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Licensing, regulation and public hearings

The Canadian nuclear regulatory framework is comprehensive and, in large part, technology neutral – allowing all types of technologies to be safely licensed and regulated.


A licence is required for all nuclear substances and radiation devices in Canada, including new nuclear reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs).

To be granted a licence, the proponent must follow the established licencing process, submit an application and complete the necessary environmental review.

A vendor or reactor designer can participate in an optional pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR). This is meant to obtain feedback early in the design process prior to the submission of a licence application to build and operate a new nuclear reactor. A VDR does not certify a reactor design or result in a decision by the Commission under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.


All nuclear reactor facilities, including small modular reactors (SMRs), are Class IA nuclear facilities under the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations.

Reactor facilities include:

  • nuclear power plants or SMRs for the generation of power or heat for industrial processes
  • small reactors for non-power generation uses (e.g., isotope production, and research and development activities)

In regulating SMRs and new technologies, the CNSC can apply the same criteria used to regulate traditional reactor facilities. This will be done through a risk-informed approach, by applying regulatory oversight that is in line with the risk associated with the regulated activity.

Public hearings

Members of the public, Indigenous Nations and communities, and stakeholders who have information that may be useful to the Commission or who have an interest in the matter being considered, can formally participate as intervenors in public hearings.

As the CNSC continues to prepare to regulate new nuclear reactors and SMRs, it is committed to keeping Canadians informed and to sharing information on new nuclear activities in Canada.

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