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Author: Gordon D. Bonnar

Distributed Regulatory Policy Paper Template

During my time in Regulatory Affairs, I have been building up a policy paper template to help program areas undertake and document the required initial analysis required for the development of regulatory amendments.

While this template is currently in production, I think there is substantial room for improvement and I’ve been looking for the best way to get input from other policy analysts to ensure that this template is the best product it can be. Additionally, analysts from other departments can bring their various experiences to the table to ensure that we end up with the best possible template possible.

I determined the best approach for sharing the template widely and being able to accept input from a variety of sources would be to convert it to Markdown and host the template on github.Currently, the template has ten major sections:

  1. Issue
  2. Objective
  3. Background
  4. Options Analysis
  5. Detailed Description of the Regulatory Solution
  6. Stakeholders
  7. Impact Analysis
  8. Timelines
  9. Legal Considerations
  10. Risks and Other Considerations

I started work on this template over a decade ago and have tried to keep it updated with the latest changes to Government directives and policies. I hope that by publishing this template that we can reduce the duplication of efforts as each regulatory affairs team tries to create their own templates. Additionally, comments and changes by other analysts will improve the quality of the template for anyone who wishes to use it.

If this seems like something that might interest you, please take a look at the Regulatory Policy Paper template on github. If you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with GitHub, or have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. I’m more than happy to help.

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Rethinking things

I’ve been trying to rekindle my interest in blogging for several years now. I’ve always taken the same approach, trying to write and being hypercritical of my efforts. I always felt guilty when I took breaks from writing. I’ve been doing the same and recently realised that it’s not making me learn anything, improve anything, or do good.

So, I’m going to write about things if I feel like it and at whatever interval works for me. Hopefully if I give myself a little room, I can begin writing again and enjoying it.

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Regulatory Affairs – April 2021

April 2021


Spring is officially here; the sun is out, and we’re gaining ground against the COVID-19 pandemic.  I’d like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the first issue. I have always enjoyed sharing interesting things with other people.  I’ve had some form of blog since 1998, even though my current endeavour, Policy Geek, has been sitting idle for almost a year now.  I am hoping that the research and writing I put into producing this newsletter will re-ignite my interest in writing about the state of policy analysis and regulatory systems around the world.

For the moment, the newsletter will only contain public information or links to Government of Canada resources available to all public servants.  The majority of the feedback I received, came from other departments and agencies and I feel a general approach would be more useful for a broad audience. I will reassess this in the future and determine if there is demand for a CRA internal version which, for example, could point to published regulations and CRA specific policy initiatives and events.  Let me know what you’d like to see.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I did putting it together.

Gordon D. Bonnar

What to Read: Books, Articles, Reports, and Blogs

Regulatory Reform: The Search for the Elusive Silver Bullet
Michael Presley, Adjunct Professor, Regulatory Governance Institute, Carleton University

While this blog post from the Regulatory Governance Institute at Carleton University may have been published in 2019, the core argument rings true today.  We’re well on our way to a more robust regulatory regime in Canada, but we aren’t there yet.

“Even the best designed and consulted regulatory proposal can prove ineffective if it isn’t well implemented and monitored for its impact. Every regulation is actually an experiment and only careful management, monitoring and adjustments will increase the likelihood that it will work as intended.”
Read the full post

Staffing the Crisis: The Capacity of Eleven Municipal Departments Across Canada
Stefan Hodges, Manitoba Office, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

This study covers eleven municipalities in Canada and assesses them for accessible housing tools and support.  The study, in no uncertain times, calls out Manitoba for lackluster policy and implementation of tools to improve access and quality of affordable rental unites.  One uplifting result of the study is an outline of the decision Québec which has allowed Montréal top undertake novel and empowered approaches to improving access to affordable rental housing.  I was saddened to see that Ottawa was not included in the study.

“With new authority granted from the province of Québec in 2017, Montréal is developing a by-law that will require the inclusion of affordable and social housing units in large developments. The mandated inclusion of affordable units is a bold regulatory power that has not been seen in other Canadian cities. In most provinces, Cities have not been granted the legislative power to mandate the inclusion of affordable units, so they have instead found ways of encouraging or assisting the development of affordable housing by offering incentives”
Read the full study

How do laws and regulations affect competitiveness: The role of regulatory impact assessment
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Regulatory Policy Working Papers No.15

“The report categorises regulatory impacts on competitiveness into three strongly interrelated components: cost competitiveness, innovation, and international competitiveness. Given these interlinkages, there is scope to develop a more complete framework for policy makers to define and assess the competitiveness impacts of regulation as part of their regulatory impact analysis] processes. “

The Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) partnered with the OECD to identify critical factors needed to implement competitiveness assessments as a regular component of regulatory impact analysis.  TBS is seeking feedback on the working paper. Please direct your comments to
Read the Report


Legistics – Legislative Drafting
Department of Justice

For the many regulators who do not have legal education the Department of Justice’s Legistics provides clear explanations of the use of common terms and drafting techniques.

