Regulatory Framework Overview
- What makes up the CNSC’s regulatory framework?
- What is the difference between an act and a regulation?
- What are requirements and guidance?
- What is a regulatory document?
- Other guidance
- How does the CNSC consult with the public?
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates the development and use of nuclear energy and nuclear substances in Canada to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians as well as the environment, and to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Established in 2000 under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), the CNSC reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. To safely regulate an evolving nuclear sector, the CNSC maintains an effective and flexible regulatory framework.
The CNSC's regulatory framework consists of laws passed by Parliament that govern the regulation of Canada's nuclear industry, and regulations, licences and documents that the CNSC uses to regulate the industry. The CNSC is committed to providing regulatory instruments that make its expectations clear. Published regulatory documents are considered to be living documents subject to regular review, so your feedback is welcome at any time.
In Canada, an act is a means by which laws are made by Parliament. A regulation, often referred to as “delegated legislation” or “subordinate legislation”, may be viewed as the operational part of a law, commonly dealing with matters such as what is meant by certain terms used in an act, procedures and processes that must be followed or standards that must be met in order to comply with an act.
Regulations are not made by Parliament, but rather by someone to whom Parliament has delegated the authority to make them. The Commission has the authority under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA) to make regulations, with the approval of the Governor in Council, for matters related to its mandate.
Requirements are mandatory: licensees or applicants must meet them to obtain or retain a licence or certificate to use nuclear substances or to operate a nuclear facility. Licences may reference other documents, including regulatory documents or other national or international standards. Once referenced in a licence, these documents become mandatory and legally enforceable.
Guidance provides direction to licensees and applicants on how to meet the requirements set out in the CNSC’s regulations, regulatory documents and licences. They also give more information about techniques that CNSC staff use to evaluate specific problems, or data needed in the review of applications for licences.
Regulatory documents are a key part of the CNSC’s regulatory framework for nuclear activities in Canada. They explain to licensees and applicants what they must achieve in order to meet the requirements set out in the NSCA and the regulations made under the NSCA.
Regulatory documents may contain practical guidance and suggestions to licensees and applicants on how to meet the CNSC’s regulatory requirements. Such guidance may include, but is not limited to, information on possible approaches to the design of nuclear facilities, the design and implementation of required management and operational programs, and forms for applying for licences or reporting information to the Commission.
Other internal forms of guidance can include any other documents and applicable reports, CNSC publications, Staff Review Procedures, and CNSC inspection procedures. The CNSC produces plain-language publications that describe nuclear-related issues as well as regulatory requirements and processes. They are intended for the general public, governments and other stakeholders.
External forms of guidance can include information on best practices and domestic and international standards including standards published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). CSA standards are an important part of the CNSC’s regulatory framework and complement regulatory documents that are developed by CNSC staff.
The CNSC holds transparent consultations with the public, licensees and interested organizations. These consultations are a fundamental part of how the CNSC develops many of the tools within its regulatory framework.
The CNSC welcomes public input on draft documents, proposed amendments, and discussion papers that are open for comment on its Consultation page and the Government of Canada’s Consulting with Canadians Web site. Each document is made available for public comment for a specified period of time.
Discussion papers play an important role in the selection and development of the CNSC’s regulatory approaches. They are used to consult with the public to solicit early public feedback on CNSC policies or approaches. The use of discussion papers early in the regulatory process underlines the CNSC’s commitment to transparent consultation.
For more information
- Government-Wide Forward Regulatory Plans
- The Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management
- The Red Tape Reduction Action Plan
- The Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council