Natural Resources Canada’s Interpretation Policy

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

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) seeks to enhance the responsible development and use of Canada’s natural resources. The Minister of Natural Resources is accountable to Parliament for the activities of NRCan.

NRCan commits to providing information to help stakeholders understand their regulatory requirements. This policy outlines NRCan’s commitments in the areas of Predictability, Service, Stakeholder Engagement and Improvement.

PREDICTABILITY

Plain Language Commitment
NRCan commits to providing guidance and information in plain languageFootnote 1 to the fullest extent possible.

NRCan has developed Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for its most accessed regulations that have significant business impacts, and commits to the publication of FAQs for all new or amended regulations that have business impacts. FAQs on NRCan’s most accessed regulations can be found here:  Frequently Asked Questions: Regulations.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness
NRCan communicates regularly with its stakeholders through a variety of means in order to facilitate the development of guidance documentation, and more broadly to ensure awareness of regulatory compliance requirements. NRCan has made public consultation an integral part of the department’s policy and program development, reflecting Canadians’ priorities and interests. Public consultations on departmental activities can be accessed on NRCan’s Public Consultations webpage. Information related to NRCan’s Forward Regulatory Plan, which includes information on future public consultation activities, is also available on NRCan’s Acts and Regulations webpage.

Responding to Questions
NRCan commits to providing timely, accurate, clear, objective and complete information and guidance in response to stakeholder inquiries regarding regulations, in the official language of their choiceFootnote 1. Departmental staff do not provide legal advice about how specific regulations may apply to particular circumstances. 

NRCan staff do not routinely provide information on regulations that do not have business impacts. In instances where the regulatory authority is not NRCan or where another federal department or agency is better positioned to respond to a stakeholder inquiry, departmental staff will refer the inquiry to the appropriate entity.

NRCan will endeavour to acknowledge receipt of all inquiries regarding regulations within two business days. In general, responses are offered in the form that inquiries are made, whether verbally or in writing. Common/frequent inquiries may be responded to through FAQs. Responses to stakeholder inquiries are not intended to be legally binding on NRCan.

SERVICE Footnote 2, Footnote 3

Service Commitment
NRCan commits to excellence in service when dealing with all stakeholders, by providing professional, courteous and respectful service.

Service Accountability
If stakeholders are not satisfied with the guidance they have received from NRCan staff respecting regulatory requirements, they should begin by contacting the staff member to see if it is possible for them to clarify or amplify the guidance.  If unresolved, stakeholders may contact the staff member’s supervisor. 

NRCan will also address feedback or concerns raised by stakeholders related to their understanding of regulatory requirements through existing feedback processes, which include a contact line for general inquiries, a FAQs page, and information on NRCan’s public consultations.

Staff Training
NRCan commits to ensuring that staff responding to inquiries have the necessary skills and technical knowledge to provide quality service and accurate information on regulatory requirements. In instances where another federal department or agency is better positioned to respond to a stakeholder inquiry, NRCan staff will refer the inquiry to the appropriate entity.

STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement
NRCan commits to engaging stakeholders, as appropriate, when developing, reviewing and/or refining practices and materials for providing information and guidance on regulatory compliance and answering questions.

Stakeholder Engagement Practices
NRCan communicates regularly with its stakeholders through a variety of means in the regulatory development process. For example, consultation opportunities may be found on the Consulting with Canadians website. NRCan also leverages public involvement through its Public Consultations Activities that advise the department in various ways.

IMPROVEMENT

NRCan welcomes feedback from stakeholders on the delivery of interpretation services and will solicit feedback in 2014-15 through stakeholder consultation. Based on assessment and stakeholder input, the department will identify and post areas for improvement on its website by March 31, 2015.

NRCan will implement these improvements over two years and then update Canadians on the department’s performance in implementing these improvements on its website by March 31, 2017.

Related Reports

REFERENCES

FOR MORE INFORMATION

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