the annual report to the TBS and Parliament on the Privacy Act; and
- participating in ATIP forums, such as the TBS’ ATIP Community meetings, and working groups.
During the reporting period of April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, the ATIP Office continued to face challenges in retaining experienced and qualified personnel. The PPSC’s ATIP office had a staff turnover rate of 50%.
ATIP Governance Structure
During the 2011-2012 reporting period, the PPSC formalized its ATIP Governance Structure, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of all employees and clarifies how the PPSC meets both its access to information and privacy obligations.
The chart above provides a diagram of ATIP roles, responsibilities and accountabilities within the PPSC. It should be read in conjunction with the descriptions contained below.
ATIP Coordinator: The Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Ministerial and External Relations Secretariat, is the PPSC’s ATIP Coordinator pursuant to a delegation made by the DPP under the Acts, and plays an oversight role in relation to the application of the Acts, the regulations, and related policies, directives, and guidelines.
ATIP Counsel: The Counsel, Ministerial and External Relations Secretariat, provides ATIP-related legal advice to the ATIP Coordinator, the ATIP Office, and PPSC managers.
Manager, Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP Manager): The ATIP Manager has direct, daily responsibility for the management of the ATIP Office by coordinating all activities relating to the operation of the Acts and the regulations, as well as meeting related TBS ATIP policies, directives and guidelines.
ATIP Advisors: The ATIP Advisors are responsible for processing ATIP requests. The Advisors act as a liaison between the requester and the Point(s) of Contact in PPSC Regional Offices and Headquarters.
ATIP Junior Analyst - The Junior ATIP Analyst carries out administrative duties and assists the ATIP Advisors and the ATIP Manager in the processing of ATIP requests. The Junior Analyst also processes low complexity ATIP requests and acts as a liaison between the requester and the Point(s) of Contact in Regional Offices and Headquarters.
Accountability & Shared ATIP Responsibilities
Director of Public Prosecutions - The DPP is the PPSC’s
“Head of Institution” for the purposes of the Acts. The DPP has overall responsibility for ensuring that the organization complies with the Acts, the regulations, and related TBS policies, directives and guidelines.
A/Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (A/DDP) - Regulatory & Economic Prosecutions and Management Branch: The A/DDP is responsible for assisting in fulfilling PPSC’s ATIP obligations to ensure compliance with the ATIP legislation, its Regulations, and related TBS and PPSC policies and directives.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DDP) - Drug, National Security & Northern Prosecution Branch: The DDP is responsible for assisting in the fulfillment of PPSC’s ATIP obligations to ensure compliance with the ATIP legislation, its Regulations, and related TBS and PPSC policies & directives.
Points of Contact: Headquarter Directors and Chief Federal Prosecutors: As the Points of Contact, Headquarter Directors and Chief Federal Prosecutors are responsible for fulfilling their Offices and Regions ATIP obligations, issuing ATIP-related instructions to their employees and/or agents, and serving as liaison with the PPSC ATIP Office to ensure compliance with the ATIP legislation, its Regulations, and related TBS and PPSC policies and directives.
Managers, Team Leaders, Supervisors, and Agent Supervisors: These individuals are responsible for assisting and issuing instructions to staff in fulfilling ATIP obligations to ensure compliance with the ATIP legislation, its Regulations, and related TBS and PPSC policies and directives. They are also required to examine and/or make inquiries into any issues brought to their attention concerning the ATIP legislation.
Employees and Agents: The employees and agents are responsible for fulfilling their duties to ensure compliance with the ATIP legislation, its Regulations, and related TBS and PPSC policies and directives. PPSC employees and agents are responsible for ensuring that any records they created are properly managed to facilitate access to that information.
Under section 73 of the Privacy Act, the head of a government institution may by order designate one or more officers or employees of that institution to exercise or perform any of the powers, duties or functions of the head of the institution under this Act. Full delegated authority is provided to the Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Ministerial and External Relations Secretariat, and also to the Manager of the Access to Information and Privacy Office.
Access to Information Act and Privacy Act Delegation Order
The Director of Public Prosecutions, pursuant to section 73 of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the persons occupying on an acting basis those positions, to exercise the powers and functions of the Director as the head of a government institution.
Position: Executive Director and Senior Counsel, Ministerial and External Relations Secretariat
- Privacy Act and Regulations: Full authority
- Access to Information Act and Regulations: Full authority
Position: Manager, ATIP, Access to Information and Privacy Office
- Privacy Act and Regulations: Full authority
- Access to Information Act and Regulations: Full authority
Dated, at the City of Ottawa, this 11 day of January, 2010
Director of Public Prosecutions
Interpretation of the Statistical Report
The following provides interpretations of the summarized statistical information contained in Appendix A of this Annual Report. This report will also compare data from 2011-2012 with data from the previous five reporting periods to identify and examine possible trends.
