Annual report to Parliament 2021-2022 – Privacy Act
Table of contents
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is pleased to present to Parliament its annual report on the administration of the Privacy Act (PA) for the 2021-2022 reporting period. This is done in accordance with section 72 of the PA, which requires the head of every government institution to submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act during the period beginning on April 1 of the preceding year and ending on March 31 of the current year.
The purpose of the PA is to extend the present laws of Canada that protect the privacy of individuals with respect to personal information about themselves held by a government institution and that provide individuals with a right of access to that information. The PA also regulates the collection, use and disclosure of personal information held by federal institutions including the NRC.
This 38th annual report on the administration of the PA at the NRC provides an overview of the activities by the organization undertaken during the 2021-2022 reporting period.
Mandate of the National Research Council of Canada
The NRC supports industrial innovation, the advancement of knowledge, technology development, and public policy mandates. The NRC plays a unique role in Canada, undertaking large-scale mission-oriented research and development programs. With a presence in every province, the NRC combines its strong national foundation with international linkages to help Canada grow in productivity and remain globally competitive. The NRC works in collaboration with industry, governments, and academia to maximize Canada's overall R&D investment.
I. Organizational structure and delegation of authority
From April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, the NRC's President delegated full authority for the application and administration of the PA to the Vice-President, Business and Professional Services, to the Chief Information Officer & Director General of Knowledge, Information and Technology Services, and to the Director, Library and Information Management Services. Partial authority was delegated to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Coordinator.
A copy of the current signed Delegation Order is included as Annex A.
During the 2021-2022 reporting period, the NRC's ATIP Office was part of the Library and Information Management Services Directorate within the Knowledge, Information and Technology Services Branch.
The ATIP Office has 4 full-time positions: 1 ATIP Coordinator, 2 Senior ATIP Officers, and 1 Junior ATIP Officer. During this reporting period, the NRC experienced challenges in staffing a full complement of ATIP Officers. As noted by other institutions subject to the Act, as well as by the Information Commissioner of Canada, a shortage of experienced ATIP personnel presents a challenge for staffing in both short and long term capacities.
The ATIP Office works closely with the NRC's Human Resources Branch, the Information Management team, executive advisors, the Communications Branch, and senior management across the organization.
The ATIP Office is responsible for the coordination and implementation of policies, guidelines, and procedures to ensure the organization's compliance with the PA. To this end, the Office provides the following services:
Promotes awareness of the PA within the organization;
Processes and manages personal information and complaints;
Manages the ATIP electronic case management system;
Processes consultations received from other institutions;
Provides professional advice and guidance to senior management and all departmental staff on the Act;
Prepares the annual report to Parliament and the annual statistical report;
Maintains NRC's Info Source chapter;
Assists in the privacy impact assessment process and in creating or modifying personal information banks;
Reviews departmental documents (such as audit and evaluation reports prior to their proactive disclosure on the organization's website), Parliamentary Questions and Harassment Reports for privacy-related considerations;
Develops internal procedures; and,
Participates in forums for the ATIP community, such as the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) ATIP Community meetings and working groups.
During the period covered by this report, the NRC was not party to any service agreements under section 73.1 of the PA.
The complete statistical report on the administration of the PA by the NRC from April 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, is included as Annex B. This section provides an interpretation of the statistics presented in that report.
During the 2021-2022 reporting period, the NRC received 13 new requests for personal information and 3 requests were outstanding from the previous period.
The figures, as reflected in the chart below, indicate the number of requests received and processed over the past 3 years. These figures do not include informal privacy-related queries received in the ATIP Office.
Long description for Chart 1: Volume of requests for personal information
Chart 1: Volume of requests for personal information
Of the 15 requests completed within the reporting period, 20% of records were "all disclosed" and 40% of records were "disclosed in part".
With regard to completion times, out of the 15 requests completed during this reporting period, 9 were completed within 30 days and 4 requests were closed past their statutory deadline, for 73% compliance with legislated timelines.
