CBC News has filed a complaint with the federal information commissioner over the Department of National Defence's handling of an access to information request about its dentists.
The media organization claims the department failed to provide accurate, detailed information in a timely fashion. As a result, it is requesting a review of the way the request was handled.
CBC News asked for documentation on the amount of work performed by each dentist in the Canadian Forces since the beginning of 2007.
The Department of National Defence provided a list, but it did not include several specialists who performed no dental work. It also provided no information for 2010.
Dental officers in the military are salaried but use the Ontario Dental Fee Guide to track how much work they perform on patients.
A CBC investigation revealed about 75 per cent of the dentists — including many specialists — perform less than $200,000 worth of procedures a year. Many make between $200,000 and $300,000 a year, plus pension and other benefits.
CBC News wanted to see which of the approximately 140 dentists are underperforming and requested the numbers to be broken down by dental specialty and rank. The Department of National Defence said that level of detail prior to 2013 no longer existed.
In an internal email dated Sept. 24 and obtained by CBC News through the Access to Information Act, Lt.-Col. Brenda Joy wrote: "The data base used to generate the total dollar value per dentist report overrides this information each year, and only rank and general/specialty information for the current year (2013) is available. The Dental Directorate does not have this information for any other year besides 2013."
CBC News persisted and filed a similarly worded request the next month. It now appears neither went to the manager of the database known as DentIS, which holds the dental statistics.
"As the manager of the DentIS, I know better than anyone what information is stored in our database, what the system is capable of producing and how information should be presented in response to a public inquiry," Maj. Constantine Batsos wrote in an Oct. 31 email to Joy.
This exchange was also obtained through the Access to Information Act.
"As manager, I am also responsible for any information that is released from our database," Batsos wrote. "Misrepresenting and falsifying information in an ATI response is a criminal offence."
In an email a few days later, Col. James Taylor, the director of Dental Services, said it's his decision who handles dental-related information requests.
"I will state here that the responses to these were accurate and provided precisely what was requested," he wrote.
By early January, the military finally made a detailed breakdown available to the CBC News.
Complaints to the Office of the Information Commissioner can take months to resolve.