Open and Transparent Agency Framework 2019-2022

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Our goal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is open by design. To preserve trust in Canada's regulatory system for food, plants and animals, it proactively provides:

  • relevant, accurate and timely information
  • meaningful and transparent engagement opportunities

Preserving trust

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is dedicated to safeguarding food, animals and plants, which enhances the health and well-being of Canada's people, environment and economy.

In delivering regulatory programs and services, CFIA seeks to excel as a science-based regulator that is trusted and respected by Canadians and the international community. To realize this vision, public confidence in its activities and decisions is paramount.

The Open and Transparent Agency Framework 2019-2022 is part of CFIA's commitment to increase openness and transparency, accountability and engagement.

Providing relevant, accurate and timely information to Canadians will allow them to better understand how and why the Agency's regulatory decisions are made and, in turn, use this information to make informed choices for themselves, their families and businesses.

Our intent

Through its Open Government initiative, the Government of Canada is increasing openness and transparency by asking all departments and agencies to take steps to maximize the release of government information to Canadians.

CFIA recognizes and understands the right of Canadians to information, given the role it plays in protecting human health, animal welfare, the environment and the economy.

From the time its Transparency Agenda was first initiated in 2011, transparency and openness have been key considerations underpinning CFIA's values. The Agency will continue to expand its existing transparency and openness practices and take on new ones to meet growing public expectations.

Over the long term, in addition to consistently making more information available, CFIA will strive to become open by design by embedding openness and transparency into all of its programs and services from their inception. Further, these efforts will be undertaken while maintaining a focus on users' needs.

Guiding principles

The following principles will guide CFIA's thinking during this new chapter in its Transparency Agenda. The Agency's approach to openness and transparency is:

Open by design

  • Openness and transparency are integrated throughout the entire lifecycle of CFIA programs, policies, services and enabling technologies. From inception, consideration is given to how information generated will be publically released

User-centric

  • Relevant, accurate, and timely information is shared proactively with stakeholders, without waiting for an access to information request
  • Context is provided so that both potential possibilities and limitations of use are clearly communicated

Inclusive

  • Stakeholders and end-users are consulted and engaged as required to ensure openness and transparency initiatives are service-oriented and meet their intended objectives
  • The Agency maintains, and is seen as maintaining, its regulatory independence

Diligent

  • Consequences and impacts (both positive and negative) of providing information are fully considered and balanced prior to release
  • Private and confidential information belonging to individuals and third parties is protected

Agile

  • CFIA's Transparency Agenda evolves and is responsive both to shifts in public and government expectations and changes in its operating environment as part of ensuring it is sustainably implemented

Our objectives

This framework provides the blueprint for specific actions CFIA will take to visibly increase openness and transparency from 2019-2022, as part of its longer-term goal of becoming open by design.

It is also a foundational piece that supports the Agency in delivering on its five strategic priorities, as articulated in Responding to Today, Building for the Future:

  1. Modern regulatory toolkit
  2. Integrated risk management
  3. Consistent and efficient inspections
  4. Digital-first tools and services
  5. Global leadership

The objectives of this framework are to:

  • empower Canadians to make informed decisions by releasing relevant, accurate and timely information and providing more opportunities to engage with the Agency
  • equip all stakeholders with information that will help them navigate the regulatory system and in turn comply with regulation
  • communicate how CFIA responds to incidents of non-compliance and explain how it makes regulatory decisions as part of its compliance, enforcement and scientific activities

The framework is composed of three themes that together map out a program of work to achieve these objectives:

  1. Empower
  2. Equip
  3. Respond

Empower

Expected outcome:

  • Canadians have more information about food safety, animal health and plant protection to help them make informed decisions, and increased opportunities to engage with CFIA

The public expects to be able to know how the Agency protects them from risks to their health and safety, and to have a say in and see how government policies, programs, and services are designed and delivered.

Therefore, CFIA will:

  1. describe the Agency's role and educate the public about how it delivers its mandate
  2. release science-based information, including results from CFIA science activities and research that will assist Canadians to make informed decisions about the food, animal and plant products they purchase and consume
  3. increase access to and transparency of consultation and engagement activities on CFIA's regulatory, service and strategic initiatives

Informing and engaging Canadians

CFIA will work to consistently provide relevant information to Canadians, ensuring quality and timeliness. Resources currently available on CFIA's website include:

Equip

Expected outcome:

  • Stakeholders have the information and tools they need to achieve compliance with regulatory requirements

CFIA, the public, industry, and other partners all play a role in contributing toward a culture of compliance. Providing access to information, tools, and opportunities to engage with CFIA help promote compliance with rules put in place to protect Canada's food, plants and animals.

Therefore, CFIA will:

  1. provide up-to-date guidance to support compliance with regulatory requirements
  2. release scientific information and tools that can be used to influence compliance and regulatory decisions
  3. release more information about CFIA's international and market access activities

Promoting compliance

Protecting food, plants, animals and human health is a shared responsibility and CFIA works with industry and other stakeholders to achieve this. Resources CFIA already provide on its website include:

  • Notices to Industry that provide information to industry and stakeholders about changes to CFIA programs and services, and upcoming consultations
  • The My CFIA portal that provides convenient and secure access to online services
  • CFIA's Guidance Document Repository, that provides guidance to regulated parties about program and regulatory requirements
  • Operational guidance and a toolkit for businesses as part of supporting regulated parties to comply with new regulations under the Safe Food for Canadians Act
  • Interactive tools that act as references to support regulatory compliance, such as the Industry Labelling Tool

Respond

Expected outcome:

  • Canadians can see how and why CFIA takes action to safeguard their interests as part of enhancing their well-being, and that of the environment and the economy

CFIA takes a preventative, risk-informed approach to target and manage non-compliance. CFIA has a number of tools it can use to respond to non-compliance.

Therefore, CFIA will:

  1. release more complete information about regulatory processes, actions and decisions
  2. communicate outcomes of compliance and enforcement actions across all three areas regulated by CFIA – food, animals and plants
  3. demonstrate how CFIA applies a risk-informed approach to protect the well-being of Canadians

Delivering our mandate

CFIA will expand information about its compliance and enforcement activities and general operations. Information currently available on CFIA's website includes:

Our Commitment

CFIA is committed to demonstrating its achievements as it implements this framework.

The Agency will publish an overview of its plans each year, as well as an annual report outlining its progress.

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