Temporary website updates are in progress to fix technical issues. For assistance, visit our Contact Us page.

Agri-food and aquaculture sector: Targeted regulatory review

Last update: November 2023

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Health Canada (HC), and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have made a number of advancements in implementing the Agri-food and Aquaculture Roadmap.

Key thematic outcomes are summarized below, followed by updates on specific initiatives. The earlier February 2021 progress update is available.

On this page

Key outcomes

Clear, agile, responsive regulations

Notable progress has been made on several key actions, where departments and agencies are addressing stakeholder concerns with regulatory requirements that are outdated, unclear, or not sufficiently risk-based. Since the publication of the Roadmap, the CFIA, Health Canada, and DFO have updated regulations pertaining to:

  • Fertilizers (Fertilizers Regulations)
  • Vodka standards (Food and Drug Regulations)
  • Food product innovation (Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and the Food and Drug Regulations)
  • Hatcheries (Health of Animals Regulations (Hatchery))
  • Supplemented foods (Food and Drug Regulations and Cannabis Regulations)
  • Pesticide incident reporting (Pest Control Products Incident Reporting Regulations)
  • Federal fisheries regulations applicable to aquaculture (Atlantic Fishery Regulations and Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations)

A number of regulatory initiatives were recently finalized and published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. For instance, in July 2022, the CFIA published updated regulations in support of the Food Product Innovation initiative. These regulatory amendments include provisions that facilitate industry innovation and remove prescriptive and duplicative requirements. The regulatory changes provide more flexibility for industry, while maintaining consumer protection, as well as aligning Canada's approach with those of our international partners, such as the United States and the European Union.

In November 2022, the CFIA also published its modernized hatchery regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II. The regulatory amendments are more outcome-based and consolidate all the regulatory requirements into one regulation to provide clarity for industry. These changes allow the regulatory framework to keep pace with advances in science and technology; improve risk management along the food supply chain; and, align Canadian standards with major international trading partners.

In addition, Health Canada published final regulations for human milk fortifiers and for supplemented foods, both of which are part of the broader food regulatory innovation initiative. Through these actions, Health Canada created new regulatory regimes providing clear and predictable rules for regulated parties and supporting innovation.

On July 31, 2021, Health Canada published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part I, outlining proposed regulatory changes as part of the Agile Regulations initiative, which is also part of the Health and Biosciences Roadmap. These proposed changes would enable the use of terms and conditions, and support the creation of an additional, optional rolling review approval pathway for certain human and veterinary drug submissions such as those that address significant new and emerging infectious diseases. The proposed regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in December 2022.

Competitiveness in domestic and international markets

Departments and agencies continue to advance initiatives to support Canadian competitiveness and trade interests within the country and abroad. To promote Canadian trade interests, support consistent development of science-based standards, and improve harmonization with other trading partners, the 2018 Fall Economic Statement provided ongoing funding to enhance Canadian participation in three international standard setting bodies relevant to Canadian agriculture. Through this funding, AAFC, CFIA, and Health Canada have been able to advance work in areas including mitigating the spread of African swine fever (ASF), contributing to trade guidance for international plant protections via e-commerce, supporting assessments by the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, and harmonizing the methodology to establish international pesticide regulations on agriculture products.

Risk-based, efficient, and predictable regulatory programs

Departments and agencies are seeking to streamline, better coordinate and/or align requirements to offer more flexible and transparent regulatory environments and support innovation. For instance, CFIA and Health Canada published a joint policy statement in August 2021 on coordinated changes to food label requirements. This initiative will help to improve regulatory compliance by providing greater predictability in labeling changes and will reduce the burden and costs associated with multiple labelling changes being imposed on regulated parties, while maintaining the Government's ability to address health and safety risks.

Novel regulatory approaches

Finally, departments and agencies are advancing novel regulatory approaches and testing where innovative approaches can complement regulatory frameworks. For instance, in 2020, AAFC established the Agile Regulations Table (ART), an industry-government forum designed to explore opportunities to collaborate on regulatory issues facing the agriculture and agri-food sector. Since being established, the ART has met fourteen times, including in December 2022 for its annual in-person planning meeting, and virtually in April 2023. As part of the December planning, the ART reflected on its progress and accomplishments, including the creation of a journey mapping toolkit and ongoing regulatory experimentation efforts; considered how broader issues such as climate change and macroeconomic pressures affect the regulatory environment; and, discussed the Table's approach to continuing to advance regulatory modernization over the next year.

