Guide on Forward Planning and Related Measures to Improve the Transparency and Predictability of the Federal Regulatory System

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada,
represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2012.

Catalogue No.
ISBN

This document is also available in alternative formats on request.

Table of Contents

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is twofold:

  • It provides guidance to departments1 on how to meet the requirements of the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management (CDRM) to develop and post annual forward regulatory plans on departmental websites.
  • It also requires how departments are to develop their own Acts and Regulations Web pages. Such Web pages will be a department’s main vehicle for showcasing its forward regulatory plan and other measures to improve the transparency and predictability of the federal regulatory system. The other related transparency measures that are to be posted on departmental Acts and Regulations Web pages are as follows:
    • Service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations;
    • Departmental interpretation policies; and
    • Departmental actions responding to the Red Tape Reduction Commission’s recommendations.

2. Effective Date

This guidance takes effect immediately on distribution to departments.

3. Context

Canadians and businesses expect a transparent and predictable regulatory system. They want to know where they can find information on the government’s regulatory initiatives, and they reasonably expect that this information can be easily found on government websites.

Regulatory transparency and predictability enables Canadians and businesses to prepare, plan, and adjust their plans and activities before new rules are made. Regulatory transparency and predictability also allows Canadians and businesses to make informed decisions about their future and encourages investment and innovation.

“Canada has a mature and well-functioning system of regulatory governance. It was a pioneer in many areas of regulatory reform and has been a consistent and vigorous innovator across a wide range of topics. More than thirty years of review and more than twenty years of innovation and reform have made Canada one of the most experienced of OECD countries in attempts to improve government capacities to assure high quality regulation. The institutions, procedures, and other regulatory tools in Canada form an efficient, transparent and accountable whole. The principles and processes [of] regulatory quality management have permeated the policy-making process to an extent matched by few if any OECD countries and they are embedded in the administrative culture of policy-makers.”

OECD Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Regulatory Reform in Canada—Government Capacity to Assure
High Quality Regulation, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2002

Although Canada’s regulatory system has long been recognized internationally as a mature and well-functioning system, the government is committed to improving its transparency and predictability. As such, the government will introduce forward regulatory plans to provide Canadians and businesses with increased transparency and predictability regarding the government’s intention to regulate.

A forward regulatory plan is a publicly available list of planned or potential regulatory changes to be introduced by a department in a specified time frame. However, it should be noted that similar to any forward-looking plan, forward regulatory plans will reflect changing operating realities that individual regulatory departments must contend with.

The introduction of forward regulatory plans in Canada’s system will complement existing federal regulatory requirements. For example, departments are required to publish regulatory proposals in the publicly available Canada Gazette, so that stakeholders and interested citizens may provide comments on those proposals in order to inform the design of the final regulation. It should be noted that publishing proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette is not a substitute for meaningful consultations on the development of regulatory proposals.2 As such, departments engage in consultation sessions with stakeholders and the public outside of the Canada Gazette “to ensure that their regulatory activities result in the greatest overall benefit to current and future generations of Canadians.”3 Forward regulatory plans will provide an earlier signal of the government’s intent to regulate, including in the period prior to pre-publication of regulatory proposals in the Canada Gazette, in some cases.

In order to ensure that forward regulatory plans are easily accessible and available to Canadians and businesses and to ensure consistency across federal departments, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is also requiring the development of departmental Acts and Regulations Web pages. Such pages will be the main vehicle for departments to showcase their forward regulatory plans and related measures to improve the transparency and predictability of the federal regulatory system, such as posting service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations, interpretation policies and departmental actions to respond to the Red Tape Reduction Commission’s recommendations. Departmental Acts and Regulations Web pages will ensure that regulatory information is similarly presented on departmental websites. This will provide Canadians and businesses with a common user experience as they search for information on departmental websites.

4. Scope of Application

The CDRM applies to all federal departments and entities defined by section 3 of the Directive.

Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management: Section 3, “Scope of Application”

7. Federal departments, agencies, and entities: The Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management applies to all federal departments, agencies, and entities over which the Cabinet has either general authority or a specific authority relating to regulation making, or both such authorities:

  • i. Federal departments, agencies, and entities under the general authority of Cabinet include all of the public administration, including ministers, with the exception of certain federal entities that are created by statute and that have an existence, a mandate, and powers with substantial independence from the government.
  • ii. Entities not under the general authority of Cabinet must comply with the Directive if the Governor in Council or the Treasury Board has a specific authority related to regulation making.
  • iii. Entities not under the general authority of Cabinet and over which Cabinet does not have a specific authority should, as a matter of good regulatory practice, follow the Directive and apply its requirements as appropriate to their context.

