How Canada’s regulatory system works

From: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting and advancing the public interest in health, safety and security, the quality of the environment, and the social and economic well-being of Canadians through an effective, efficient, and accountable regulatory system. Canada’s regulatory system is internationally recognized as among the best in the world.

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat supports the federal regulatory system by:

  • Providing federal regulatory policy and oversight
  • Supporting evidence-based Governor in Council decision-making, and
  • Advancing and promoting regulatory cooperation

Consultation on Regulatory Modernization

On June 29, 2019 the Government of Canada launched a public consultation on a number of initiatives intended to modernize the Canadian regulatory system. All interested Canadians are invited to provide input on four regulatory modernization initiatives:

  • Targeted Regulatory Reviews (Round 2)
  • Review of the Red Tape Reduction Act
  • Exploring options to legislate changes to regulator mandates
  • Suggestions for the next annual Regulatory Modernization Bill

Learn more about each initiative at and share your views with us by responding to by September 5, 2019.

The Cabinet Directive on Regulation

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for the Cabinet Directive on Regulation. The Cabinet Directive on Regulation is the Government of Canada’s overarching regulatory policy framework that lays out the rules and requirements regulators must follow when they develop and implement regulations.

The Cabinet Directive on Regulation ensures that regulations promote innovation and economic growth, while protecting the health, safety, security, social and economic well-being of Canadians, and the environment.

The Cabinet Directive on Regulation replaces the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management, dated April 1, 2012.

TBS provides policies, guidance, and tools to help departments and agencies implement federal regulatory policy requirements as set out in the Cabinet Directive on Regulation.

Regulatory cooperation

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for leading the Government of Canada’s activities related to regulatory cooperation. The Government of Canada works with partners in the United States (U.S.), European Union (E.U.), and domestically with provinces and territories to reduce unnecessary regulatory differences and eliminate duplicative requirements and barriers between jurisdictions.

Learn more about regulatory cooperation and the initiatives that the Government of Canada is involved in, including:

  • the Canada-U.S. Regulatory Cooperation Council
  • the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement – Regulatory Cooperation Forum, and
  • the Canadian Free Trade Agreement: Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table

Regulatory reviews

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is leading the Government’s work to modernize Canada’s regulatory system. Targeted Regulatory Reviews are exploring ways to reduce barriers to innovation, economic development, and investment in the Canadian economy, and to help ensure that the Canadian regulatory system can accommodate emerging technologies and businesses.

Budget 2018 announced targeted Regulatory Reviews starting with three initial high growth sectors:

  • agri-food and aquaculture
  • health and bio-sciences
  • transportation and infrastructure

These targeted Regulatory Reviews focus on identifying and addressing regulatory irritants and bottlenecks to innovation, competitiveness, and economic growth.

The Government conducted extensive consultations over the summer and fall of 2018 including an online public consultation through the Canada Gazette, which are summarized on in a What We Heard Report.

Budget 2019 announced that “Regulatory Roadmaps” that address stakeholder issues and irritants in these sectors will be published. It also identifies funding and legislative revisions so that regulatory departments and agencies can move forward on implementing the proposals in the Roadmaps.

Regulatory Roadmaps for the first round of Reviews on agri-food and aquaculture, health and bio-sciences, transportation, and infrastructure are now publically posted on departmental websites. They can also be accessed at Targeted regulatory review. These Regulatory Roadmaps lay out the government’s plans to modernize regulatory frameworks and support innovation and economic growth, without compromising our health, safety, security, and environmental protections. 

The External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat provides secretariat support for the External Advisory Committee on Regulatory Competitiveness announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2018 and Budget 2019. The Committee was established on May 3, 2019 and is comprised of business, academic and consumer representatives from across the country. It will assist the Treasury Board in identifying ways to support the modernization of Canada’s regulatory system and improve regulatory competitiveness in Canada while ensuring Canadians’ health, security and safety, and the protection of the environment.

The Committee has provided advice on the second round of Targeted Regulatory Reviews.

Learn more about the Committee members, meeting dates, agendas and minutes.

Oversight and public reporting

Public reporting is an important element of a transparent regulatory system. The President of the Treasury Board reports regularly to Parliament and to the Canadian public on key regulatory initiatives such as cost-benefit analysis in regulatory proposals, as well as the One-for-One Rule as required by the Red Tape Reduction Act. These reports help to communicate the intended benefits of the regulatory system, and highlight efforts undertaken to limit the burden imposed on Canadian businesses.

For more information

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

Access archived information on the Red Tape Reduction Commission.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: