ESDC's Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements

This policy outlines Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) approach to helping regulated parties understand their regulatory obligations.

ESDC context

ESDC, including Service Canada, continues to adapt to an ever-changing environment, which is characterized by significant demographic changes in Canadian society, global economic conditions that impact social and economic opportunities for Canadians, and rising service expectations by Canadians.

Implementation of the federal regulatory requirements under the Government’s Cabinet Directive on Regulations is undertaken within the broader context of continuously advancing key Government priorities, and streamlining the delivery of services to Canadians in areas of shared departmental responsibility such as improving the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to complement the regional needs of Canada's employers, in addition to ensuring an efficient Canadian labour market, and modernizing department interventions and transforming service delivery to achieve better results for Canadians. The Labour Program, while a part of ESDC, has also separately provided its commitments to providing clear and consistent interpretation of its regulations through its Interpretation Policy– Labour Program.

ESDC will endeavor to provide information to assist stakeholder’s understanding of their regulatory requirements.

Building an awareness of regulatory requirements

ESDC provides consistent and predictable regulatory interpretation by using clear and concise language to communicate the intent of regulatory requirements. Adjustments or improvements to guidance occur periodically to reflect regulatory changes or feedback from affected stakeholders.

ESDC builds awareness by annually publishing a Two-Year Forward Regulatory Plan, and keeping it up-to-date throughout the year, on the Department's intent to introduce or change regulations, including those which affect businesses.

Where possible, ESDC ensures consistency in program administration across Canada through program guidance documents which are shared across organizations and with stakeholders via open and timely communication.

Guidance documents and other relevant information can be accessed on the ESDC website, and are provided in plain language to the fullest extent possible. As well, consultation opportunities may be found on the Consulting with Canadians website and also on the ESDC Forward Regulatory Plan.

Responding to enquiries

ESDC responds to enquiries by stakeholders in a clear, consistent, and professional manner, in the official language of the stakeholder’s choice. ESDC generally responds to enquiries in the manner chosen by the client: i.e. written enquiries are responded to in writing and verbal enquiries are responded to verbally, unless requested otherwise by the stakeholder. Enquiries by stakeholders can be made:

  1. through Service Canada call centres (1-800-O-Canada) and other specialized call centres;
  2. in-writing, using online feedback forums, email, and correspondence; and
  3. in-person, at Service Canada offices across Canada

Responses to recurring enquiries are often included in Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) published on the department’s website.

Responses to enquiries are not binding on the department unless the department communicates otherwise to the stakeholder. Nothing in this Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements supersedes, overrides, or binds courts or tribunals. Furthermore, this Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements does not constitute legal advice.

Service standards with respect to timeliness vary across the department depending on the volume of enquiries a program receives and the complexity of the enquiry itself.

Commitment to professional service

ESDC provides clear and consistent interpretation of departmental regulations in plain language, to the best of the department's ability, to enable businesses to best meet regulatory requirements; consistent with the Government's Policy on Regulatory Transparency and Accountability. This commitment also applies to regulations relating to program areas shared with other government departments where ESDC is the department of first contact.

ESDC is committed to delivering reliable, timely, and professional service when dealing with Canadians and businesses in line with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector.

ESDC trains employees on regulatory and policy interpretation to ensure professional, accurate and consistent delivery of programs to business.

Departmental efforts are also guided by Service Canada Service Standards and other program-specific service standards such as the Registered Education Savings Program Service Standards.

ESDC engages other government departments as needed – especially in areas of shared program responsibilities for integrated information sharing.

Stakeholder engagement

ESDC is committed to connecting regularly with stakeholders through the use of existing mechanisms in order to track and respond to issues raised by business regarding regulatory guidance or answers to questions.

ESDC is committed to systematically engaging with stakeholders, where appropriate.

Typically, ESDC pre-publishes regulatory proposals in the Canada Gazette, Part I, which allows for a public comment period. Regulatory items can be exempt from pre-publication in cases such as regulations determined to be of low impact, miscellaneous amendments, grammatical corrections or typographical errors, and regulations which may respond to emergencies that pose major risks to health, safety, the environment, or security. For more information on the regulatory process please refer to the Policy on Regulatory Development.

Roles and responsibilities of ESDC as a regulator or program administrator and those of its partners can also be set out in signed agreements.

Also of note, on March 31, 2015, ESDC completed its baseline engagement with stakeholders to identify areas for improvement in its interpretation practices, which were addressed in March 2017.

Other stakeholder engagement mechanisms include:

  • Service Canada and program-specific call centres.
  • Electronic mailing lists.
  • Meetings or other means.

Date of last revision of this policy

This policy was last updated on March 31, 2019.

Consult ESDC’s acts and regulations web page for:

  • a list of acts and regulations administered by ESDC
  • further information on the ESDC’s implementation of government-wide regulatory management initiatives

Consult the following for links to the Cabinet Directive on Regulation and supporting policies and guidance, and for information on government-wide regulatory initiatives implemented by departments and agencies across the Government of Canada:

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit:

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