Considerations

Several initiatives, such as the modernization of the regulatory framework for veterinary drugs, experienced delays in 2020 due to the reprioritization of work and resources associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, some initiatives were impacted by evolving federal-provincial-territorial and international priorities. Work on these components is expected to resume once further consultations are complete.

Further, one initiative from the Roadmap is on hold and may no longer be pursued, pending stakeholder perspectives; as was noted in the February 2021 progress update, AAFC presented an economic analysis on a new value creation model for crops such as barley in March 2020, and at the same time announced that consultations were put on hold due to lack of alignment among stakeholders.

Despite these challenges, the departments and agencies implicated in the Roadmap remain committed to advancing objectives to improve growth, competition, and innovation in the agri-food and aquaculture sectors.

Initiative updates

Feeds regulatory modernization

  • The CFIA is modernizing the Feeds Regulations to reduce administrative burden, streamline requirements, and improve alignment with trading partners
  • Proposed feed regulatory amendments were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on June 12, 2021
  • A What We Heard report on the consultation for the proposed Feeds Regulations was published on the CFIA's website on December 6, 2022
  • Final regulations are expected to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part II in Fall 2023
  • Industry guidance documents will be published on the CFIA's website to support the transition to the new regulations

Regulatory framework for fertilizers and plant supplements in Canada

This initiative is complete; see February 2021 progress update for further information

Seeds regulatory modernization

  • The CFIA is undertaking a comprehensive review of its seeds regulatory framework and Seeds Regulations to improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the Seeds program, and to facilitate innovation for the seed sectors
  • Following public consultations in Winter 2021, a What We Heard report on the needs assessment survey for seed regulatory modernization was published
  • The CFIA launched an online consultation, from February 15, 2023 to May 1, 2023, to seek additional stakeholder feedback
  • The CFIA is targeting pre-publication of the updated Seeds Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I in Fall 2024

Hatchery regulatory modernization

  • This initiative is now complete
  • The CFIA published the final hatchery regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II on November 9, 2022
  • The new regulatory amendments are more outcome based and consolidate all regulatory requirements into a single set of regulations
    • This provides clarity to industry and allow industry to keep pace with advances in science and technology
    • It also improves risk management and supports alignment with major international trading partners

Modernizing food regulations to support flexibility and innovation (Vodka Standards)

Modernizing food regulations to support flexibility and innovation (Food Product Innovation)

  • In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CFIA reduced the scope of the Food Labelling Modernization initiative and renamed it as "Food Product Innovation"
  • This initiative is complete
  • The final amendments in support of food product innovation were made to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and Food and Drug Regulations and were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on July 6, 2022
    • These amendments provide industry with greater flexibility in meeting regulatory outcomes and improve alignment with Canada's major trading partners

Modernizing food regulations to support flexibility and innovation (Food Compositional Standards)

  • When the Roadmap was first published in 2019, this initiative was being addressed as part of the CFIA's Food Labelling Modernization regulatory package.
    • Given the need to coordinate with Health Canada, this work has been combined with Health Canada's work as outlined in their "Amending Food Regulations" initiative
  • The CFIA and Health Canada held initial outreach and engagement with stakeholders on proposed amendments in October 2022. Proposed regulatory amendments on the modernization of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I in November 2023
    • The aim is to facilitate economic development by enabling food compositional standards, microbiological criteria and methods of analysis to evolve more efficiently in response to changes in consumer demand, new science and new innovations in the food sector
    • Additionally, this initiative would also eliminate outdated and redundant references to food additives while consolidating and simplifying remaining rules under a new regulatory framework
    • Overall, these proposed changes also support alignment with international standard setting bodies and major trading partners

Amending food regulations

Regulatory framework for veterinary drugs

Pesticide incident reporting

Label modernization of pest control products

  • Pre-publication of the proposed regulatory amendment to the Pest Control Products Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, has been delayed until Winter 2024 due to resource challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other competing priorities

Modernize authorization process for certain pest controls products (registration is not required)

