February 8, 2023

Minutes of the Audit and Evaluation Committee (AEC) Meeting

February 8, 2023
09:30am to 12:00pm
Hybrid Meeting
In-person and Microsoft Teams


Graham Fraser, External member – Chair

Janine Sherman, External member – Incoming Chair

André Grondines, External member

Caroline Maynard, Information Commissioner

Secretary to the Committee:

Bojana Terzic, Team Lead -Strategic Planning, Policy and Program Evaluation and Audit

Regular attendees:

France Labine, Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services, Strategic Planning and Transformation Services, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Audit Executive (CAE)

Senior Management Committee:

Layla Michaud, Deputy Commissioner, Investigations and Governance

Gino Grondin, Deputy Commissioner, Legal Services and Public Affairs 


Catherine Lapalme, Principal, Office of the Auditor General of Canada

Sébastien Lafond, Director, Finance, Procurement, Administration and Security and Deputy Chief Financial Officer (DCFO)

James Ellard, Senior Director, Public Affairs

Phil Carr, Evaluator, Samson Associates

Meeting Summary

Approval of Agenda and Record of Decisions and action items from the November 17, 2022 meeting.

Introduction of Incoming Chair, Mrs. Janine Sherman

Presentation of the Evaluation of Investigations Program (phase II evaluation) findings and the Management Action Plan (MAP).

Tabling of AE Annual Report by the Chair, Mr. Fraser

Tabling of RAC Plan by OAG

Sectorial Updates including Parliamentary Affairs directorate.

1. Welcome and Opening Remarks

The Chair and the Commissioner welcomed everyone to the meeting.

The Chair also reflected on the upcoming year that will bring more changes in the way work is done as the OIC (and GoC overall) move to hybrid work arrangements.

The Commissioner praised the staff for resilience and agility demonstrated during this period.

2. Introduction of the Upcoming Chair and Forward Calendar Approval

The Chair welcomed Mrs. Sherman, the new Chair of the AEC.

Forward Calendar was approved.

3. Minutes and Action Items from the November 17, 2022 Meeting

The members approved the minutes of the November 17, 2022 meeting.

The action items were reviewed and approved.

Action item:

  • Publication of the minutes of the November 17, 2022 meeting on the OIC website.

4. Phase II Evaluation Report, Investigations – Presented by P. Carr

- High level presentation of findings of the Evaluation of the Program Phase II

- Evaluation resulted in overall positive findings, reiterating that functional specialists at organizations as well as the OIC staff are true subject matter experts in field.

- There is a recommendation that the procedural information available to the institutions should be strengthened as well as collaboration with ATIP specialists and the frequent contact.

- External member questioned if the deadlines indicated in the MAP for achieving the recommendations are attainable.

- Mme Michaud responded that there is work underway that will serve as a foundation to build upon in order to attain those objectives

- She reiterated commitment of her team. External member congratulated team on dedication.

- Management Action Plan (MAP) was also presented by OIC Management.

- The Commissioner accepted the proposed MAP, explained that Phase II of Evaluation focused on Specialists (OIC and Institutions) in process, and provided additional information on planned consultations with Complainants. This will be a separate initiative, where information made public will be integrated with feedback mechanisms to ensure continuity in receiving feedback from complainants and support the Phase II of the OIC Accessibility Action Plan.

Action item:

  • Publish the Evaluation report on the OIC web site.
  • Publish OIC Management Action Plan on the OIC Web site and a new standing item on AEC forward agenda.

5. OAG, Recommendation and Action Plan – Presented by C. Lapalme

C. Lapalme presented RAC plan for the upcoming FY stressing that RAC will still focuses on Phoenix, capital assets over $2.5K (decommissioning) and IT controls.

She provided OAG Update including changes in the new accounting rules that is impacting mostly the provisioning of assets, therefore not a significant impact for OIC.

Mr. Grondines, OIC external member, asked what the key risks were as 75% of OIC spending is salary.

Mr. Fraser, AEC Chair asked why the audit took more time than originally estimated.

The OAG confirmed that more discussion was needed to get familiar with the new portfolio and that contributed to the additional number of hours spend on the audit (729 hours). From their perspective, Phoenix (salary related), cybersecurity, asset management (bulk buying) and anomalies found are the key risk areas.