PART 1 – Requests under the Privacy Act
The PPSC received thirteen (13) formal privacy requests during the 2010-2011 reporting period. No requests were carried over from the previous reporting period. This represents an increase of 62% from the previous reporting period.
PART 2 – Requests closed during the reporting period
Disposition of requests completed
Eleven (11) of the thirteen (13) requests were completed during this reporting period. Two (2) requests were carried over into the 2012-2013 reporting period. The completed requests are categorized as follows:
Percentage of the Disposition of Requests
*No records were all disclosed, all exempted or all excluded during this reporting period.
The cases where access could not be provided fell into the following categories:
No records exist
One (1) request could not be processed as no relevant records existed under the control of the PPSC.
Two (2) requests were abandoned by the respective applicants. In both cases, the applicant was asked to provide clarification as the submitted request was found to be either too broad or unclear. The applicant was advised in writing that he or she had 30 days to contact the ATIP Office. For each of the cases, no clarification was received and the request was deemed abandoned.
Percentage of Disposition of Requests over the last Five Reporting Periods
The percentage of requests where no records exist increased considerably over the previous five reporting periods. These include a number of requests where the PPSC had no information concerning the applicant or the applicant’s prosecution. Often in such cases, requesters have been redirected to provincial freedom of information offices.
The time required to process the eleven (11) completed privacy requests during the 2011-2012 reporting period is summarized below:
Percentage of Requests by the Completion Time
During the 2011-2012 reporting period, 55% of requests were completed within the 30-day statutory deadline. No requests during this period required more than 120 days to complete.
Percentage of Requests by Completion Time over the last Five Reporting Periods
During the last five reporting periods, the majority of privacy requests were completed within the 30-day statutory deadline.
Section 2.2 of the Statistical Report illustrates the types of exemptions applied by the PPSC in accordance with the Act in the processing of requests during 2011-2012.
Percentage of Exemptions Applied
The PPSC applied three (3) exemptions in 2011-2012, namely sections 26 [Information about another individual], 27 [Solicitor-client privilege] and subparagraph 22(1)(a)(ii) [Law enforcement and investigation] of the Act.
The PPSC files contain a significant amount of personal information, including information about accused, witnesses, and victims. The majority of the exempted information was captured under sections 26 and 27 of the Act due to the mandate of the PPSC.
Exemptions applied over the last Five Reporting Periods
A review of the major exemptions that were applied during the last five reporting periods revealed that section 26 is the provision that is most often cited. The number of section 27 exemptions that have been applied by the PPSC has increased over the period; however, such increase is commensurate with the increase in the number of requests received year over year.
The Privacy Act does not apply to library or museum material preserved solely for public record, material placed in Library and Archives Canada, or records considered to be confidences of the Queen's Privy Council, pursuant to sections 69 and 70 of the Act respectively.
The PPSC has not invoked any exclusions under the Privacy Act since the PPSC’s inception.
Format of information released
Statistics are based solely on those requests for which information was disclosed. Access to the relevant documents was given in part for eleven (11) requests. Paper copies were provided in all these cases.
Due to the nature of the organization’s work, processing privacy requests at the PPSC is complex. The mandate of the PPSC is to prosecute offences under federal jurisdiction and to provide advice on prosecution-related matters to investigative agencies. Records of the PPSC often contain information relating to criminal or regulatory investigations or prosecutions as well as the PPSC's work involving other organizations and departments at the federal, provincial or territorial level. The PPSC must consult with these other organizations and carefully consider the legal impact of disclosure of such information.
During the 2011-2012 reporting period, the PPSC sought legal advice twice and consulted with other government institutions on three occasions.
The PPSC was in deemed refusal twice during the last reporting period. In the first instance, the PPSC was seven days late due to consultations with another government institution. In the second instance, the PPSC was twenty-five days late. The request at issue concerned a large number of records for which the PPSC sought legal advice.
Requests for translation
There were no requests for translation from one official language to the other.
PART 3 – Disclosures under subsection 8(2)
Subsection 8(2) of the Privacy Act describes the circumstances under which personal information under the control of the government institution may be disclosed without the consent of the individual to whom the information pertains.