5. Definitions

For the purpose of this guide, the following definitions apply:

Forward regulatory plan:
A component of the CDRM that requires departments to post a list and description of planned and potential regulatory initiatives they intend to introduce in the next two years.
Regulatory initiative:
A planned or potential regulatory change such as a new regulation, an amendment to an existing regulation, or the removal of an existing regulation.
Business:
An enterprise that operates in Canada and engages in commercial activities related to the supply of services or property (which includes goods). A business does not include an organization that engages in activities for a public purpose (i.e., social welfare or civic improvement), such as a provincial or municipal government, a school, a college or university, or a hospital or charity.

6. Principles

Key principles that will drive the development and implementation of forward regulatory plans are as follows:

Accessibility
Forward regulatory plans will be similarly displayed and will be hyperlinked from departmental Acts and Regulations Web pages so that they are easily accessible to Canadians and businesses.
Flexibility
Given the various policy, program and risk management responsibilities of ministers who have regulatory mandates, it is legitimate and necessary for ministers to have discretion over what potential regulatory changes are deemed appropriate for early public notification through a forward plan.
Adaptability:
Forward regulatory plans are intended to foreshadow a range of planned and potential departmental regulatory initiatives. It is expected and understood that forward regulatory plans will be updated and adjusted as a department’s operating environment changes over time. In essence, they are an estimation of anticipated regulatory changes.

7. Requirements for Developing a Forward Regulatory Plan

In accordance with section 7 of the CDRM, departments are expected to provide advance public notice of upcoming regulatory proposals. Each year, departments will:

  • Develop a 24-month forward regulatory plan;
  • Post their forward regulatory plan on their departmental Acts and Regulations Web page (refer to section 8 of this guide);
  • Provide a semi-annual update to their plan; and
  • Follow the requirements outlined in this guide, including the mandatory forward regulatory plan template provided in Appendix A.

7.1 Forward Regulatory Plan Template

Departments must develop their forward regulatory plans following the template provided in Appendix A. The format and content fields described in the template are mandatory. It is also mandatory for departments to select one of the two options provided in the template to best represent the impacts of the regulatory initiative on business. As described in the template, each entry in the forward plan will include the following:

  • The title or working title of the regulatory initiative: This should be brief and represent the overall intent of the regulatory initiative.
  • A concise description of the regulatory initiative: The description of the regulatory initiative should be easily understood, be written in plain language, and convey the objectives the regulatory initiative is aimed at solving.
  • Options to indicate whether the regulatory initiative could have impacts on business: The intent of this section is to provide business with an early indication of planned and potential regulatory changes that may warrant their attention and engagement during the regulatory development process. It is mandatory for departments to select one of the two options provided in the template to best represent these impacts.
  • An identification of public consultation opportunities: This section should describe how and when Canadians can expect to be consulted on the regulatory initiative.
  • A departmental point of contact: This section should provide the public with a departmental contact point. The individual identified should have knowledge of the regulatory initiative in order to respond to questions from the public on that regulatory initiative.

7.2 Governance and Approvals

Departments must establish internal governance and approval processes to ensure ministerial approval of forward regulatory plans for public release. Departments must also follow established government communications procedures for securing approval of their forward regulatory plans before they are posted on their websites.

Although regulatory initiatives to be included in a department’s forward regulatory plan are at the discretion of the sponsoring4 minister, some of those initiatives either relate to or may require consultations with other departments. For example, some regulatory initiatives may be the responsibility of two or more ministers. In such cases, departments must secure the approval of all sponsoring ministers before the information is posted publicly.

7.3 Annual Time Frame for Posting and Updating Forward Regulatory Plans

The time frame for posting forward regulatory plans on departmental websites is provided below. Forward plans will be posted twice a year: in the spring and in the fall (as an update). The specific dates for posting in the spring and fall will be set as April 1 and October 1, respectively.  For the first year of implementation (2013), the specific date for posting in the spring will be March 1.

  • Fall: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Call Letter

A call letter is sent from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat to all regulatory departments requesting the development of forward regulatory plans.