  • With respect to the proposed statutory amendments set out in the Roadmap, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) invited stakeholders to provide input to help inform the development of potential targeted legislative changes to the Pest Control Products Act, including the proposal to create a new authorization pathway, via a consultation that closed on June 30, 2022
  • A What We Heard report summarizing the results of the consultation was published online on November 1, 2022
  • A Notice of Intent was published online on June 20, 2023 summarizing key concerns raised during the consultation, proposing regulatory amendments to address these concerns and soliciting stakeholder views
  • PMRA determined that policy and regulatory initiatives are sufficient to achieve the improved protection of human health and the environment from risks posed by pesticides and strengthen transparency
  • At this time, the proposal to create a new authorization pathway via legislative changes is not being pursued
  • With respect to the proposed regulatory amendments set out in the Roadmap, pre-publication of the proposed amendment to the Pest Control Products Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, has been delayed until Fall 2024 due to resource challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other competing priorities

Modernize the post-market review process for pest control products

  • The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) expanded the focus of its modernization activities to include pre- and post-market processes and apply regulatory oversight across the product's lifecycle
  • In April 2021, the PMRA published a What We Heard report on continuous oversight, the key framework of this modernization project
  • In June 2022, the PMRA consulted with key stakeholders on the design and plans to work towards implementation of continuous oversight
  • Implementation of all project elements is targeted to be launched in 2024 to 2025, including a proportional approach to enable better targeting of regulatory effort and a streamlined pathway for pesticides of lower concern
  • In June 2023, PMRA published the Re-evaluation and special review work plan 2023 to 2028 to inform registrants, pesticide regulatory officials and the Canadian public of the re-evaluation and special review work planned from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2028

Canadian grain regulatory framework modernization

Modernizing federal aquaculture regulations - General aquaculture regulations

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) amended the Atlantic Fishery Regulations and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations which came into force upon registration, May 14, 2021
  • DFO is targeting pre-publication of the Aquaculture Activities Regulations amendments in the Canada Gazette, Part I following targeted Indigenous engagement and consultations
    • Indigenous engagement and consultations are expected to begin in Fall 2024
  • The proposed General Aquaculture Regulations are anticipated to be created under the new Aquaculture Act

Create clear, agile, responsive regulatory structure for pathogens and toxins; streamlined and coordinated regulatory oversight

Competitiveness and innovation

  • The CFIA consulted a wide range of stakeholders including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses operated by underrepresented groups on Framing competitiveness and innovation for success from January 18, 2021 to March 19, 2021
  • Feedback was received from over 800 stakeholders
  • The CFIA highlighted five key themes where improvements could be made to support greater alignment and coordination across regulators and enhance program and service delivery
    • Many of these themes have crosswalks with other Roadmap initiatives
  • The What We Heard report on Framing competitiveness and innovation for success, which includes further details about the results was published on March 8, 2022
    • This will inform internal efforts to further enable competitiveness and innovation in the sector
  • This initiative is complete

Increased Canadian participation/Influence in international standards

  • Canada continues to actively engage and provide funding to international standards setting bodies that are relevant to the Canadian agriculture sector
  • Through this funding, Canada was able to advance work in areas including: mitigating the spread of African swine fever; contributing to the development of trade guidance on e-commerce; and harmonizing the methodology to establish international pesticide regulations on agriculture products
  • For example, in 2022, Health Canada supported the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives on the re-evaluation of titanium dioxide and aspartame
  • Agriculture and Agri-food Canada is leading an interdepartmental working group which has developed a number of international standards setting body-specific projects for 2022 to 2023, including to support work on a global avian influenza strategy at the World Organization for Animal Health, as well as climate change and phyto-sanitary activities with the International Plant Protection Convention
  • The CFIA contributed to the development of international guidelines for mitigating the spread of ASF
  • This initiative is evergreen, as Canadian participation in international standards setting bodies is expected to be ongoing

Veterinary drugs and minor uses and minor species

Use of foreign reviews and joint risk assessments for innovative food products

Food safety oversight: Domestic trade

  • The development of the Domestic Comparability Assessment Tool (DCAT) is complete
  • Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba have completed their voluntary self-assessments using the DCAT
    • Provinces and territories can self-assess their food safety systems against federal standards at any time using the tool
  • Separately, in collaboration with the provinces and territories and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the CFIA is working to address challenges associated with interprovincial trade
  • This is a priority that was identified by federal, provincial, and territorial Ministers of Agriculture at their July 2022 annual conference

