Regulatory Reviews progress update (Rounds 1 and 2)

The update below provides an overview of the progress that departments and agencies have made in implementing the Regulatory Roadmaps from Rounds 1 and 2.

Roadmap-specific updates are also available by sector on the following pages:

Update on Regulatory Roadmaps


The Government of Canada launched the Regulatory Reviews in Budget 2018 as part of broader plans to modernize Canada’s regulatory system. Coordinated by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), working in partnership with other departments and agencies, the Regulatory Reviews examine federal regulatory requirements and practices to uncover and address potential barriers to innovation and economic growth in Canada.

The Regulatory Reviews help make Canada’s regulatory framework more flexible, transparent and responsive to the needs of business while continuing to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment. Stakeholder input is critical to the success of the Regulatory Reviews, as insights and collaboration help identify burdensome, duplicative or outdated regulatory processes, policies or requirements.

Since 2018, six Regulatory Roadmaps (plans of action) have been published, identifying over 100 concrete actions from 14 departments and agencies to:

  • support regulatory modernization
  • respond to stakeholder issues and irritants
  • advance novel regulatory approaches

The first round of Regulatory Reviews focused on three high-growth sectors and resulted in 72 initiatives across three Regulatory Roadmaps,Footnote 1 published in June 2019:

The Government of Canada committed up to $207 million over five years in Budget 2019 to support the implementation of initiatives from first-round Regulatory Roadmaps.

The second round of Regulatory Reviews focused on three themes and resulted in 36 initiatives across three Regulatory Roadmaps, published in June 2021:

The Government of Canada committed up to $56 million over five years in Budget 2021 to support implementation of initiatives from second-round Regulatory Roadmaps.

To support transparency and accountability, the Government is providing updates on progress in implementing these Regulatory Roadmaps. This update on both Round 1 and Round 2 follows a first update on the implementation of Round 1 Roadmaps, posted in February 2021.

Key outcomes

Initiatives across the Roadmaps relate to various components of the regulatory life cycle. This includes engaging in consultations and using stakeholder perspectives to inform proposed regulatory changes to support:

  • pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I
  • final publication in the Canada Gazette, Part II

For instance, initiatives under Round 1 have resulted in over 20 regulatory changes to rules governing foods, hatcheries, fertilizers, aquaculture, pest control, drugs and medical devices, natural health products, and vessel and navigation safety.

Other initiatives focus on regulatory management, for instance, where departments and agencies are advancing compliance promotion activities and outreach, measuring performance, or providing information to clarify regulations and regulatory responsibilities. Across the Roadmaps, initiatives have resulted in updated online regulatory guidance for stakeholders in various areas, including novel foods, advanced therapeutics pathways, and automated driving systems.

In other cases, Roadmap initiatives involve legislative amendments, including those currently being advanced through the second Annual Regulatory Modernization Bill (Bill S-6, An Act respecting regulatory modernization).

While many initiatives focus on regulations or legislation, including seeking new ministerial authorities under applicable acts, Roadmaps also encompass non-regulatory initiatives, such as:

  • harmonization efforts with other jurisdictions
  • improving back-end departmental systems and processes
  • commissioning research to help guide the approach to addressing stakeholder concerns

Additionally, departments and agencies continue to advance regulatory innovation, for instance, by conducting pilot projects and using findings to facilitate industry’s adoption and use of new technologies. The TBS Centre for Regulatory Innovation has provided support for initiatives across the six Roadmaps to help advance this type of work.

Across the six Regulatory Roadmaps, almost 40% of initiatives are now complete and advancements have been made in almost all other initiatives. Roadmap initiatives have helped advance important outcomes that improve Canada’s regulatory framework, including reducing burden, enhancing flexibility and supporting innovation. Examples of key recent outcomes achieved are highlighted below.

Reducing administrative burden experienced by stakeholders due to existing processes and regulations

Reducing unnecessary administrative burden can include, for example, reducing duplication, streamlining reporting, or improving other regulatory practices or processes, as appropriate, which can save time and costs for businesses and Canadians.