  • Spring: Forward Plans Posted (Publicly Released)

Departments post approved forward regulatory plans on their departmental websites. The Secretariat’s website will hyperlink to all departmental forward regulatory plans from the Government-Wide Forward Regulatory Plans Web page to provide single-window access to all departmental forward regulatory plans.

  • Summer: Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat Call Letter for a Mid-Year Update

A Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat call letter requests a mid-year update to forward regulatory plans.

  • Fall: Mid-Year Updates Posted

Departments have posted their mid-year update to their forward regulatory plan.

8. Requirements for Developing a Departmental Acts and Regulations Web Page

Canadians and businesses expect that regulatory information should be easy to find on government websites. Departments, correspondingly, should develop Acts and Regulations Web pages. These Web pages will be the vehicle for providing basic information on forward plans, legislation and regulations, as well as regulatory reforms. Web content and layout for the required Acts and Regulations Web page is provided in Appendix B. It is mandatory for departments to use the Web content and layout provided. However, departments may choose to supplement the Web content with additional information that is unique to their regulatory mandate and activities.

By March 1, 2013, each department (refer to Section 4 of this guide) must develop an Acts and Regulations Web page. Departments must include the following on this Web page:

  • Their list of existing Acts (this can be accomplished by providing hyperlinks to the Acts already available on the Justice Canada website);
  • Their list of existing regulations (this can be accomplished by providing hyperlinks to the regulations already available on the Justice Canada website);
  • Their forward regulatory plan;
  • Their service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations;
  • Their interpretation policy (not required until fall 2013);
  • Their actions in response to the Red Tape Reduction Commission’s Recommendations Report, which have already been publicly announced; and
  • Other regulatory information, such as initiatives of interest to their stakeholders (this is optional and at the discretion of departments).

Additional instructions for posting forward regulatory plans and service standards are described in sections 8.1 and 8.2, respectively.

8.1 Requirements for Posting Forward Regulatory Plans on Departmental Acts and Regulations Web Pages

To post a forward regulatory plan on departmental Acts and Regulations Web pages, departments must use the Web content and layout provided in Appendix C. This Web content and layout consists of i) a standard introductory description of the forward regulatory plan initiative; ii) the layout and presentation of the department’s 24-month plan; and iii) the layout and presentation of the individual regulatory initiatives identified in a department’s plan. This standard Web content and layout is provided to ensure that all departments communicate the purpose of the government’s forward regulatory plan initiative consistently and that the display of the information is similar.

Please note, however, that departments have the flexibility to decide how they categorize the regulatory initiatives listed in their forward regulatory plan (see Appendix C). For example, some departments may choose to categorize their regulatory initiatives by program area, whereas others may choose to categorize their regulatory initiatives according to the enabling legislation. Although there are many different approaches that could be considered, a department’s forward regulatory plan should be categorized in a manner that is intuitive from a citizen’s perspective. This approach provides ministers with flexibility to decide how their regulatory initiatives are presented.

8.2 Requirements for Posting Service Standards for High-Volume Regulatory Authorizations on Departmental Acts and Regulations Web Pages

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat has issued a Guide on Improving Service Performance for Regulatory Authorizations, which requires departments to place an early and particular focus on developing and posting timeliness service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations that impact business and currently do not have a publicly available service standard on their website. Departments must develop their new service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations according to this guide and follow the Web content and layout requirements set out in Appendix D and Appendix E.

Service Standards for High-Volume Regulatory Authorizations Web Page

When posting timeliness service standards for regulatory authorizations, departments are required to use the Web content and layout provided in Appendix E of this guide. This is to ensure that all departments communicate service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations consistently and that the display of the information is similar. The Web content should consist of i) a standard introductory description; and ii) the layout and presentation of service standards to ensure consistency across departments.

With respect to the layout and presentation of service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations, departments are required to post the following on a single Web page: (i) the service standard; (ii) the performance target; (iii) annual performance information; (iv) the information requirements and process that applicants must follow when applying for the authorization; and (v) a feedback mechanism stating how clients can lodge a complaint if service expectations have not been met. This information is outlined in template in Appendix D. The service standards must be accessible from the department’s Acts and Regulations Web page.

In accordance with timelines set by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, departments are also required to adapt their existing service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations to meet the layout and presentation requirements outlined above. This will result in a common approach across departments whereby stakeholders can readily find and access all service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations.

9. Roles and Responsibilities

9.1 Ministers

Ministers will ensure that their departments comply with the requirements of this guidance and with the CDRM. Ministers are responsible for the content of their forward regulatory plans. Regulatory initiatives identified within a department’s forward regulatory plan and the description provided is at the discretion of the sponsoring minister.