Action items:

  • No Action Required.

6. Financial and Corporate Services Update – Presented by S. Lafond & F. Labine

S. Lafond presented Year-End Financial Forecasts. The Chair congratulated the OIC on results.

External Member enquired about additional funding request status.

The Commissioner expressed disappointment in lack of support in securing the funding form the government and explained the importance of seeking alternate funding methods as well as accountability models.

External Member questioned whether the demand was for human resources or the OIC Investment Plan (i.e Information Management and Information Technology) and the Commissioner provided the additional information (i.e. approximately $2 M for IM/IT and an additional $4M for augmenting the direct program delivery to support Legal and the Investigative functions).

External Member questioned about the new privacy obligations and the Commissioner explained how it mostly affects the Privacy Commissioner. 

J. Sherman asked about historical perspective on Legislative powers granted to the Commissioner (Bill C-58) and the Commissioner explained how the OIC wasn’t pre-consulted and adequately funded to implement full powers resulting from implementation of Bill C-58 such as publication of reports.

The Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services explained that her presentation, on exceptional basis, include the AEC Annual Report and CAE that cover period from 1 April 2021 to 31 December 2022 and provides the opportunity to Mr. Fraser to close his mandate as the Chair by tabling this report and the accompanying CAE report.

CAE provided an overview of Corporate Services sector and highlighted some recent changes in her sector, including arrival of Ann Mousseau, HR Director who now has the role of Chief HR Officer.

She provided some highlights of the IM/IT Investment Plan and the Funding pressure and risk management approach to be taken in the future and indicated that she will review the AEC forward calendar.

Mr. Fraser presented AEC Annual Report, reflected on his role over the past 3 years stressing that he was impressed how the OIC responded to the unprecedented challenges caused by pandemic. He further extended his gratitude to contributions of the External Member and thanked for his valuable input in the work of the AEC.

Committee members thanked Mr. Fraser for his strategic leadership and CAE added closing remarks in which she introduced that with the new Risk Framework the OIC starts the new RBAP cycle.

The members reviewed and discussed the information presented.

Action item:

  • No action required.

7. Investigations Update – Presented by L. Michaud

The Deputy Commissioner provided an update on the team’s results on the priorities for 2022–23 up to date such as the closure of investigation files, the management of inventory, the implementation of legislative amendments, the optimization of operations, and current statistics of complaints registered and closed. 

The Chair enquired about impact of return to workplace vs. hybrid and work from home on productivity. The Deputy Commissioner explained that her staff greatly adapted to the work from home conditions and that productivity increased during this period in spite of challenges that transition presented. She concluded that performance evaluation was well set for her sector and that both quality and quantity of work increased during this period.

The Chair asked if physical return to work would have possible negative impacts and the Commissioner explained that preliminary findings indicate that for certain functions within the organization work from home is preferable due to the need for uninterrupted time and focus on files. Further analysis will be done prior to making the final decision on best option for hybrid work.

The members reviewed and discussed the information provided.

Action item:

  • No action required

8. Legal Services Update – Presented by G. Grondin

The Deputy Commissioner, Legal Services and Public Affairs thanked Mr. Fraser for insights and guidance and provided an overview of the Legal Service activities, added information of how LS are integrated at the OIC into investigations process as well as collaboration with Corporate Svcs.

The members reviewed and discussed the information provided.

Action item:

  • No action required

9. Parliamentary Activities and Communication Update – Presented by J. Ellard

The Senior Director provided an overview of directorate and reflected on diverse functions that the team carries out. 

He provided an update on activities such as the Commissioner’s engagements, internal Communications, tabled reports, translation services, and ATIP. In addition, he provided the update related to Communication team and he explained how Investigations team plays pivotal role in external web site content.

Finally, Senior Director provided overview of ATIP team activities that strives for highest standards of practice and leading by example.

The Chair congratulated the unit on work and highlighted response to the recent Globe and Mail series of article on the status of information regime. He concluded that the Commissioner and the OIC preserved reputation of the expert and authority in field throughout the coverage and congratulated again the Comms team.

The members reviewed and discussed the information provided.

Action item:

  • No action required

In Camera Session

A brief in camera discussion was held with the Commissioner, the Chair and the two external members.

Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for June 7, 2023.

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