Interpretation policy

In keeping with the Government’s Red Tape Reduction Action Plan, the Labour Program is committed to providing clear and consistent interpretation of its regulations in plain language to enable businesses to meet regulatory requirements. This commitment also applies to regulations related to program areas shared with other government departments where the Labour Program is the originator of the regulation.

Departmental/agency context

The Labour Program develops interpretations, policies and guidelines (IPGs) for specific provisions of the acts and related regulations under its responsibility, including the Canada Labour Code, the Employment Equity Act and the Government Employees’ Compensation Act. IPGs are intended to ensure that legislation is interpreted consistently and that programs are delivered effectively across the country by Labour Program employees trained in interpretation of regulatory requirements. In support of the Government's commitment to reduce regulatory red tape burden for employers, the Labour Program ensures that its IPGs are updated, easily accessible, written in plain language, and based on stakeholder needs and feedback.

The Labour Program is committed to providing the best possible advice and information to stakeholders, bearing in mind that this advice does not supersede or alter the requirements of laws or regulations.

This policy has four pillars:


The Labour Program ensures consistent and predictable regulatory interpretation in plain language in accordance with the Communication Policy of the Government of Canada by:

  • publishing a Forward Regulatory Plan, updated twice yearly, that provides information on new regulations the Labour Program plans to introduce or changes to regulations affecting businesses that the Labour Program expects to bring forward over the next two years.
  • obtaining feedback from stakeholders through open and timely consultations;
  • ensuring consistency in the application of its regulations across the country;
  • using clear and concise language to communicate the intent of regulatory requirements;
  • making adjustments and improvements to guidance on an ongoing basis; and
  • posting frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) for the top 10 most accessed Labour Program regulations on the Internet. These FAQs are regularly updated to include responses to regulatory questions received from stakeholders on a recurring basis.

Service commitment

The Labour Program is committed to providing excellent service to businesses and to all Canadians. This includes service timeliness in responding to stakeholder inquiries. The Labour Program:

  • is modernizing its services, including replacing time-consuming paper reports with online reporting tools that make it easier for employers to meet their obligations under the Canada Labour Code and other legislation under the responsibility of the Labour Program;
  • provides information about federally regulated employment standards, health and safety, pay equity and workers' compensation through its website, and responds to questions received by telephone and through its Contact us webpage;
  • trains employees to ensure professional and consistent service to businesses and individuals across the country; and
  • provides written guidance to questions on regulatory requirements submitted by email. Requests for interpretative guidance can be submitted to The Labour Program will provide a response by email within ten business days, including an estimated timeline for answers requiring further research or consultation.

Stakeholder engagement

The Labour Program is committed to routinely engaging stakeholders in its efforts to expand and raise awareness of initiatives to prevent workplace hazards; improve compliance with labour standards; and ensure that federal employees are properly compensated for injuries incurred on the job.

  • To hear firsthand about the issues that employers and employees face, the Labour Program conducts outreach activities throughout the year for employers and employees:
    • on their obligations as prescribed in acts and regulations under the responsibility of the Labour Program; and
    • on upcoming regulations and policy development.
  • Feedback from businesses and individuals helps the Program develop and improve interpretations and guidance and identify regulations that require additional clarification.
  • Regulatory proposals are published in the Canada Gazette, Part I.

Improvement and accountability

  • By March 31, 2015, the Labour Program will consult with those who are affected by its regulations to identify areas where it could provide clearer guidance on regulations and more clearly communicate its compliance expectations to business.
  • During 2015-17, the Labour Program will review its performance and the feedback obtained from stakeholders and take appropriate measures to improve its delivery of regulatory programs.
  • The Labour Program will continue to monitor performance and, by March 2017, will report improvements made and future priorities on its Acts and Regulations webpage.

The Labour Program welcomes your input, which we will use to improve our practices. Please send your comments or questions on our regulatory requirements and on this interpretation policy to:

Disclaimer: These pages have been prepared for reference only.

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians websites.

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