Internal trade issues: Food grades, food packaging, food labelling, organic products

  • The food grades and organic standards were deemed complete when the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations came into force on January 15, 2019
  • Food packaging and labelling changes were part of regulatory amendments made in support of the Food Product Innovation initiative, which were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II in July 2022
  • This initiative is complete

Reviewing the policy for "Product of Canada" labelling

  • In 2019 to 2020, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada conducted targeted engagement activities with industry stakeholders, and the CFIA led a broader consultation with Canadians
  • These consultations led to recommendations to revise the criteria for the "Product of Canada" voluntary claim
  • A final decision on the proposal has been delayed

Enhancing the competitiveness of the cereals sector

  • In the absence of a Government implemented enabling regulation, the seed industry is moving ahead with its own, contract-based value creation mechanisms to strengthen the competitiveness of the cereals sector in Canada on a limited basis
  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada remains open to discussions with crop sector stakeholders on ways to further strengthen intellectual property protections for seed beyond the 2015 amendments to Canada's Plant Breeders' Rights Act

Pre-market assessment for agricultural inputs

  • To improve harmonization with other jurisdictions, the CFIA launched a consultation on the use of foreign decisions for livestock feed approvals in Canada in Spring 2023
  • A What We Heard report summarizing the feedback received along with revised final guidance document is expected to be published in Fall 2023
  • To facilitate the pre-market assessment process, new application services were integrated in the CFIA's client facing online digital platform, MyCFIA
    • For instance, new applications for pre-market permission were integrated in MyCFIA for fertilizer products in 2020, plants with novel traits in November 2021, livestock feed in July 2022, and crops variety subject to registration in September 2022

Approach to novel products of biotechnology (plant breeding innovation)

Digital CFIA Services

  • The CFIA has been digitalizing many of its services since its client-facing platform, MyCFIA, was launched in 2019
  • Since then, various CFIA services have been integrated into MyCFIA
    • This includes: food licences, plant and animal import permits, pre-market approvals, and export certificates
  • To date, almost 27,000 companies use MyCFIA to interact with the CFIA
    • Additionally, over 144,000 service requests, such as applications for import permits and certificates, were received through the platform
  • This initiative is evergreen
    • It is expected that most of the CFIA's services will be available through MyCFIA by 2025

Recognition of third party oversight

  • In 2019, CFIA developed a draft assessment tool and worked with the food industry to identify and pilot one widely-used voluntary third party assurance program against regulatory requirements
  • Updates to the assessment tool were completed in September 2021 and determination of next steps is underway

Consistent inspection

  • The CFIA has developed a common inspection architecture and continues to update its Standard Inspection Process (SIP) guidance documents
    • For instance, work is progressing to develop SIP guidance documents for programs with regulations that were recently modernized such as fertilizer and hatchery
    • Work is also underway to develop guidance that will support modernized Feeds Regulations once the final regulations are published
  • The CFIA will continue to align guidance with the SIP and onboard programs onto its Digital Service Delivery Platform, using a phased approach within the meat, plant, and animal health business lines
  • Training materials are being updated as operational guidance is being incrementally developed and implemented

Potential duplication of oversight

  • In an effort to reduce regulatory burden on businesses, the CFIA is reviewing its work to determine whether there is a duplication of oversight activities with provincial counterparts
    • This includes inspection information sharing, emergency management, and regulatory and scientific collaboration
  • As of June 2023, seven provinces and one territory (British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Prince Edward Island) have signed agreements with the CFIA, and signed MOUs with Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador are expected by 2023 to 2024
  • Additionally, the CFIA and Quebec intend to have a renewed framework agreement signed in 2023 to 2024

Food Labelling Coordination Strategy

  • Consultations were held from February 2 to April 3, 2021
  • In August 2021, Health Canada and CFIA published a joint Food Labelling Coordination policy to enhance coordination of changes to food requirements and to provide industry with a predictable cycle for compliance dates
  • This initiative is complete and is being actively implemented.

