Interpretation Policy

This interpretation policy outlines the commitments, practices, and tools applied by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on meeting regulatory obligations. It also identifies the conditions under which the CFIA will provide written responses to questions.

Agency Context:

The CFIA is a science-based regulator, dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants. In support of Government of Canada priorities, the CFIA strives to:

  • protect Canadians from preventable health risks
  • protect consumers through a fair and effective food, animal and plant regulatory regime that supports competitive domestic and international markets
  • sustain the plant and animal resource base, and contribute to the security of Canada's food supply and agricultural resource base.

The CFIA will, to the extent possible, endeavour to provide information to assist regulated parties and stakeholders in understanding their regulatory obligations. The following describes CFIA's commitments in the areas of Predictability, Service, Stakeholder Engagement and Improvement.

Predictability:

The CFIA is committed to being fair and consistent in the application of regulations.

Plain Language Commitment

  • CFIA commits to have its regulations and guidance documents drafted in as plain languageFootnote i as possible, limiting the use of specialized or technical language to those instances where it is necessary.
  • CFIA is committed to the publication of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for all new or amended regulations that have business impacts. The CFIA has posted FAQs for its most accessed regulationsFootnote ii to its website.
  • CFIA is committed to publishing FAQs for the areas of improvement identified through stakeholder check-ins, as well as for recurring questions.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

  • CFIA is committed to communicating regularly with Canadians and its stakeholders to promote awareness and understanding of regulatory compliance requirements, through compliance promotion activities and use of online consultation/surveys, webinars and town halls, to facilitate the continual development of regulations and guidance tools.
  • CFIA is committed to developing products, such as guidance material, that are adapted to the needs of each regulated sector.
  • CFIA is committed to improving the accessibility of information regarding regulations and policies for regulated parties by making greater use of centralized services where there is a benefit to regulated parties. For example, the CFIA is making regulatory guidance documents more accessible to stakeholders through its online Guidance Document Repository, a single repository for all guidance documents.

Responding to Questions

  • CFIA is committed to responding to inquiries by stakeholders and Canadians in, to the extent possible, plain language, and in a clear, consistent and professional manner, in the official language of inquirer's choice in accordance with the requirements found in the Official Languages Act (OLA), and the Agency's Policy on Official Languages, in the form that the enquiries are made, either orally or written, or as appropriate.
  • CFIA commits to responding to enquiries in a timely manner. The CFIA strives to acknowledge receipt of enquiries within five business days. The CFIA does not provide legal advice to third parties about how specific regulations may apply to particular circumstances.
  • FAQs addressing recurring enquiries are posted to CFIA's website.

Service:

Commitment

  • The CFIA is committed to provide timely, professional, courteous, impartial and respectful service, in both official languages as appropriate. A modern, digital service strategy is a key priority at the CFIA.
  • As a science-based regulator, the CFIA commits to service excellence and ensuring industry understands its role, responsibilities and accountabilities through robust compliance promotion activities, and standardized, modern and user-friendly services. The CFIA strives for continuous improvement in its processes and practices.

Accountability

  • CFIA provides services that are consistent with its regulatory obligations. The CFIA has published a Statement of Rights and Service for Producers, Consumers and Other Stakeholders, as well as six accompanying guides to inspection to offer stakeholders and CFIA staff a clear, plain language explanation of the CFIA's commitment to
    • transparent decision making;
    • accessible and timely information;
    • fair, respectful and unbiased interactions with stakeholders; and
    • responsiveness and continuous improvement.
  • To support continuous improvement to regulatory program delivery, transparency and predictability, the Complaints and Appeals Office provides an avenue for stakeholders to register complaints and appeals related to quality of service, administrative errors and regulatory decisions.

Staff Training

  • The CFIA continues to support employees by providing them with the necessary training to deliver high quality, professional services and to provide accurate, consistent and up-to-date information on regulatory requirements.

Stakeholder Engagement:

As a regulator, the CFIA engages with stakeholders, including the following groups:

  • Regulated parties: individual companies and, in some cases, academia, including Official Language Minority post-secondary institutions, and government institutions, including Industry Value Chain Round Tables and Industry led Advisory committees
  • Non-governmental organizations: representative industry associations and groups, and other non-governmental organizations
  • Indigenous and other cultural groups
  • Canadians: including consumers and consumer associations and groups, and other non-regulated parties such as micro and small businesses
  • Other federal government departments and other levels of government: provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as established Federal/Provincial/Territorial mechanisms
  • International stakeholders: foreign governments, international organizations
  • Official Languages Minority Community (OLMC) organizations and industry groups.

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

  • The CFIA is committed to transparency, through the ongoing application of the Agency's Transparency in Regulatory Decision Making Policy.
  • The CFIA is committed to engaging and consulting with Canadians and other stakeholders, as appropriate, to understand their perspectives on significant regulatory, policy and program issues that impact them. To develop effective policies and strategies, the CFIA actively seeks out and values the perspectives of stakeholders who are affected by its decisionsFootnote iii.

Stakeholder Engagement Practices

  • The CFIA engages regularly with its stakeholders through a variety of mechanisms in the regulatory development process. The CFIA's Consultation Policy and Framework aims to improve transparency and reduce duplication of efforts through an integrated, coordinated and consistent consultation and engagement process. As example, to foster ongoing dialogue, the CFIA further leverages stakeholder involvement through:
    • Industry Value Chain Round Tables
    • Industry led Advisory committees
    • Federal/Provincial/Territorial mechanisms
  • The CFIA take proactive measures to consult with Official Languages Minority Community organizations, where appropriate, and in keeping with its obligations under Part VII of the Official Languages Act related to the advancement of English and French.
  • Consultation opportunities can be found on CFIA's website and the Consulting with Canadians page on the website of the Government of Canada.
  • Stakeholders are also made aware of consultation opportunities through posting of the Forward Regulatory Plan on CFIA's website.
  • In addition to consultations, issues and concerns raised by regulated and non-regulated parties during ongoing contact are considered in the development of related materials and other additional outreach activities.

Improvement

The CFIA has assessed its current practices, and, with its stakeholders, has identified several areas of improvement. The CFIA is committed to implementing these improvements and will update Canadians on progress by March 31, 2017. Performance metrics will include progress toward, or completion of, the identified areas of improvement.

The CFIA is committed to performing regular check-ins with stakeholders on practices to identify further areas for improvement in the delivery of regulatory programs.

Related Reports

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