FCAC’s interpretation policy

From: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada

An interpretation policy is an overarching document that outlines the commitments, practices and tools to be applied by a department or agency when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations to be met. It also identifies the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.  

Agency context

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) is a federal government agency that works to protect consumers and inform them about financial products and services. FCAC is responsible for the following:

  • ensuring that the market conduct of regulated entities (REs) complies with federal legislation and regulations
  • promoting the adoption of policies and procedures designed to implement market conduct obligations by REs
  • monitoring REs’ compliance with their market conduct obligations
  •  informing consumers about their rights and responsibilities when dealing with REs and about the obligations of payment card network operators (PCNOs) to consumers and merchants
  • providing timely and objective information and tools to help consumers understand, and shop for, a variety of financial products and services
  • monitoring and evaluating trends and emerging issues that may have an impact on consumers of financial products and services.

This interpretation policy applies to interpretations provided to stakeholders in respect of regulations administered by FCAC that are made under legislation governing REs. This interpretation policy also covers codes of conduct and public commitments overseen by FCAC.  


Plain language commitment

FCAC is committed to providing clear, unambiguous and relevant regulatory interpretations in the official language in which the question was posed. Formal, written interpretations, such as FCAC Guidelines and FCAC Rulings, will be available in both official languages.

Providing guidance and building awareness

FCAC communicates with Canadians and businesses in various ways, including the following:

  • publishing various guidance documents, including FCAC Guidelines and FCAC Rulings, on its website
  • notifying stakeholders by email when new guidance is available
  • publishing FAQs on market conduct obligations that generate regular enquiries from stakeholders
  • updating stakeholders during regular meetings

Responding to questions

The way FCAC responds to requests for regulatory interpretations depends on whether the request is general or whether it is more technical or formal.

General regulatory questions:

Stakeholders who have questions of a general nature on a regulation that is administered by FCAC may contact FCAC by telephone, mail or email. FCAC will respond in a timely manner and using the same method used by the stakeholder, unless the stakeholder requests a different method of response. Before FCAC responds to a stakeholder’s question, FCAC may seek clarification or additional information from the stakeholder.

Technical questions or requests for formal guidance:

Sometimes, FCAC may respond to a stakeholder question by publishing a formal written interpretation, as in, for example, FCAC Guidelines or FCAC Ruling. These documents provide FCAC’s views on the application or interpretation of specific market conduct obligations overseen by FCAC.


Service commit​ment

FCAC adheres to the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada. FCAC is committed to delivering prompt, courteous and responsive service that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the public and respectful of individual rights. FCAC will treat business representatives, stakeholders and Canadians with respect and courtesy.

FCAC has also developed a values and ethics code to further guide and support its employees in their professional activities. FCAC promotes an organizational climate and working relationships based on the following core values: 

  • democratic service
  • respect for people
  • integrity
  • professionalism and stewardship
  • teamwork
  • creativity
  • proactiveness
  • impartiality
  • accountability
  • excellence

Service accountability

FCAC is committed to providing a level of service that meets the expectations of its stakeholders. FCAC maintains a Consumer Service Centre (CSC) that receives enquiries and responds to stakeholder questions and concerns. The CSC uses an electronic database that tracks stakeholder contact and ensures that all questions or comments receive a response when required. If the CSC cannot answer a question because of the subject matter, it will consult with appropriate subject matter experts at FCAC in order to provide an accurate response.

Staff training

FCAC is committed to ensuring that its employees have the skills and technical knowledge they need to provide quality service and accurate responses to regulatory questions. FCAC has developed internal procedures and reference materials for this purpose. 

Stakeholder engagement

Commitment to stakeholder engagement

FCAC is committed to engaging with its stakeholders, as appropriate, when developing, reviewing or refining practices and materials pertaining to regulatory guidance. FCAC routinely consults with the industry on regulatory guidance.

Stakeholder engagement practices 

FCAC engages its stakeholders through different means, including the following:

  • consultations on formal guidance issued by FCAC, to ensure that FCAC takes stakeholder views and concerns into consideration
  • stakeholder surveys, to provide feedback on how FCAC administers its mandate and deals with its stakeholders
  • stakeholder engagement sessions, to help build understanding and trust on issues of mutual interest and to capture and share knowledge about matters affecting the industry
  • regular meetings with stakeholders, including industry associations
  • speeches and presentations to stakeholders, to discuss particular areas of interest or concern and to outline how FCAC is addressing regulatory concerns 


FCAC is committed to continually improving the level of service it provides to its stakeholders.


In 2014-15, FCAC hired an outside company to conduct a survey about stakeholder perceptions of FCAC, which FCAC practices worked well, and which practices needed improvement. Based on the survey, FCAC identified areas to improve and developed a plan to address these areas.


FCAC will implement any needed improvements and will monitor its performance on an ongoing basis. FCAC will provide an update to stakeholders on its progress on implementing required improvements by March 31, 2017, as set out in the Treasury Board Secretariat's Guide for Developing and Implementing Interpretation Policies. 

Related reports


For more information

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

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