Data compensation modernization for pest control products

Agile Regulations Table – Sector specific government/stakeholder collaboration on regulations

  • The Agile Regulations Table (ART) co-developed and endorsed a multi-year strategic plan to guide long term actions for ART members in November 2021
  • Key areas of focus identified include:
    • Exploring ways to make the regulatory system easier to navigate
    • Providing analytical capacity to better understand cumulative administrative burden and economic impacts of regulations across the sector; and
    • Contributing to regulatory experimentation and foresight
  • The Table completed work on COVID-19 lessons learned and disseminated findings with relevant regulators and the ART in Spring 2022
  • Work on regulatory experimentation continues, with projects underway in the plant protein and drone-based pesticide application areas to help fill regulatory data gaps and enable innovation
  • The ART has also applied a Journey Mapping Toolkit which it developed in 2022 to gain a better understanding of needs, opportunities and challenges businesses face when considering expanding into interprovincial markets
  • Although this initiative was reported complete in the February 2021 progress update, as the ART had been launched, the Table continues to advance its medium and long-term mandate through its strategic plan as an ongoing initiative towards Government of Canada regulatory modernization

Reducing risk and improving trust using distributed ledger technology (Blockchain)

Rethinking the regulatory relationship: Applying innovation and behavioural science to promote compliance and improve risk management (novel regulatory approach)

  • The CFIA concluded a pilot in 2018 to 2019 to explore risk relationship with an industry 'champion'
    • The results of the pilot further informed how the CFIA manages risk
  • The CFIA continues to prioritize risk management practices in its operations to uphold food safety and the health of plants and animals and Canadians
  • This initiative is complete

Archived updates

February 2021

Published: February 2021

Since June 2019, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Health Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have made great strides in advancing work on the Agri-food and Aquaculture Roadmap's initiatives. These updates on the roadmap initiatives provide a brief overview of some of the highlights on implementation progress.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these departments and agencies have had to redirect resources to focus on emergency responses and new emerging priorities. This has caused some initiatives to experience delays in meeting original target dates. Nevertheless, the next steps on these particular initiatives are continuously revised in light of these current circumstances in order to continue delivering on roadmap commitments and avoid any unnecessary delays.

Revised timelines for all regulatory initiatives can be found in "Forward regulatory plans".

