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.
The Agriculture and Agri-Food Portfolio is responsible for regulatory instruments under 16 different Acts. With the exception of the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, 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.
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 Canadian Wheat Board (Interim Operations) Act and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada Act
Email AAFC's Regulatory Policy Coordination Office at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions regarding regulations under the Canadian Wheat Board (Interim Operations) Act and the Department of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada Act. A response will be sent indicating whether your request is considered routine or complex and when to expect a response.
Regulations Under the Farm Debt Mediation Act
Pari-Mutuel Betting Supervision Regulations
Email the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency at email@example.com 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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:
- We take the time to understand the needs of our clients and colleagues.
- We provide assistance and reduce unnecessary burden placed on our clients.
- We are accountable to our clients, ourselves, and our colleagues.
- We demonstrate respect to both our clients and colleagues.
- We provide timely and courteous services to clients and colleagues alike.
- We provide information that is accurate, accessible and up-to-date.
AAFC's PIRS tracks all client inquiries and complaints received through phone and email.
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.
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.
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 will be made according to the following timelines:
AAFC will endeavour to engage with stakeholders to identify areas for improvement regarding regulatory interpretation practices. Priority areas for improvement identified by stakeholders and associated metrics, will be posted on the Interpretation Policy webpage by March 31, 2015.
Update - In January and February 2015, the AAF 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.
While no feedback has been received, AAFC remains committed to improving our service to Canadians. Please email the AAFC Regulatory Policy Coordination Office with your feedback regarding AAFC's regulatory interpretation practices at email@example.com.
AAFC will implement mechanisms to make improvements on priority areas (if any have been identified) and monitor performance.
AAFC will update Canadians on performance in implementing any improvements by March 31, 2017.
Send us Your Feedback
Please email the AAFC Regulatory Policy Coordination Office with your feedback regarding AAFC's regulatory interpretation practices at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information
- Guide for Developing and Implementing Interpretation Policies
- Government-Wide Forward Regulatory Plans
- The Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management
- The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council
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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