Long description for Chart 2: Number of days taken to complete requests
Chart 2: Number of days taken to complete requests
Number of days
Number of requests
1 to 30 days
31 to 60days
Over 61 days
Section 15 of the PA allows institutions to extend the time limit for processing requests for a maximum of 30 days if:
meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution; or,
consultations are necessary to comply with the request that cannot reasonably be completed within the original time limit.
Should the records require translation or conversion to an alternative format, a reasonable period of time may also be taken to extend the time limit.
The NRC invoked an extension in 2 cases where meeting the original time limit of 30 days would have unreasonably interfered with the operations of the organization due to the large volume of pages.
Sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the statistical report focus on the application of exemptions and exclusions under the PA. During this reporting period, the most commonly invoked exemption by the NRC was section 26 (information about another individual).
As per the following chart, the number of pages processed in response to requests for personal information increased from the 2 previous reporting periods.
Long description for Chart 3: Trends in number of pages disclosed
Chart 3: Trends in number of pages disclosed
During this reporting period, the ATIP Office did not process any consultation under the PA.
With regard for the provisions of the PA and in the context of its general responsibilities, the NRC's ATIP Office reviewed a total of 110 parliamentary questions received during this reporting period, compared to 145 reviewed in 2020-2021 and 105 reviewed in 2019-2020.
Long description for Chart 4: Parliamentary questions
Chart 4: Parliamentary questions
For the 2021-2022 reporting period, the NRC was asked to complete a supplemental report. This supplemental statistical report is included as Annex C.
To increase the knowledge and understanding of the PA across the NRC, training and awareness sessions are delivered to NRC employees. These sessions provide basic information on the purposes and provisions of the Act, roles and responsibilities, and general best practices (such as email management). All training sessions include information on the identification and management of personal information in accordance with the provisions of the PA as well as the Access to Information Act. During this reporting period, the ATIP Office delivered a total of 1 training session to 37 employees located in the National Capital Region and in regional offices. The ATIP Office also delivered training to small groups on requests throughout the reporting period.
In support of ATIP activity across the organization, tools and guidance are updated regularly and are made available on the NRC's external and internal websites.
The ATIP Office continually works to sensitize and educate employees, third parties and requesters regarding the requirements of the PA, through ongoing dialogue and bilateral discussions. During the reporting period, the ATIP Coordinator and officers responded to numerous inquiries from colleagues (Human Resources Branch, management, etc.), providing advice and guidance on various privacy-related matters.
Throughout this reporting period, the ATIP Coordinator and officers attended ATIP community meetings and various training sessions offered by the TBS.
VI. Monitoring of requests for personal information
In keeping with TBS policies and directives, the ATIP Office has established internal ATIP procedures and business practices to ensure the efficient and timely processing of personal information requests, while making every effort to assist applicants in the most expeditious manner without regard for their identity.
The ATIP Office uses a case management system that tracks both active and closed requests. This system is designed to follow the legislative deadlines.
The ATIP Office holds weekly meetings to discuss request-related activities, determine timelines and ensure that all team members are informed of the status of files. Weekly meetings also take place with the Director, Library and Information Management Services.
A report of active ATIP files (which maintains the privacy of the requesters' identities) is shared with the NRC senior management team every week and a more detailed report is provided to delegated authorities. A weekly report is also shared with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
No requests for the corrections to personal information were received by the ATIP Office during this reporting period.
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 2021-2022 period.
Access to Information and Privacy Act Delegation Order
The President of the National Research Council of Canada, pursuant to section 95 of the Access to Information Act and section 73 of the Privacy Act, hereby designates the persons holding the positions set out in the schedule hereto, or the person occupying on an acting basis the position, to exercise the powers, duties and functions of the President as the head of the NRC, under the sections of the Acts and related regulations set out in the schedule opposite each position. This designation replaces all previous designation orders.
Access to Information Act and regulations
Privacy Act and regulations
Vice-President, Business and Professional Services
Chief Information Officer and Director General, Knowledge, Information and Technology Services
Director, Library and Information Management Services
Access to Information and Privacy Coordinator
12(2) and (3)
27(1) and (4)
28(1), (2) and (4)
8(4) and (5)
9(1) and (4)
Dated, at the City of Ottawa
4 May 2020
President of the National Research Council of Canada