Administration of the Access to Information Act Annual Report
April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023


The Access to Information Act gives Canadian citizens the legislated right to access information in federal government records, subject to certain limitations and specific exemptions. The Act complements other methods for obtaining government information, and does not limit in any way the access to federal government information that is normally available to the public upon request.

This report is prepared by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in accordance with section 94 of the Access to Information Act and section 20 of the Service Fees Act and is tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Health in accordance with the aforementioned section. It describes how CIHR fulfilled its responsibilities under the Act during the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2022 and ending March 31, 2023.

CIHR was created in 2000 under the authority of the CIHR Act as the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. The mandate of CIHR as stated in the Act is:

To excel, according to internationally accepted standards of scientific excellence, in the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians, more effective health services and products and a strengthened Canadian health care system.

CIHR is the largest funder of health research in Canada. Composed of 13 “virtual” Institutes and three business portfolios, CIHR provides leadership and support to over 15,000 world-class researchers and trainees from all pillars of health research and from all regions of Canada.

Organizational Structure

CIHR is led by a President and a Governing Council comprised of up to 18 members appointed by Order-in-Council. The Governing Council sets the overall strategic direction and goals. It establishes Health Research Institutes and determines the mandate of each. As outlined in the legislation, the Governing Council is responsible for developing its strategic direction and goals; evaluating its performance, approving its budget; establishing a peer review process for research proposals submitted to CIHR; approving funding for research; approving other expenditures to carry out its objective; establishing policies; and dealing with any other matter that the Governing Council considers related to the affairs of CIHR.

The Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Office, part of the CIHR’s Strategic Policy Division, administers the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act for the CIHR and is accountable to the President of CIHR. The ATIP Compliance Office, which is comprised of one Senior ATIP Coordinator, one Senior ATIP Analyst and one Junior ATIP Officer. In addition, in 2022-2023, CIHR engaged the services of one consultant. The ATIP Office is responsible for the following activities:

In accordance with the Access to Information Act, an area on the premises of this institution has been designated as a public reading room. This can be found at 160 Elgin Street, 9th floor, Ottawa, Ontario.

CIHR was not party to any service agreements under section 96 of the Access to Information Act during the 2022-2023 reporting period.

Delegation of Authority

The President of CIHR, as designated Head of CIHR under the Access to Information Act, exercises powers entrusted to the position by the Act, such as exemptions and exclusions.

In accordance with his authority under Section 73, the President has designated the Executive Vice-President; the Associate Vice-President, Government and External Relations; the Director General, Strategic Policy; the Senior ATIP Coordinator, the Senior ATIP Analyst and the Junior ATIP Officer to exercise his powers, duties or functions under the Act (See Appendix A - Delegation Order).

Performance 2022-2023

During the April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 reporting period, CIHR received 23 requests and had six requests carried over from previous reporting periods, for a total of 29 formal requests. Out of these 29 requests, 23 were treated in the 2022-2023 fiscal year and six were carried over to the next fiscal year. One request was carried over from 2019-2020 and one request was carried over from 2018-2019. Both of the requests carried over for more than one fiscal year are not within legislated timelines. CIHR was consulted on 16 requests from other federal institutions and one request from an external organization.

Formal requests tend to be concerned with the administration of daily activities of CIHR.

a. Formal Requests

A total of 29 requests were active during this reporting period, 23 of which were completed. (See Appendix B - Statistical Report). Of the 23 requests completed, 10 were completed within the first 30 days of reception, 4 requests were completed within 31-120 days and 5 requests required 121-365 days. Two requests had no records found. Two of the 23 requests treated in 2022-2022 were disclosed in full representing 8.7% of total requests, while 16 were disclosed in part representing 69.5% of total requests. Two requests were transferred to other government institutions and one request were abandoned.

A total of 6880 pages were processed and 1441 pages were disclosed in 2022-2023. Two requests represented 4256 pages (61.8%) of the total volume of pages processed. During this period, 61% of the requests (14) were processed within the legislated time limit, compared to 60% in 2021-2022 and 64.86% in 2020-2021. Of the nine requests that were not closed within legislated timelines, five were due to workload and four were due to external consultation requirements.

As illustrated in Table 1, the number of pages of records received and processed per request in 2022-2023 was comparable to the pages and requests received and processed in 2021-2022. The subject matter of requests remained similar to previous years and. upward trend on requests related to proactive disclosure material that was noted in 2021-2022 continues to be noted during this reporting period. In response to the Government of Canada’s commitment to open government access and transparency, CIHR continues to make documents available to the public on an Open Government portal. The requests carried over demonstrates the fact that the requests received were highly complex in nature, requiring a high level of effort to process. Furthermore, the requests that needed to be carried over for processing are a result of increased strain on resources. Between October and December, 2022 (Q3) CIHR engaged the services of a consultant to address the strain on resources and review requests that are beyond the legislative timelines.

Table 1: Pages Received and Processed
2018-2019 2019-2020 2020-2021 2021-2022 2022-2023
Requests Processed 16 13 37 30 23
Pages Released 7358 1899 1502 1858 1441
Pages Processed 8553 2068 3641 10625 6880
Requests Carried Over 2 5 6 6 6

b. Informal Requests

In 2022-2023, CIHR received five informal requests. One request was completed and four were carried over. The one request that was treated was completed in 61-120 days and 162 pages were released.

c. Sources of Requests

In 2022-2023, 35% of requests were received from the media, 52% were from the public, 9% were from academia and 4% from businesses. No request was received from private organizations. In 2022-2023, the source of requests has remained largely consistent with the average source of request by category, however an absence of requests from private organizations is noted. Comparatively, 2020-2021 saw 21% of requests from private organizations.

