Audit of CFIA External Stakeholder Complaints Process


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) internal audit function provides a professional, independent and objective appraisal that uses a disciplined, evidence-based approach to assess and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control and governance processes. The intent is to assist decision makers in exercising oversight and control over the organization and applying sound risk management.

The internal audit function is accountable to the CFIA's Audit Committee, of which the President is a member. All internal audit findings and recommendations must be reported to the Audit Committee, and all audits must be carried out in accordance with federal policy and legislative requirements, including the Treasury Board's Policy on Internal Audit and the Federal Accountability Act.

CFIA internal audit projects are selected based on an annual multi-year audit planning process and are then reflected in the Agency's Audit Plan for review by the Audit Committee and approval of the President.


Service excellence is a CFIA priority. Providing those with an interest in the Agency's work with a straightforward, transparent and fair mechanism to send in complaints and have their complaints heard assists the Agency in meeting this priority.

The CFIA's Complaints and Appeals Office (CAO) provides consumers, producers and industry stakeholders in Canada's agriculture and agri-food industry with a transparent and easy way to register complaints about the CFIA's services, administrative errors and regulatory decisions.

The CAO was subject to an audit in 2016 to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the management of the external complaints processes and the main controls that have been put in place by the CAO to support its mandate. Recommendations on processes are outlined in the report.

Key Findings

The management of the external complaints processes and controls were found to be well designed and generally efficient.

Some recommendations included:

  • Improving information management through activities such as keeping consistent file documentation and ensuring all documents/files include information security markings.
  • A more systematic approach to outreach, especially in Areas and regions, is needed.
  • A review of the performance measurement strategy framework—including a review of performance measures and targets—should proceed.
  • Accountabilities, roles and responsibilities related to the tracking or follow-up of management actions to address observations, should be established. Currently, there is no formal mechanism in place to inform senior management across the Agency of themes and systemic issues identified through stakeholder complaints.

Most importantly, the Agency would benefit from a formal approach to engaging senior management, as well as oversight protocols with respect to identified opportunities for improvement.

A more systematic approach to stakeholder outreach activities would also improve awareness of the CAO.

Complete report

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