Interpretation Policy Improvement Priorities

The Public Health Agency of Canada (the Agency) assessed its interpretation practices in 2015, and with its stakeholders, identified several areas of improvement.

This page provides the progress, as of March 31, 2017, on the Agency's implementation of its Interpretation Policy Improvement Priorities. Performance metrics include progress against, and completion of, these areas of improvement.

1. Improving Predictability

Area of Improvement: Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

The Agency will:

Enhance accessibility of information by improving Internet usability and functionality

  • Progress Webpages were updated to streamline content and provide stakeholders with more relevant information:
    • On August 1, 2015, an online form was posted allowing users to request Ship Sanitation Inspections electronically. In addition, service delivery standards for public health activities on board conveyances and at ancillary services were shared on the webpage.
    • On December 1, 2015, webpages were updated to reflect the coming into force of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (HPTA) and the Human Pathogen and Toxin Regulations (HPTR).  The Biosecurity Portal was also launched to allow users to electronically apply for and manage an HPTA licence and notify the Agency reportable events such as exposures or laboratory acquired infections.
    • On January 14, 2017, an updated version of the Biosecurity Portal, which included enhancements, was launched to respond to feedback received from regulated parties.

    Provide expanded online training materials related to biosafety and biocontainment

  • Progress: The Agency updated its course on "Introduction to Toxins", and updated several other courses, including
    • Pathogen and Toxin Risk Assessment (September 14, 2016)
    • Introduction to Biosafety (February 14, 2017)
    • Laboratory Acquired Infections (February 15, 2017)
    • Personal Protective Equipment (February 17, 2017)
  • Anticipated updates:
    • General Safety for Containment Laboratories (anticipated by the end of March 2017)
    • Operational Practices in Containment Level 2 (anticipated by the end of March 2017)
    • Introducing Biosecurity (anticipated by April-May 2017)
    • New course offering: Operational Practices in Containment Level 3 (anticipated by April-May 2017)

    Develop Statements of Administrative Intent for stakeholders to clarify administrative interpretations of legislative and regulatory requirements

  • Progress: A Statement of Administrative Intent on "Exemptions from the Licensing Requirements of the HPTA and HPTR" was posted in fall 2015.

    Publish summaries of completed Agency risk assessments related to human pathogens and toxins

  • Progress: Having consulted with the Advisory Committee on Human Pathogens and Toxins to develop a risk assessment tool, the Agency is moving forward to establish a process to publish summaries of the results of risk assessments.  The expected target dated is winter 2018.

Area of Improvement: Increased use of Plain Language

The Agency will:

Ensure that information is communicated clearly, avoiding overly legal or technical terminology or "legalese" wherever practicable

  • Progress: When communicating information to stakeholders, the Agency uses generic terminology and only uses legal or technical scientific terminology where appropriate.

2. Stakeholder Engagement

Area of Improvement: Providing opportunities for stakeholder engagement

The Health Portfolio will:

Continue to improve the Consultation and Stakeholder Information Management System, which allows individuals and organizations to identify their areas of interest and manage their own engagement activities.

  • Progress: Instead of improving the Consultation and Stakeholder Management System, the Agency will use other communication tools, such as newsletters and the biosecurity portal functions, to notify individuals and organizations of upcoming consultation and engagement activities.

3. Service

Area of Improvement: Providing clear and consistent information to stakeholders

The Agency will:

Provide updated training to staff to enable consistent application of legislation and regulations

  • Progress: Various training to staff was provided on legislation and regulations:
    • Since November 2015, the Agency has participated in monthly meetings with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to discuss the interpretation of the Canadian Biosafety Standard, 2nd Ed., 2015 (CBS). These meetings are intended to support the consistent application and interpretation of the CBS requirements, as well as provide consensus on the type(s) of evidence both agencies will accept from regulated parties to demonstrate compliance.
    • In December 2015, a core compliance and enforcement training session was held for relevant Agency staff to provide clear guidance on when and how information obtained through legal regulatory inspections may be shared with other regulatory organizations in accordance with the Privacy Act.
    • Throughout the 2016-17 fiscal year, relevant Agency staff, including inspectors, attended more than 15 training courses related to the understanding, interpretation and enforcement of Acts and Regulations under the Agency's purview.

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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