Table 2: Access to Information Requests 2023-2023
Long description
Source Number
Media 8
Organisations 0
Public 12
Academia 2
Businesses 1

Since 2017-2018, the media has been the source of 69 requests, the general public has been the source of 67 requests and academia has been the source of 21 requests. ATI requests have also been submitted by 28 organizations and 10 businesses. The largest source of requests between 2017-2018 and 2022-2023 was the media with 61 requests, representing 36% of the total requests. The percentage of requests received from the public this year has increased significantly and we saw a slight decrease in media requests

d. Consultation Requests

During the 2022-2023 reporting period, the CIHR ATIP Office received 16 consultation requests from federal departments, one consultation from an outside organization and carried over one consultation from the 2021-2022 reporting period. This was a decrease from the 26 consultations received in the previous fiscal year. Two consultations were recommended for partial disclosure and 15 were recommended for full disclosure. Of the 18 consultations processed, eight were completed in 1-15 days, seven in 16-30 days and three in 31-60 days.

The volume and nature of these consultations tend to be similar to those of requests for information CIHR receives on an annual basis, focusing primarily on CIHR programs and initiatives. In 2022-2023, CIHR was consulted on 639 pages of records and in 2022-2023 a total of 584 pages were received for consultation. The number of pages received for consultation is comparable to the previous fiscal year but it represents an increase in the average size of consultation from 23.7 pages to 32.6 pages.

Additionally, the ATIP office provided internal advice, guidance and recommendations on a variety of Access to Information issues related to CIHR programs and initiatives.

e. Processing Requests

The CIHR makes every possible effort to process requests within the 30-day time limit as required by the legislation. However, some delays may be incurred when requests received by CIHR contain third-party information, which triggers the requirement for consultations, or when a significant volume of records must be treated for a request.

In 2022-2023, 9 requests required an extension and in some instances, extensions for interference with operations/workload and external consultations were both required on a request: In total 5 extensions were cited due to interference with operations/workloads, and 4 extensions required external consultations. This represents extensions for 39% of all requests processed during the reporting year, compared to 67% in 2021-2022 and 35.14% in 2020-2021. Increased response times when consulting with other government institutions were encountered.

Training and Awareness

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, ATIP related training was provided on request to staff at all levels through eight customized sessions. While most of these information sessions focused on privacy, there were nevertheless key concepts related to access to information and information management that were covered as well. These sessions were presented with a goal to enhance the knowledge, skills and perspectives of all employees, concerning Access to Information and Privacy. The CIHR ATIP Office continues to develop educational tools and deliver training sessions to CIHR staff. This has been identified as a key priority for 2023-2024.

Policies, Guidelines, Procedures and Initiatives

While there were no significant revisions to current access to information policies, guidelines or procedures, CIHR dedicated time to reviewing efficiencies in the Access to Information process.

Proactive Publication Under Part 2 of the ATIA

CIHR is a government institution listed in Schedule II (section 2) of the Financial Administration Act for the purposes of Part 2 of the ATIA. As set out in sections 82 to 88 of the Access to Information Act, CIHR is subject to the following proactive publication requirements:

Travel Expenses 82
Hospitality Expenses 83
Reports tabled in Parliament 84
Contracts over $10,000 86
Grants & Contributions over $25,000 87
Packages of briefing materials prepared for new or incoming deputy heads or equivalent 88(a)
Titles and reference numbers of memoranda prepared for a deputy head or equivalent, that is received by their office 88(b)
Packages of briefing materials prepared for a deputy head or equivalent’s appearance before a committee of Parliament 88(c)

In 2022-2023 48% of CIHR’s proactive publication requirements due during the reporting period were published within the legislated timelines. CIHR’s proactive publications can be found on the Open Government portal

Initiatives and Projects to Improve Access to Information

As part of a broader process led by TBS, CIHR is in the process of securing a new Request Processing Software Solution (RPSS). The options currently being explored will offer significant improvement and automation to the processing of requests. In addition to a new RPSS, the CIHR ATIP Office obtained new software for the purpose of providing response packages to requestors in accessible formats, particularly those relying on screen readers.

During the 2022-2023 fiscal year, CIHR allocated resources to secure consulting services. These services were utilized to process ATIP requests received by CIHR and have proven to be an effective method during periods of high volume.

Summary of Key Issues and Actions Taken on Complaints

During the 2022-2023 reporting year, one complaint was received. No complaints were closed this fiscal year. CIHR continues to engage with the Office of the Information Commissioner on 3 outstanding complaints, two from 2019-2020 and one from 2016-2017.

Access to Information Fees for the Purposes of the Service Fees Act

The Service Fees Act requires a responsible authority to report annually to Parliament on the fees collected by the institution. With respect to fees collected under the Access to Information Act, the information below is reported in accordance with the requirements of section 20 of the Service Fees Act.

Monitoring Process

The ATIP Office monitors the time to process requests and administer the Access to Information Act through weekly verbal status reports and a weekly written status report is provided to the Health Minister’s Office for their information. Any issues of significant interest are discussed with the President and Communications department on an as needed basis.

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