9.2 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Regulatory Affairs Sector will review departmental websites to ensure that departments have developed an Acts and Regulation Web page, published forward regulatory plans on their respective Web pages, completed semi-annual updates to their forward regulatory plans; and complied with the posting requirements outlined in this guide (refer to section 8) for all of the transparency and predictability measures as they are phased in. Links to all departmental forward regulatory plans will be situated on the Secretariat’s website to provide single-window access to all departmental forward regulatory plans.

The President of the Treasury Board will issue an Annual Scorecard Report on the government’s regulatory reforms. This will report progress on the government’s implementation of the reforms, including the development and posting of forward regulatory plans, and will be made available to the public through the Secretariat’s website.

9.3 Departments

Departments are accountable for complying with the requirements outlined in this document and with the CDRM. Moreover, departments are responsible for the information included in their respective plans, as well as any questions from stakeholders and the general public on their plans. The requirement to develop, implement and post forward regulatory plans respects departmental and ministerial accountability for regulatory mandates.

Where ministers share responsibility for a given regulatory initiative, departmental officials are required to consult with the other departments involved in order to provide a consistent recommendation to their ministers on that particular initiative and its proposed content.

Departments must report their Web addresses (i.e., the URL of their Acts’ forward regulatory plan Web page) to the Secretariat’s Regulatory Affairs Sector annually.

10. Enquiries

Please send any questions about these guidelines to Public Enquiries. For information on departmental forward regulatory plans, please contact the applicable department directly.

Appendix A. Forward Regulatory Plan Template

This mandatory template is provided for departments to use to obtain internal approval of forward regulatory plans. Each entry in the forward plan must be completed in this format, with as much information as possible to improve business predictability. For business impacts, departments must choose one of the two options provided.

Title or Working Title of the Regulatory Initiative

Description of the objective

Provide a concise description of the regulatory proposal.

Include information on the following:

  • Objective
  • Description of the Regulation
  • Enabling Act

Indication of business impacts

See below for exact wording that must be used depending upon the option chosen.*

Public consultation opportunities

Describe when and how will Canadians be consulted on the proposal.

For example, provide information or hyperlinks to consultation opportunities or documents. At a minimum, departments must include hyperlinks to the Consulting with Canadians website; the Canada Gazette, Part I; or a departmental consultation Web page if that information has already been posted.

Departmental contact

Contact details: Name, position, telephone number and email address. The contact should be able to deal with public inquiries personally.


* Option 1: For regulations that have business impacts, departments must write the following:

  • “There may be business impacts. The “One-for-One” Rule and/or the small business lens may apply.”

* Option 2: For regulations that have no business impacts, departments must write the following:

  • “There are no expected business impacts.”

Appendix B. Web Content and Layout for a Departmental Acts and Regulations Web Page

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Acts and Regulations

[existing/new department-specific introductory content appears here]

What are we doing?

As a department, [insert name of department] is responsible for the following:

  • List of Acts [insert departmental link]
  • List of Regulations [insert departmental link]
  • Forward Regulatory Plan [insert departmental link]
  • Service Standards for High-Volume Regulatory Authorizations [insert departmental link]
  • Interpretation Policy [insert departmental link]
  • Departmental Actions to respond to the Red Tape Reduction Commission’s Recommendations Report [insert departmental link]
  • Other departmental regulatory information (optional) [insert departmental link]

All of the government’s Acts and Regulations can be found on the Justice Canada website.

For more information

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

Appendix C. Web Content and Layout for the Forward Regulatory Plan

This is the mandatory Web layout for departments to introduce their forward regulatory plan. The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will provide dates as to when departmental forward regulatory plans are to be posted on Web pages.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Forward Regulatory Plan

A forward regulatory plan is a public list or description of anticipated regulatory changes or actions that a department intends to bring forward or undertake in a specified time frame. It is intended to give consumers, business, other stakeholders and trading partners greater opportunity to inform the development of regulations and to plan for the future. It should be noted that this forward regulatory plan will be adjusted and updated over time as [insert department name]’s operating environment also changes over time.

This plan provides information on planned and potential regulatory initiatives that [insert department name] expects to bring forward over the next two years. It also identifies public consultation opportunities and a departmental contact point for each regulatory initiative.