For instance, as noted in the Agri-food and Aquaculture Roadmap, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) committed to increase the number of digital tools and services that are available to stakeholders. In 2019, the CFIA launched MyCFIA, its online digital platform. MyCFIA provides stakeholders with 24/7 electronic access to a variety of services. For example, electronic services are available for:

  • requesting licences and permits
  • applying for export certificates
  • managing service requests
  • setting reminders when a licence or registration is due or set to expire

With MyCFIA, stakeholders no longer have to manage these reminders or call a local office to inquire on the status of an application. Certain businesses can now apply and receive certificates electronically instead of mailing the required forms and waiting for them to be returned. To date, almost 27,000 companies use this platform to interact with the CFIA. Additionally, since 2019, over 144,000 service requests have been submitted through the platform for import permits, certain product registrations, licences and certificates.

Given this uptake, the CFIA has found that industry prefers electronic interaction. For instance, since 2019, almost all applications for food licences have been submitted through MyCFIA. Additionally, in 2021–22, 86% of applications for plant import permits (approximately 6,400) were submitted electronically. Implementing digital tools:

  • reduces administrative burden
  • enhances service delivery
  • supports the global trade of goods

Minimizing prescriptive regulatory requirements, where appropriate, helping to inform outcome-based regulations

Opportunities to identify where regulations could be more focused on the desired result, rather than the specific process or action that must be followed, can include examining outdated regulatory requirements. An example is a requirement to submit information by fax, which does not allow for the adoption of more modern submission approaches. Amending such rules to meet current realities helps make regulatory compliance more efficient by decreasing the resources that regulated parties spend to meet requirements.

For instance, as part of the Digitalization and Technology-Neutral Regulations Roadmap, the Canada Revenue Agency worked with the Department of Finance Canada to propose legislative changes that would enable electronic signature options to certain taxation forms under the Income Tax Act and the Tax Rebate Discounting Act. These e-signature measures were included in Bill C-47 (Budget Implementation Act, 2023), which received royal assent on June 22, 2023.

The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy also explored ways to improve its processes by enabling the use of current technology. For instance, in January 2022, the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy made permanent a temporary change enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed licensed insolvency trustees to conduct assessments of individual debtors by video conference (see Directive No. 6R5: Assessment of an Individual Debtor).

The Agri-food and Aquaculture Roadmap includes several actions that support clear, non-prescriptive and responsive regulations. The CFIA has been engaged in a broad regulatory modernization agenda and has completed a number of regulatory initiatives since the Roadmap was published. These initiatives include making the compositional standards for vodka more outcome-oriented by expanding the list of agricultural ingredients that industry can use to produce vodka. It also includes modernizing the Fertilizers Regulations by implementing a risk-based approach to reduce the volume of products requiring pre-market assessment.

In July 2022, the CFIA updated its regulations in support of the Food Product Innovation initiative to remove prescriptive and duplicative requirements. In November 2022, the CFIA published its modernized hatchery regulations, which were updated to keep pace with advances in science and technology, including by incorporating documents for reference to allow for more timely updates.

In addition, Health Canada made regulatory amendments for marketing authorizations for food additives and published final regulations for supplemented foods, both of which are part of the broader food innovation regulatory initiative. Through these actions, Health Canada created a new regulatory regime for supplemented foods, allowing for greater predictability and stability for regulated parties.

Finally, amendments to the Atlantic Fishery Regulations and Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations from Fisheries and Oceans Canada have come into force, exempting the shellfish aquaculture industry in Atlantic Canada and Quebec from unnecessary regulatory restrictions on routine activities. This exemption has provided a more effective and efficient means for the shellfish aquaculture industry to carry out its activities by reducing red tape.

These regulatory initiatives:

  • remove rigid requirements
  • provide regulated parties with greater flexibility in meeting regulatory outcomes
  • improve alignment with Canada’s major trading partners

Strengthening regulatory coordination, cooperation, and harmonization (interdepartmentally, interprovincially and internationally)

Departments and agencies look to improve regulatory coordination across the federal government and with other levels of government, and to harmonize with international partners. This coordination can include increasing the level of participation in standards-setting bodies and aligning regulations with international best practices to reduce the impact of differing regulatory regimes on industry.

For instance, Natural Resources Canada established an internal International Standards Secretariat in 2021 to lead the development of a departmental framework, an initiative under the International Standards Roadmap. The International Standards Secretariat aims to improve interdepartmental coordination, information sharing, and oversight of international standards and regulatory cooperation activities. The Secretariat also seeks to support the department – in collaboration with the Standards Council of Canada, Global Affairs Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, and other federal organizations – in identifying and responding to trade irritants linked to international standards or technical regulations. In 2023, the Secretariat is taking steps to plan the development of the international standards framework that seeks to advance Canada’s natural resources innovation and trade interests.

