The CFIA Compliance Continuum

PDF (3215 kb)

The CFIA sets federal regulatory requirements, makes sure regulated parties are following those requirements, and takes action when they are not. Industry is responsible for meeting federal regulatory requirements. Provinces and territories enforce regulations under their jurisdiction.

The CFIA provides support along the path to compliance by providing industry with the tools, resources, guidance, and services they need to understand and follow regulations. Using a risk-based approach, the Agency also conducts inspections to verify that requirements are being met. When they are not, the CFIA may use control measures to address any immediate risk, as well as enforcement actions to compel a regulated party back into compliance.

The CFIA strives to be transparent and accountable in how it does business. In addition to providing industry with recourse options, as provided by law, the CFIA encourages continuous feedback and dialogue with regulated parties.

Promoting Compliance

Communications, guidance and support services to industry, both during consultations on proposed regulations and once regulations come into force, is an integral part of the CFIA's compliance promotion activities. To help industry comply with requirements, the CFIA provides accessible and plain language tools, products, guidance and services to build awareness and understanding of regulations and policies. Examples of these products and services may include: web-based interactive tools, facts sheets, infographics, videos, technical guidance, social media posts, and online services such as Ask CFIA and My CFIA.

Verifying Compliance

The CFIA conducts a range of inspection activities to assess whether a regulated party is meeting regulatory requirements. These may include:

  • visually inspecting food commodities, plants or animals
  • reviewing company records and preventive control plans
  • interviewing company personnel
  • observing plant processes
  • sampling and testing products and food contact surfaces
  • assessing the quality attributes and standards of products

The CFIA determines areas of highest risk based on a number of factors, including:

  • scientific analysis of potential hazards that can occur at particular points in production
  • previously identified risks associated with specific products
  • a company's compliance history
  • random sampling and testing

Yes, industry has met regulatory requirements: Great! It's business as usual.

No, industry has not met regulatory requirements: In this case, the CFIA will enforce that regulation.

Responding to Non-compliance

Where a regulated party is not complying with requirements, the CFIA will choose from a number of regulatory response options, including control measures and enforcement actions.

Applying control measures

A control measure is an action that addresses an immediate risk to human, plant or animal health or the environment. Examples of immediate measures that the CFIA may take to control a risk are:

  • refuse to certify
  • start or stop activities
  • seize and detain shipments and products
  • order that an imported product be removed from Canada
  • quarantine, restrict or prohibit movement of a shipment
  • dispose of, or destroy a product
  • issue a mandatory recall
  • order a treatment or vaccination of an animal
  • add conditions to a permission

Taking enforcement actions

An enforcement action is based on the seriousness of the non-compliance, and considers such factors as the potential risk or actual harm, as well as the compliance history and intent of the regulated party. Once a regulated party has been notified that it is not in compliance, and a decision has been made that an enforcement action is required, some options are:

  • issuing a letter of non-compliance; or
  • applying an Administrative Monetary Penalty (AMP), either with or without a penalty; or
  • suspending or cancelling a permission (i.e., licence, registration or permit)–varies with legislation.

In some cases, the CFIA may recommend prosecution, depending on the severity of the non-compliance, and previous enforcement actions.

The CFIA treats regulated parties in a fair, impartial, transparent and consistent manner. We take action based on the response that we believe has the best chance of achieving ongoing compliance.

Offering Recourse

The CFIA recognizes that its decisions and actions may have an impact on regulated parties. In turn, regulated parties have the right to challenge a decision, as provided by legislation. For instance, in the case of an operator's licence being suspended or revoked, the regulated party may have a right to be heard. Other options include:

  • registering complaints and appeals related to quality of service, administrative errors and regulatory decisions with the CFIA Complaints and Appeals Office
  • appeal to the assessor (as it applies to animal or plant compensation)
  • requesting a ministerial review as it applies to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act;
  • appealing to the Canada Agricultural Review Tribunal (CART), as it applies to the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act and Board of Arbitration Appeals; and
  • requesting a judicial review from the Federal Court.

Learn more about the CFIA's Compliance and Enforcement Operational Policy

Date modified: