Terms of reference - EAC

1.0 Purpose

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is Canada's largest regulatory agency and is responsible for safeguarding Canada's food, animals and plants. The CFIA's mandate is to protect Canadians from preventable health risks, protect consumers through a fair and effective food, animal and plant regulatory regime that supports competitive domestic and international markets, sustain the plant and animal resource base and contribute to the security of Canada's food supply and agricultural resource base.

The CFIA can benefit from informed and objective advice to help it further its mandate, in the face of a changing and increasingly complex operating environment.

2.0 Mandate of the Expert Advisory Committee (EAC)

The mandate of the EAC is to provide the CFIA with objective professional and technical advice on key issues related to its three business lines: food, animal health and plant health.

The following is a list of possible areas where the EAC could be engaged:

  • linking into academic and scientific research
  • commenting on proposals for policy changes
  • commenting on policy and program frameworks
  • commenting on the CFIA's priorities and risk management strategies
  • understanding industry and international trends and developments
  • providing advice on selected issues as requested by the CFIA

3.0 Reporting structure/governance

The EAC will report to the CFIA through the President of the CFIA, who is the Chair of the EAC. The Executive Vice-President of the CFIA is the Vice-Chair of the EAC. In the event of absence the Vice-Chair will assume the duties assigned to the Chair until such time as the Chair resumes his/her position. The EAC will be supported by a secretariat that is housed within the CFIA.

4.0 Membership

EAC members will be recruited at the senior level from the public and private sectors. The CFIA appoints members and sets the term of the appointments.

4.1 Membership considerations

The EAC shall be composed of 12 to 15 members including the Chair, Vice-Chair, external and ex-officio members. Meeting participants may be invited by the Chair, to ensure an appropriate representation of expertise and experience based on the agenda. Membership of the EAC may include experts from across Canada, but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • plant health
  • animal health
  • food safety
  • risk management
  • public and/or environmental health
  • international trade

A senior level official from Health Canada, Public Health Agency of Canada and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada may be appointed as ex-officio members. The Chair may choose to appoint up to three CFIA officials to the EAC as ex-officio members to represent the CFIA's three business lines.

4.2 Affiliations and interests

To be considered for appointment to the committee, potential external members of the EAC will be required to complete and return the Disclosure of potential Conflict(s) of Interest for advisory body members. It is incumbent upon members to update their declaration in writing, if their personal situation changes. The CFIA will review declarations during the appointment process and on an ongoing basis as updates occur.

4.3 Conflict of interest

Members will perform their duties and arrange their affairs in such a manner that public confidence and the integrity, objectivity, and impartiality of the committee are preserved.

Committee members will be expected to observe the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders.

Any conflict of interest shall be reported in writing to the Chair as part of the Disclosure of potential Conflict(s) of Interest. The secretariat is required to keep them in a registry.

Committee members shall withdraw from any discussion which would put them in a conflictual situation.

4.4 Confidentiality

Any privileged information divulged or obtained during meetings, or provided in support of such meetings, including privileged information obtained from committees established by the CFIA or during meetings with the CFIA management,

  • shall be protected and maintained as confidential
  • without limiting the generality of the foregoing, shall not be discussed in media interviews, external meetings or other public fora until such time as this information has been officially released by the CFIA for public use

External members must sign a membership agreement which includes confidentiality clauses. The agreement prohibits disclosing any confidential information received through participation in the EAC, including information received verbally or in writing. Confidentiality clauses survive after the termination of the membership agreement.

Members must obtain a secret-level security clearance before their appointment to the committee or be in the process of obtaining such a clearance.

4.5 Transparency

To support transparency with respect to discussions and decisions by EAC the CFIA will:

  • publish member biographies, including any affiliations/conflict of interest declarations
  • make public the process for determining appropriate EAC membership and filling vacancies with members of the public/academia/scientific community/industry as required
  • post meeting documents such as agendas, presentations and meeting summaries

4.6 Tenure

Members are appointed for a term of up to three (3) years. The term of appointment of any member may be renewed to a maximum duration of six (6) years.
To ensure continuity of the Committee the EAC secretariat, in consultation with the Chair, will be responsible for scheduling membership appointments that result in systematic rotation of membership.

4.7 Process of resignation

Members will provide fourteen (14) days notice of their intent to resign. The resignation must be in writing and be addressed to the Chair. The letter should state the effective date of resignation.

4.8 Reasons for termination

A member's failure to act according to these Terms of Reference and membership agreement may give cause for termination. If this is the case, the Chair will advise the member in writing, stating the reason for termination and the effective date.

4.9 Travel and expenses

Members shall be reimbursed for expenses incurred while performing EAC duties, such as travel and accommodations, in accordance with the National Joint Council's Travel Directive.

5.0 Roles and responsibilities

5.1 Role of the Chair

The Chair is responsible for the following:

  • overseeing the execution of the EAC and Chairing meetings
  • appointing members to the EAC
  • determining the work and agenda for EAC discussions
  • receiving the advice from the EAC
  • reporting back to the EAC regarding the actions taken based on their advice

5.2 Role of the members

Members of the EAC shall do the following:

  • provide objective and professional advice to the EAC Chair
  • be available and prepared to fully participate in meetings
  • notify the EAC secretariat and the Chair of any changes in the status of their affiliations and interests relevant to the mandate of the EAC.

5.3 Role of the secretariat

The EAC secretariat shall be housed in the CFIA and is responsible for the following:

  • coordinating meeting logistics (including travel)
  • providing strategic advice and support to the Chair
  • providing guidance on issues raised by the EAC and future agenda items

6.0 Management and administration

6.1 Meeting agendas

The Chair determines the agenda for EAC discussions.

6.2 Meeting notices, frequency and invitations

All meetings will be held at the call of the Chair. Meetings will be held in person a minimum of two times per year. Additional meetings and/or teleconferences may be held on an as-needed basis at the discretion of the Chair. Meeting attendance is by invitation only from the EAC secretariat. The EAC will not meet unless a quorum is present. The quorum is determined to be one half of the internal and external members, plus one, and must include the Chair or Vice-Chair.

6.3 Deliberations and reports

Advice from the EAC is provided to the Chair. The EAC is encouraged to reach a consensus in providing advice, whenever possible. Advice will be provided to the Chair during an in-camera session at the end of each meeting. Time will be allotted at the end of each meeting for an in-camera session between the Chair and members. In order to foster open and frank discussions, EAC deliberations will be held in private. A record of discussion will be kept and will be made available upon request, consistent with the Government of Canada's policies and legislation with respect to Cabinet and Government confidences, and access to information and privacy.

6.4 Review

The Chair will annually review the mandate, activities, and terms of reference of the EAC to ensure that they continue to meet ongoing needs. Recommendations for improvement will be considered on an ongoing basis.

The Chair, on behalf of the CFIA, and after consultation with the CFIA Senior Management Committee (SMC), may dissolve the EAC at any time. If this action is taken, the Chair must provide three months written notice to EAC members with the effective date of the dissolution of the EAC.

Updated June 2017