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Electronic notes

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1.0 Purpose

To provide the inspectorate with guidelines on how to take and store notes electronically. The objective of this guideline is to protect the integrity of the electronic notes, which may be required to support future CFIA inspection and enforcement activities and/or to defend the decisions made by the CFIA if they are challenged, either informally or by legal proceedings.

2.0 Background

With the Agency moving towards digitization, inspectors will have the ability to take notes, pictures, scans and videos electronically during inspections.

Notes are taken to provide a record of the inspector's actions and observations. The notes may be subsequently used for purposes, such as:

While there are existing guidelines and training for paper note taking, there are limited guidelines/policy and training for electronic note taking within the CFIA. Operations Branch and Human Resources Branch are currently updating the existing note taking course for inspectors to include electronic note taking.

3.0 Procedure

3.1 Inspectors will clearly record their actions and observations made during inspections, including dates, places, times, individuals present, and other pertinent information.

3.2 As per Agency program policies, once the inspection is completed, inspectors are to ensure all relevant pictures/videos and notes are saved on their tablet and/or into an electronic database such as the Electronic Inspection Worksheet (EIW), the Records Documents and Information Management System (RDIMS), the Multi-Commodity Activities Program (MCAP), etc.

4.0 Responsibilities


5.0 Additional Contact Information

For any questions related to these guidelines, please contact Integrated Asset Management, Operations Branch or refer to Annex-1 - Frequently asked questions.

Annex 1 - Frequently asked questions – Electronic notes

Q1: What are notes

A1: Notes are a recording of your actions and observations. They are used for reporting purposes and to refresh your memory. As a documented record, notes can assist in establishing a history of compliance.

Electronic notes, digital notebook, paper notes and paper notebooks are not your personal property; they belong to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Notes, memos and correspondence (including everything in your notebooks) are subject to disclosure in any legal proceedings. All records held by the CFIA are subject to the Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Act and to the Privacy Act (PA).

You must protect the personal and confidential information found in your notes and use your notes for CFIA–mandated operational purposes only.

Q2: How is sensitive information protected by the system? What do I need to do to help keep it secure

A2: There are several ways that sensitive information is protected.

Q3: What is the security level for pictures that are taken on the device and uploaded to an Agency approved electronic database? There may be financial information of the regulated party, for example, in the picture.

A3: All the information, including pictures, scans, etc., uploaded into an Agency approved electronic database, such as the Electronic Inspection Worksheet (EIW) or the Electronic Service Delivery Platform (ESDP), is classified at the Protected B level. For further information on classification level documents, refer to the following link: classification levels

Q4: How must inspector notes be stored when not in use

A4: As a "Protected B" document, inspector paper notebooks must be stored in a container with a keyed lock in an operations zone or in a locked office. File folders must also be marked as "Protected B".

Electronic notes, including pictures, scans, etc., must be uploaded into the EIW or the ESDP after each inspection.

Q5: How long must inspector notes be saved

A5: As per the CFIA's Records Disposition Authority, inspector notes should be saved for 10 years after the date of the last entry, regardless of format:

There are exceptions to the 10 year rule. All information relating to an investigation of an individual or company for a contravention should be kept for as long as needed. For example, inspector notebooks may provide information pertaining to CFIA's Litigation Hold List. Should records contain litigation issues, they should be kept until such a time that the court case has been resolved, the records have reached the end of their retention period, and their disposal has been authorized.

Electronic notes uploaded into the Agency approved electronic database will be retained as per CFIA's Records Disposition Authority 2003/015.

Q6: What is the "date of last entry"

A6: The "date of last entry" is the date on which the last inspection was recorded in the inspector notes. This may occur when:

Q7: What do I use to take electronic notes on my device?

A7: You can use the Microsoft OneNote application found on your device. A computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration, it gathers users' notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries. Notes can be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network.

Q8: What are some best practises for note taking

A8: The following are a few note taking best practices:

Q9: How do I upload my electronic notes into the CFIA database

A9: Once you have completed your inspection notes, they can be uploaded directly into RDIMS.

Importing Documents into RDIMS

You can import a document or documents into RDIMS through the Import Files command.

  1. Ensure that you are in RDIMS. On the File menu, click Import Files.
  2. In the Open dialogue box, locate and select the document(s) you wish to import into RDIMS.
  3. Click Open.
  4. When the Electronic Document form appears, complete the profile.
  5. You can use the Apply to all option if you are importing several documents that have the same metadata.
  6. Click Save. It is recommended that you delete the source documents (the original record containing the details).

Using Drag and Drop

Any document can be dragged and dropped from the network drive into RDIMS.

  1. Expand My Computer. Expand any network drive.
  2. Find the appropriate path. The contents of the directory will appear on the right side of the screen.
  3. Drag and drop the files you wish to move to the RDIMS library named CFIA-ACIA.
  4. The RDIMS document profile form will appear. Fill out the fields and click Save.


OneNote documents in RDIMS cannot be amended after they are uploaded and will appear as "Read-Only" documents to those with permission to view them, regardless of access level or if original author.

Upload into the Electronic Inspection Worksheet (EIW) – Files (pictures, videos, notes, etc.) can be uploaded to the EIW via the 'Notes' field. Refer to EIW User Manual (internal access only) and Appendix H: Recording inspection Information of the Standard Inspection Procedures (internal access only).


In the current EIW, RDIMS documents cannot be uploaded. Files must be saved locally on the computer or on a shared drive.

Clicking the Done button saves the note and associated attachment in the EIW.

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