Clear, agile, responsive regulations

  • CFIA updated the Fertilizers Regulations to provide flexibility to the fertilizers industry through a risk-based approach, support innovation, and create a more level playing field for importers and domestic manufacturers
  • Health Canada has completed amendments to the Pest Control Products Incident Reporting Regulations to further clarify the pesticide incident reporting requirements and enhance the department's ability to identify trends and analyze incident reports, while reducing regulatory and administrative burden
    • These amendments will come into force January 1, 2022
    • Additional time is needed to allow for necessary changes to reporting forms and internal databases
    • Also, updated guidance documents for companion animals were published on Health Canada's web page on December 6, 2019
  • CFIA proposed regulatory amendments to advance a modern regulatory framework related to hatcheries in Canada Gazette, Part I in support of keeping pace with scientific and technological advances and facilitate international trade
  • CFIA is working towards modernizing its feeds regulatory framework and developing proposed regulatory amendments to the Feeds Regulations for pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I in order to reduce overlap and redundancy and increase responsiveness to industry changes
  • CFIA has made progress on updating its food regulatory framework
  • CFIA established a seed regulatory modernization working group to engage a balanced group of seed sector stakeholders in the co-development of regulatory options
    • During winter 2021, CFIA will be conducting a needs assessment to determine the benefits of the current system, opportunities for change, and issues that need to be addressed
    • These activities will help to ensure that the seed regulatory framework is flexible and meets current and future needs for crop production in Canada
  • To address stakeholder comments that "food regulations are out of date, limiting flexibility and industry's ability to innovate", Health Canada has proposed taking incremental steps to re-design its food regulations
    • Amendments to 3 marketing authorizations for food additives were published in Canada Gazette, Part II in June 2019 and have come into force
    • In 2019 and early 2020, Health Canada, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, worked on the development of proposed options to manage the oversight of human milk fortifiers
      • In fall 2020, further consultation on the proposed regulations were held
      • Health Canada is targeting publication of the final regulations in Canada Gazette, Part II, in winter 2021
    • On December 3, 2020, Health Canada and the CFIA issued a joint interim policy statement to permit the use of an additional protein quality method, effective immediately
    • Health Canada is working to amend the Food and Drug Regulations to allow for rapid updates to microbiological criteria and the list of scientific methodologies used to determine food safety
      • Public and industry stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed amendments during pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I, which is targeting fall 2021
    • Health Canada is developing regulations for supplemented foods
      • Pre-consultations were held with key industry and health stakeholders in fall 2020 in advance of the pre-publication of the proposed amendments in Canada Gazette, Part I, which is targeting spring 2021
    • Health Canada is further committed to consulting with our partners and stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive picture of the changing food landscape, which will help identify the next suite of regulatory modernization priorities
  • To address stakeholder concerns that "the regulatory framework for veterinary drugs creates unnecessary barriers, is not internationally harmonized and limits therapeutic options in Canada", Health Canada is developing an adaptive, licensing scheme to effectively regulate veterinary drugs throughout their lifecycles
    • These measures will be advanced as part of the broader "agile licensing for drugs" regulatory proposal introduced under the Health and Biosciences Sector Roadmap
    • Public and industry stakeholders will be consulted on the proposed regulatory changes in advance of pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I, which is targeting spring 2022
  • Health Canada is working to amend the Pest Control Products Regulations to permit use of electronic labels and internationally aligned label formats, as well as to improve the readability of labels
    • Canadians will have the opportunity to provide comments at a pre-consultation expected in 2021, as well as during the pre-publication of the proposed amendments in Canada Gazette, Part l, which is targeting fall 2021
    • Health Canada continues to advance work on potential statutory amendments to the Pest Control Products Act to broaden the Minister of Health's ability to make label changes without an application in certain circumstances
  • Health Canada has made progress on potential amendments to the Pest Control Products Regulations to update current authorizations for pest control products for which registration is not required
    • Public and industry stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide comments on the proposed regulatory amendments during the Canada Gazette, Part l, which is targeting fall 2021
    • Health Canada continues to advance work on potential statutory amendments to the Pest Control Products Actto make it easier to make risk-based authorizations and to exercise appropriate post-market oversight for products with lower well-characterized risks
  • Health Canada completed amendments to the Pest Control Products Act as part of the Budget Implementation Act, 2019
    • These amendments reduce duplicative or unnecessary work related to the post-market review process and have come into force
    • In 2020, Health Canada also undertook broad consultations on the Integrated Approach to the pesticide review program
      • A "What was heard" report on those consultations will be available in early 2021
      • Health Canada continues to explore implementation details for the Integrated Approach to the pesticide review program, building on internal approaches initiated in fall 2020
      • Timelines for full implementation are under development
  • AAFC and the Canadian Grain Commission (CGC) have held preliminary discussions with stakeholders and conducted analysis to identify possible needs for amendments to legislation
    • In March 2020, AAFC prepared a discussion document for consultations, and was planning on launching consultations so that all interested stakeholders would have the opportunity to comment on the Canada Grain Act and CGC modernization
    • The launch of this consultation process has been delayed to early 2021
    • The consultation process is the first step toward fulfilling this roadmap commitment
  • DFO is developing the proposed General Aquaculture Regulations (GAR) in phases
    • The initial phases are underway to improve aquaculture-related content in existing Fisheries Act regulations, starting with exempting cultivated shellfish from the Atlantic Fishery Regulations and the Maritime Provinces Fishery Regulations as soon as early 2021
    • The phased approach will allow DFO to reduce red tape and administrative burden as well as address immediate modernization priorities in the short term while work continues on developing the proposed federal aquaculture act and GAR
  • PHAC and CFIA have advanced work to address misalignment and duplication between Canada's regulatory regimes for human and animal pathogen oversight
    • Key results to date include: successfully implementing a collaborative human and animal pathogen program; agreeing on the definition alignment in the next version of the jointly-published Canadian Biosafety Standard (v3) (publication planned for 2021); and CFIA on-boarding PHAC's case management system for containment laboratory licences