The PPSC did not make any disclosures under subsections 8(2)(e) [to an investigative body for the purpose of enforcing any law of Canada or a province or carrying out a lawful investigation] or subsection 8(2)(m) [public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy] during this reporting period.
PART 4 – Request for correction of personal information and notations
There were no requests for correction of personal information nor notations required during this reporting period.
PART 5 – Extensions
Reasons for extensions and disposition of requests
Section 15 of the Privacy Act allows institutions to extend the 30-day deadline for processing a request if meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution or if the institution must consult with other government institutions.
Reasons for Extensions Taken by Percentage
Four (4) extensions of 30 days each were taken during 2011-2012 reporting period. The statutory deadline was extended in three (3) cases on the basis that meeting the original time limit would have unreasonably interfered with the operations of the PPSC. In one case, the 30-day extension was taken to allow for the PPSC to consult with other government institutions.
PART 6 – Consultations received from other institutions and organizations
In total, the PPSC received ten (10) privacy consultations from other government institutions during the 2011-2012 reporting period.
Percentage of Consultations Received from other Institutions
The majority of consultations were sent by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). These account for 70% of the total number of consultations received.
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) submitted only one (1) privacy consultation; however, this accounted for 97% of the privacy consultation workload, namely, 5,068 pages.
Eight (8) of the ten (10) consultations were completed within 15 days. The remaining two (2) consultations required 36 and 67 days respectively to complete.
The PPSC recommended full or partial disclosure for 90% of the records it received for consultations during 2011-2012 reporting period.
PART 7 – Completion time of consultations on Cabinet confidences
During the 2011-2012 reporting period, the PPSC had no requirement to conduct consultations on Cabinet confidences.
PART 8 – Resources related to the Privacy Act
The PPSC spent a total of $135,470 administering the Privacy Act of which salaries accounted for $127,893 and Goods and Services accounted for $7,557. There were no overtime expenditures or professional service contracts during this reporting period.
Privacy Costs over the last Five Reporting Periods
The cost of the administration of the Privacy Act at the PPSC over the last five reporting periods peaked in 2010-2011 and declined slightly in subsequent reporting periods.
Low costs during the 2007-2008 reporting period are likely attributable to the fact that the PPSC was a newly created organization and requesters were not fully aware of the PPSC and its roles and responsibilities.
Since 2010-2011, the PPSC has increased its capacity to develop its internal ATIP policies, guidelines, and procedures, which has resulted in overall savings in the administration of the Privacy Act.
Privacy-Related Training Activities
During this reporting period, a training and awareness session regarding the PPSC’s ATIP processes and employee obligations under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act was conducted in Winnipeg by the PPSC’s ATIP Office. Fifty-two (52) paralegals from across the organization participated in this session. Similar training was delivered in the National Capital Region in October during the Corporate Services Forum. Approximately fifty (50) employees participated in the Forum.
In addition, informal access to information-related training was provided to PPSC employees throughout the year on an ad hoc basis.
Privacy-Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures
Review – Management Accountability Framework
As part of the Management Accountability Framework (MAF) assessment, the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) gave the PPSC an acceptable rating for fiscal year 2011-2012 in privacy-related categories (MAF subsections 12.5 and 12.6), determining that the organization had effectively met the requirements of the Privacy Act.
Complaints and Investigations
To ensure that government institutions comply with their privacy obligations, and that all requesters are treated fairly and consistently, section 29 and sections 41 to 52 of the Privacy Act provide for a review of decisions made under the Act. The first level of review is a formal complaint to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada; the second is an application for judicial review to the Federal Court.
During this reporting period, three (3) complaints were filed with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) against the PPSC. The OPC investigated one (1) refusal complaint regarding the PPSC’s application of exemptions and one (1) complaint regarding the time extension taken by the PPSC. The third complaint alleged that the PPSC misused and wrongfully disclosed personal information.
All three complaints are still before the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. No findings have been issued to date.
Federal Court Review
During this reporting period, no application for judicial review was filed with the Federal Court pursuant to section 44 of the Act.
Privacy Impact Assessment
A Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) is a tool which can help an organization meet its privacy responsibilities with regards to the management of personal information. PIAs are initiated when assessing the privacy implications of new or substantially modified programs and activities involving personal information.
During this reporting period, the PPSC did not initiate or complete any Privacy Impact Assessments.
Appendix B - Additional Reporting Requirements – Privacy Act
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) has initiated no (0) Privacy Impact Assessments during the 2011-2012 reporting period.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) has completed no (0) Privacy Impact Assessments during the 2011-2012 reporting period.
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