  • Forward Regulatory Plan: 2012–14 [insert departmental link]

For more information

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

This Web page should list the proposed regulatory initiatives in the departmental forward regulatory plan that fall under a specific category, as determined by the department (e.g., a program, sector, regulation, etc.). It covers a two-year implementation period.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Forward Regulatory Plan: 2012–14

This plan provides information on regulatory proposals that [insert department name] expects to bring forward over the next two years. It also identifies public consultation opportunities and a departmental contact point for each regulatory initiative.

Proposed Regulatory Initiatives

  • [Title or Working Title of the Regulatory Initiative X] [insert departmental link]
  • [Title or Working Title of the Regulatory Initiative Y] [insert departmental link]

For more information

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

This is the mandatory Web layout for each entry to a department’s forward regulatory plan. This layout is also provided in Appendix A, in a table-format template, for departments to use to obtain internal approvals.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Regulatory Initiative: [insert title of initiative] – Forward Regulatory Plan [insert start year–end year]

Title or working title of the regulatory initiative:

Description of the objective:

Indication of business impacts:

Public consultation opportunities

Departmental contact:

For more information

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

Appendix D. Service Standard for High-Volume Regulatory Authorization Template

This mandatory template is provided for departments to use for each service standard for high-volume regulatory authorizations. Each service standard for a high-volume regulatory authorization must be completed in this format.

Title of High-Volume Regulatory Authorization

Service standard

  • State the timeliness service standard in a concise sentence.
  • It must articulate how long the client should expect to wait to receive a decision from the government on an application for a regulatory authorization.

Performance target

  • State the frequency with which the organization expects to meet its service standards under normal circumstances.
  • It should be expressed in a simple sentence, e.g., “The target for achieving this standard is set at 90 per cent.”

Performance information

  • Post the annual service performance against the new service standards. It should be expressed as a percentage.
  • Performance can be posted in tabular format or in one or two sentences.
  • If performance information exists elsewhere on the departmental Web site, a hyperlink can be provided.
  • Departments cannot link exclusively to their Departmental Performance Report.

Applying for [insert name of authorization]

  • State the information requirements and process that applicants must follow when applying for the authorization.
  • Identify a departmental contact that can answer questions from the public.

Service feedback

  • Identify how to lodge a complaint if service expectations have not been met.
  • If any of this information is already publicly available, a hyperlink can be provided.

Appendix E. Web Content and Layout for Service Standards for High-Volume Regulatory Authorizations

This is the mandatory Web layout for departments to introduce all of their service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations. This Web page will be accessible from the main Acts and Regulations Web page.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Service Standards for High-Volume Regulatory Authorizations

Service standards publicly state the level of performance that citizens can reasonably expect to encounter from [insert name of department] under normal circumstances.

[existing/new department-specific content – optional]

Timeliness service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations clarify expectations and increase predictability in the federal regulatory system. They benefit the many Canadians, particularly businesses, who must seek permission from the federal government to either conduct a regulated activity or be exempt from it.

The following is a list of categories of our service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations:

  • Service Standards for [insert category A] [insert departmental link]
  • Service Standards for [insert category B] [insert departmental link]

[link to the main departmental service standards web page - optional]

For more information

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

This Web page should list the service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations that fall under a specific category, as determined by the department (e.g., a program, sector, regulation). New service standards should be at the top of the list.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

Service Standards for [category A]

Service standards publicly state the level of performance that citizens can reasonably expect to encounter from [insert name of department] under normal circumstances.

[existing/new department-specific content related to this category – optional]

The following is a list of our service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations in [insert category A]:

  • [insert title of high-volume regulatory authorization XX] [insert effective date] [insert departmental link]
  • [insert title of high-volume regulatory authorization YY] [insert effective date] [insert departmental link]
  • [insert title of high-volume regulatory authorization ZZ] [insert effective date] [insert departmental link]

For more information

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

This is the mandatory Web page for presenting service standards for high-volume regulatory authorizations, including those that charge user fees or regulatory charges. This layout is also provided in Appendix D, in a table-format template, for departments to use to obtain internal approvals.

[Area for the Departmental Banner]
[Area for the Breadcrumbs]
[Area for the Departmental Navigation]

[Insert title of high-volume regulatory authorization]

Service standard: [insert service standard]

Performance target: [insert performance target]

Performance results: [insert annual performance results]

Applying for [insert title of high-volume regulatory authorization]

[insert information requirements]

[insert departmental contact]

Service feedback: [insert how to lodge a complaint]

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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