Competitiveness in domestic and international markets

  • CFIA conducted internal consultations on an engagement framework to support developing a competitiveness and innovation policy in February 2020
    • An external consultation is planned for early 2021 to solicit stakeholder input on the main elements of interest to consider in future policy development efforts
  • Supported by funding announced in the 2018 Fall Economic Statement, AAFC, CFIA, and Health Canada have continued to advance Canada's influence and participation in international standards setting bodies
    • World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH; founded as Office International des Épizooties (OIE))
      • Canada is working closely with the WOAH to ensure a strategic regional approach to preventing the entry and responding to the threat of African swine fever (ASF)
      • Canada leads an expert group on ASF for the region, and supports the development of international guidance on the use of compartmentalization for ASF to ensure business continuity should ASF enter Canada
    • International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
      • Canada plays a leadership role in many of the IPPC's initiatives, including the development of a framework draft commodity-based standards for phytosanitary measures, guidance on e-Commerce to increase awareness on associated phytosanitary risks, and guidance for reducing phytosantiary risks associated with the movement of sea containers
      • In addition, Canada chairs the Sea Containers Task Force and is also involved in the North American Sea Containers Initiative
      • These efforts support minimizing impediments to trade and create predictable and expanded market access
    • Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex)
      • Canada continues to engage in advancing Codex initiatives on developing standards, guidelines, and recommendations that protect consumer health and promote fair practices in food trade
      • This includes improving the procedures and tools to maximize the effectiveness and timeliness of Canada's engagement in Codex Committees and electronic working groups
      • Of particular note, Canada supported technical training on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues approach on pesticide residue analysis, which recommends pesticide maximum residue limits to Codex
      • Over the next year, Canada will continue to participate in the work at Codex, including Committees focusing on antimicrobial resistance and pesticide residues
  • In response to comments that "Canadian livestock producers do not have access to the same veterinary drugs as their counterparts in other countries", Health Canada is working to create an accelerated pathway to allow certain submissions for veterinary drugs intended for unmet medical needs (minor uses and minor species) to be approved in Canada
    • These measures will be advanced as part of the broader "agile licensing for drugs" regulatory proposal introduced under the Health and Biosciences Sector Roadmap
    • Public and industry stakeholders will have the opportunity to provide comments through pre-publication in Canada Gazette, Part I, which is targeting spring 2022
  • Stakeholders have identified that "the pre-market assessment for certain food products can be lengthy"
    • To address this, Health Canada is exploring further collaboration with like-minded jurisdictions to use foreign reviews in pre-market assessments of certain food products
    • Health Canada is finalizing its feasibility study on conducting joint pre-market safety assessments or sharing assessments
    • Health Canada will work to implement the recommendations from the study and intends to have processes in place by the end of the 2021 to 2022 fiscal year
  • CFIA developed a domestic comparability assessment tool (DCAT) for provincial-territorial governments to assess their food safety systems against the federal system
    • This was completed in support of identifying points of comparability and areas that may require modification
    • Currently, Saskatchewan has assessed their provincial meat inspection system using the DCAT
    • Alberta and Manitoba are also undertaking the process
  • In 2019 to 2020, AAFC conducted engagement activities with industry members and CFIA led a broader consultation with all Canadians to arrive at a general consensus on a proposed new policy for the "Product of Canada" claim
    • While there are different policy considerations, work is expected to be completed soon
    • Increasing the number of products that can be labelled as "Made in Canada" or "Product of Canada" will help Canadians make informed choices, increase demand, and support economic recovery
  • Following extensive consultations with the sector, AAFC presented an economic analysis on a value creation model for wheat and other cereal crops to stakeholders
    • AAFC also signalled that consultations would be put on hold until greater industry consensus could be reached on a way forward
    • Since this announcement, producer groups and seed industry members have been collaboratively developing guiding principles to advance discussions
    • AAFC will continue to follow sector-led discussions and consider a path forward in consultation with industry

