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Annual Report on the Privacy Act for the Period Ending March 31, 2011

1. Introduction

The Privacy Act extends to individuals the right of access to personal information about themselves held by a government institution. The Act also protects individuals’ privacy by preventing others from having access to their personal information. In addition, it limits federal institutions’ use of the personal information that they collect and retain.

Section 72 of the Privacy Act requires that the head of every institution subject to the Act submit an annual report to Parliament on the administration of the Act during the financial year. This report describes how Elections Canada administered its responsibilities under the Privacy Act during the fiscal year from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011.

1.1 Mandate of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, commonly known as Elections Canada, is an independent, non-partisan agency that reports directly to Parliament. Its mandate is to:

In fulfilling its mandate, Elections Canada appoints, trains and supports 308 returning officers, and retains the services of approximately 30 field liaison officers across Canada. It also maintains the National Register of Electors, which is used to prepare preliminary lists of electors at the start of electoral events, as well as electoral geography information, which provides the basis for maps and other geographic products used during electoral events.

The agency also:

In addition, the Chief Electoral Officer appoints the Commissioner of Canada Elections and the Broadcasting Arbitrator. The role of the Commissioner is to ensure that the Canada Elections Act and the Referendum Act are complied with and enforced. The Broadcasting Arbitrator is responsible for allocating free and paid broadcasting time among political parties and for arbitrating disputes that may arise between parties and broadcasters.

1.2 Structure of the Access to Information and Privacy Office

The ATIP Office is part of the Legal Services Sector and is managed on a full-time basis by the agency’s ATIP Coordinator, to whom the Chief Electoral Officer has delegated his authority under section 73 of the Privacy Act. A copy of the delegation order setting out the responsibilities under that Act appears in Appendix I of this report.

The ATIP Office is responsible for the following activities:

In the course of the reporting period, Elections Canada prepared to consolidate functions related to information management, records management and ATIP under the Chief Information Officer Sector. This change, effective April 1, 2011, aims to raise the focus on information management and bring more coherence to it, including the management of personal information. A second delegation of authority, signed March 17, 2011, is part of this consolidation process (see Appendix I).