Interpretation Policy

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.

Departmental Context

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Portfolio is responsible for regulatory instruments under 16 different Acts. With the exception of the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA), Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is not an inspection-based department as its regulatory instruments serve mostly to provide the framework for agricultural marketing boards and commissions, and enable programming. For example, the regulations under the Farm Debt Mediation Act outline the processes and provisions for the delivery of financial counselling and mediation services to farmers who are experiencing difficulties in meeting their financial obligations.

Predictability

AAFC commits to respond to regulatory questions in a timely manner, and to provide client-focused, helpful, and consistent responses to regulatory interpretation questions. Responses will be communicated in the form in which they are received (that is, written questions will be responded to in writing).

Plain Language Commitment

Responses to regulatory questions will be communicated in the official language in which the question was posed. AAFC will ensure that all information about regulations as well as responses to regulatory questions are clear, relevant, objective, easy to understand and useful.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

AAFC reaches out to Canadians, farmers and businesses in a variety of ways. For example, AAFC's website includes resource/reference materials and responses to frequently asked questions regarding the regulations we administer. Since AAFC's regulations serve mainly to enable programming, AAFC builds awareness by communicating with target audiences about available programs and services. This includes, but is not limited to, communicating through news releases, web content, information bulletins, advertising, social media, exhibits, events and regional outreach.

Responding to Questions

AAFC commits to respond to regulatory questions in accordance with the service standards listed below:

Regulations Under the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act

Visit the Advance Payments Program for questions regarding regulations under the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act. Responses will be provided based on the Advance Payments Program Service Standards.

Regulations Under the Animal Pedigree Act

Visit Animal Genetics for questions regarding regulations under the Animal Pedigree Act. A response will be sent indicating whether your request is considered routine or complex and when to expect a response.

Regulations Under the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act

Visit the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program for questions regarding regulations under the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act. Responses will be provided based on the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program Service Standards.

Regulations Under the Farm Debt Mediation Act

Visit the Farm Debt Mediation Service for questions regarding regulations under the Farm Debt Mediation Act. Responses will be provided based on the Farm Debt Mediation Service Service Standards.

Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations

Email the CPMA at cpmawebacpm@agr.gc.ca for questions regarding the Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations. A response will be sent indicating whether your request is considered routine or complex and when to expect a response.

General client inquiries are received by AAFC's Public Information Request Services (PIRS) through email (info@agr.gc.ca) and phone (1-855-773-0241). Regulatory questions received through the PIRS are forwarded to the appropriate regulatory analyst for response.

Note that verbal and email responses to questions about regulations are not considered legally binding. Written interpretive responses are binding on the Department if all the material facts have been submitted, are accurate, and remain substantially unchanged. Furthermore, the interpretation applies only to the party requesting the interpretation. A written interpretive response to a question about a regulation can take 30 days or longer to receive depending on the complexity of the question. Requests for a written interpretive response must be submitted to the Department in writing.

Service

Service Commitment

As outlined in AAFC's Service Pledge, we take pride in what we do. We are an organization dedicated to serving the public. We are here to provide support to both our clients and colleagues. We are committed to delivering high quality service when responding to questions related to regulatory interpretation because we understand the importance of agriculture to our economy, communities, environment and human health. At AAFC, we are:

Client-Focused
We take the time to understand the needs of our clients and colleagues.
Helpful
We provide assistance and reduce unnecessary burden placed on our clients.
Accountable
We are accountable to our clients, ourselves, and our colleagues.
Respectful
We demonstrate respect to both our clients and colleagues.
Timely
We provide timely and courteous services to clients and colleagues alike.
Accurate
We provide information that is accurate, accessible and up-to-date.

Service Accountability

AAFC's PIRS tracks all client inquiries and complaints received through phone and email.

Staff Training

AAFC provides ongoing support to its employees by providing them with the necessary training to deliver high quality, professional services and to provide information on regulatory requirements.

Stakeholder Engagement

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

AAFC is committed to engaging stakeholders, as appropriate, when developing, reviewing or refining practices and materials for providing information and guidance on regulatory compliance and answering questions.

Stakeholder Engagement Mechanisms

AAFC will continue to seek stakeholder feedback on regulatory issues, including the Regulatory Interpretation Policy through its existing stakeholder communication mechanisms (for example the Regulatory Sub-Committee of the Value Chain Round Tables) as well as via this webpage.

Improvement

At AAFC, we are dedicated to making a continual effort to improve our service to Canadians. Improvements to address the priority areas raised by stakeholders via this webpage and other channels along with associated metrics will be posted on this webpage.

In January and February 2015, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Portfolio reached out to over 80 stakeholders to seek feedback on current regulatory interpretation practices and areas for improvement. Feedback was also sought via this web site.

AAFC continues to welcome input from stakeholders on areas for improvement regarding regulatory interpretation practices. Performance and potential improvements are assessed regularly as requests are received.

While no feedback has been received, AAFC remains committed to improving our service to Canadians.

Send us Your Feedback

Please email the AAFC Regulatory Policy Coordination Office with your feedback regarding AAFC's regulatory interpretation practices at aafc.regulation-reglementation.aac@canada.ca. If you have feedback concerning the CPMA's regulatory interpretation practices, please email your comments to cpmawebacpm@agr.gc.ca.

For more information

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

Note: The above is not a legal document and is not intended to provide legal advice, it sets out the Department's general approach to interpreting regulations and is not a binding statement of the approach that the Department would follow in any particular case. The specific facts of a case, as well as the nature of the information and data available, determine how the Department would respond in a particular matter.

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