Risk-based, efficient, predictable regulatory programs

  • In 2019, an industry-government working group was formed and developed and presented options to clarify how plant products of biotechnology are regulated
    • Expert engagement sessions for further technical and scientific analysis were held in June 2020 jointly hosted by Health Canada, CFIA and AAFC
    • A virtual expert panel was also held in October 2020
    • Health Canada and CFIA's plant programs have used this input to develop proposals for new guidance
    • Public engagement on the draft guidance is anticipated for early 2021
    • AAFC, CFIA, and Health Canada will continue to work together to advance this initiative, particularly in improving the draft guidance and implementing a well-defined process for consulting with regulatory authorities on whether a product is novel
  • CFIA has integrated multiple services into the Digital Service Delivery Platform (DSDP), including plant and animal import permits, export certificates for live animals to the United States of America (USA), dairy products for over 20 countries and the certificate of free sale (for the non-federally registered sector, honey, maple, and processed product commodities), inspection activities for non-meat food programs, and applications for fertilizers and supplements registrations
    • These advancements have made it easier and faster to consolidate data and have improved user experience with submitting applications for permissions and certificates for commodities currently integrated into DSDP as well as accessing and printing inspection reports related to non-meat food programs directly from the MyCFIA dashboard
    • Work is underway to transition more CFIA services into MyCFIA to support full case management in the future
  • CFIA developed and piloted a tool designed to assess voluntary third-party oversight programs
    • It will be posted publicly for third-party oversight programs to conduct self-assessments against federal requirements, which CFIA would review
    • This work will be used to help inform CFIA's risk-based inspection approach by recognizing third-party oversight programs' contribution to food safety
  • To support consistent inspections, CFIA developed a common inspection architecture and updated the Standard Inspection Process (SIP) guidance documents, which will provide more predictable outcomes for regulated parties
    • In 2019, implementation occurred for non-meat food inspections, while alignment within the meat program and the plant and animal business lines is currently being rolled out in a phased approach
  • CFIA has advanced work to reduce duplication of oversight between federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) requirements
    • Notably, CFIA has signed 6 Umbrella Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and has engaged with the remaining provinces and territories to support information sharing, emergency management, and regulatory and scientific collaboration
    • CFIA continues to work with Quebec on a single point of contact for food inspection work and use of tailored inspection tools
    • As a member of the FPT Food Safety Committee, CFIA is helping to develop a Pan-Canadian Comprehensive Approach for food surveillance activities
  • In response to comments that multiple, sequential food labelling changes made independently by Health Canada and CFIA create unnecessary costs and burden on industry, Health Canada and CFIA, with support from AAFC, are in the process of developing a strategy to coordinate timelines for future food labelling changes
    • Health Canada and CFIA are planning to hold consultations with stakeholders in winter 2021
  • To improve the clarity around data protections requirement concerning pesticides, Health Canada published an updated "ministerial agreement" in April 2019, to help innovators and "generic" producers reach compensation agreements for pre-market reviews

Novel regulatory approaches

  • AAFC's Sector Specific Government-Stakeholder Collaboration on Regulations initiative was launched in March 2020 and is comprised of 2 components: an Industry-Government Agile Regulations Table (Agile Regulations Table) and an internal Regulatory Hub
    • This innovative regulatory approach is meant to be a platform for sector-wide, shared solution approaches to help government and industry work together to address horizontal and systemic regulatory issues facing the agriculture and agri-food sector
    • It will also provide a focal point for AAFC's contribution to broader government regulatory reform efforts and strengthen capacity for regulatory policy efforts
    • The Agile Regulations Table's membership includes diverse stakeholder perspectives which span the full spectrum of the sector as well as government officials from both regulatory and economic departments and agencies
    • In December 2020, the Agile Regulations Table held 2 initial meetings which focused on defining a vision and reviewing potential challenges and opportunities which will serve as a basis for short, medium and longer term efforts to improve the agriculture and agri-food regulatory system
  • CFIA completed the examination of the use of blockchain in the existing regulations pertaining to livestock traceability and provided industry and government project participants with a report on lessons learned
    • In the coming year, CFIA will work with the Standards Council of Canada to look at supply chains and the use of data governance and distributed ledger technology standards to improve consumer safety and empowerment
    • In addition, CFIA will continue to collaborate with a group of federal partners experimenting in this space
  • In 2018 to 2019, CFIA and an industry 'champion' completed a 3-month pilot study to explore a shared risk relationship in which the champion voluntarily shared a subset of additional establishment data beyond the standard requirements with CFIA for risk analysis and assessment
    • CFIA used this pilot study to assess how additional industry data could improve CFIA's understanding of risk and subsequently contribute to CFIA's program design for risk mitigation
    • In 2020 to 2021, CFIA is currently exploring additional work with industry and stakeholders on technology to understand and enhance inspection capabilities prioritized against COVID-19 requirements

Related links