Supporting Canada’s pandemic response

A key to Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting economic recovery, and strengthening future emergency preparedness was making temporary regulatory flexibilities permanent where they improved regulatory practices and processes without compromising health, safety or security.

Health Canada’s interim orders to import and sell COVID-19-related drugs and medical devices introduced temporary regulatory approval pathways that helped expedite authorizations for COVID-19-related health products. These interim orders leveraged the agile regulatory solutions and legislative changes made through the Budget Implementation Act, 2019, No. 1, which had been outlined as part of the Health and Biosciences Roadmap, and included the ability to apply terms and conditions on market authorization for drugs, medical devices and clinical trials. This approach balanced the need to provide the population of Canada with timely access to new and innovative technology with the need for appropriate levels of oversight of safety and effectiveness evidence. Since then, certain interim orders have been turned into permanent COVID-19-related regulations in anticipation of requiring these mechanisms beyond their initial time frame.

Additionally, through its Agile Regulations initiative, Health Canada is proposing new regulatory provisions to further modernize the drug and medical device framework beyond only COVID-19 applications. These amendments consider the lessons learned from piloting efforts to date through the COVID-19 interim orders.

Encouraging regulatory innovation, including by advancing private-public sector collaboration

Identifying and testing innovative approaches or products can include collaborative pilot projects with industry to test new approaches in a real-world setting within specified parameters.

For instance, as part of the Transportation Regulatory Roadmap, Transport Canada is conducting commercial testing related to airspace and air traffic management to inform the development of a regulatory framework that supports the future of aviation and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) technology. In August 2022, Transport Canada completed two airspace traffic management trials with Canadian companies. The results from these trials will be used to inform future commercial testing of remotely piloted aircraft systems operating beyond visual line-of-sight and future regulatory development that supports innovation in the aviation industry.

Improving the ability of regulatory frameworks to support innovation and adoption of new technology

Through the Regulatory Reviews, departments and agencies are encouraged to pursue opportunities to accommodate regulated parties’ use of emerging technologies. Such opportunities can include identifying gaps in current regulations and clarifying the market framework to reduce barriers that impede products from entering the market.

For instance, Natural Resources Canada has been taking steps to establish a clear regulatory framework under the Canada Energy Regulator Act to encourage renewable energy projects (for example, wave and tidal energy used to generate zero-emission renewable electricity) in federal offshore areas as part of the Clean Technology Roadmap. Since the launch of the Offshore Renewable Energy Regulations Initiative in October 2020, Natural Resources Canada published a What We Heard Report in December 2021 and consulted with the public in 2022 on the technical requirements that serve as the foundation for the future proposed regulations. The offshore renewable energy regulations are nearing final draft, with publication of the proposed Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, targeted for early 2024.

Further details on each of these initiatives, as well as the range of other outcomes achieved or underway, are described in the Roadmap-specific updates.

Looking forward

Federal departments and agencies have completed or are continuing to implement more than 100 distinct initiatives, representing a comprehensive suite of work to advance regulatory modernization across key sectors and themes. While each individual initiative responds to an identified need, opportunity or stakeholder concern, the process of conducting a Regulatory Review and the outcomes stemming from the Roadmap also contribute to a broader cultural change within the regulatory community. The Regulatory Reviews have introduced one more tool that departments and agencies can utilize to help new and existing regulations meet current realities and expectations facing Canadians and businesses.

In Budget 2021, the Government of Canada launched a third round of Regulatory Reviews. Topics under this round focus on regulatory modernization related to Canada’s blue economy and supply chains. Like the first two rounds of Reviews, TBS will work with participating departments and agencies to identify opportunities to support economic growth, competitiveness and innovation through the regulatory framework.


The underlying focus of all Roadmaps is to advance initiatives that accelerate growth, competition and innovation in the Canadian economy while continuing to uphold Canada’s health, safety, security and environmental objectives.

The departments and agencies involved in the Regulatory Reviews are committed to continuing to implement their initiatives and to communicating results to their stakeholders. In many cases, departments and agencies have advanced actions that go beyond the milestones committed to in their original initiatives, as their work has revealed further opportunities to support broader policy commitments, as well as pandemic response and recovery. Looking ahead, remaining Roadmap actions are expected to continue to make meaningful progress and support a more agile and responsive regulatory system in Canada.

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