“Legistics est un recueil d’articles portant exclusivement sur les questions de rédaction en anglais des textes législatifs. La nature même de l’ouvrage fait en sorte qu’il n’est offert qu’en anglais.”
Access Legistics

Upcoming Learning Opportunities, Consultations, and Events

Online Regulatory Consultation System (ORCS) Information and Demonstration Session
Community of Federal Regulators with the Canada Gazette
Online Video | 40 minutes  | Demonstration

Chapter 28 of the Canada-United States – Mexico (CUSMA) agreement, the Good Regulatory Practices chapter commits Canada to improving online consultations on proposed regulations by requiring a system for allowing comments on specific regulatory elements and publishing comments online received during consultations.

“In 2021, Public Services and Procurement Canada will launch a new function on the Canada Gazette website that will support the government’s commitment to a transparent regulatory process and enhance its accountability in regards to regulatory initiatives. The Online Regulatory Consultation System (ORCS) will standardize and simplify the regulatory consultation process by providing a means for Canadians to submit comments securely online and view comments submitted by other stakeholders during consultation periods.”

In the coming months, the system will be rolled out and tested with a limited selection of regulations before being implemented for all departments and agencies. In order to comply with the our international commitment in CUSMA, this system will be mandatory for managing comments on all regulatory proposals at the pre-publication stage.

If you are interested in seeing a system already in place, the United States maintains a central system for consultations and publication of comments received on proposed regulations. 
Watch the Video

Indigenous Policy Making in Canada
Canada School of Public Service
April 8, 2021 | 2 hours | Webcast with simultaneous interpretation

“This event will look back at the history of Indigenous policy making in Canada and at the federal government’s agenda for advancing reconciliation based on a recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, and partnership.

Join us as we explore the drivers of Indigenous policy making in this new context and address the need for a holistic policy development process that is rooted in nation-to-nation, Inuit–Crown, and government-to-government relationships.”
Read more about this event

Policy Considerations Shaping Digital Transformation
Canada School of Public Service
April 12, 2021 | 2 hours | Webcast with simultaneous interpretation

“There is a high degree of consensus that digital transformation is key to meeting the rising expectations of citizens and clients. Success, however, will require significant structural and cultural reforms within the public service.

Policy changes will also be needed. This includes exploring questions around data management and privacy, trust, ethics, security, misinformation, diversity and inclusion, as well as imbalance of power. Understanding the policy issues and the need for solid digital policies is essential in creating a robust and sustainable digital future, where all citizens thrive.”
Read more about this event

This is a pilot project to see if there is interest for a monthly newsletter of developments and resources related to policy analysis and regulations.  Please send me your comments and suggestions as I’d like to make this newsletter as helpful as possible.

Regulatory Affairs is prepared and distributed by Gordon D. Bonnar and all views expressed herein are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Canada.

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Regulatory Affairs – March 2021

Logo with scales surrounded by a circle with the words Regulatory Affairs underneath

March 2021


When I joined Regulatory Affairs at the Canada Revenue Agency, one of the first e-mails I got forwarded was a copy of Jason R. Ward’s excellent newsletter “The Tax Legist-Jason Standard.”  Now that I’m settled in, I thought I would attempt to follow in his footsteps and create a monthly newsletter on affairs of a regulatory nature including various articles, reports, upcoming learning opportunities, and other developments in the regulatory world.  I hope you find it informative and I look forward to any comments, questions, or suggestions you may have.


Gordon D. Bonnar

What to Read: Books, Articles, Reports, and Blogs

Book cover for "Simpler: The Future of Government by Cass R. Sunstein"

Simpler: The Future of Government

Cass Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University and Former Administrator, White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

I would highly recommend this book for people wishing to improve their understanding of behavioural economics and/or the regulatory regime of the United States.  The book provides a great overview of the regulatory system, the changes implemented by Dr. Sunstein, and the general principles of behavioural economics in good regulatory design. Nudge, written with Dr. Richard Thaler and Dr. Sunstein, covers the behavioural economics aspects of Simpler in more detail.

Regulatory Quality and COVID-19: Managing the Risks and Supporting the Recovery
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

“During a crisis, when time is of the essence, it becomes hard to anticipate, analyse and thoroughly discuss the impacts of regulations designed to deal with urgent issues. This, however, need not mean that these ’emergency’ regulations adopted in haste receive ‘carte blanche’ treatment. Well-designed regulatory systems can comply with tried and tested recommendations on regulatory policy and governance, even in a crisis. “

Read the full report (GC Intranet)


Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) and the Federal Response to COVID-19
Women and Gender Equality

Purpose: “To ensure that we continue to make progress delivering on the Government of Canada’s commitments to advance gender equality and inclusion and to apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) to decision-making.

To create policy responses that are reflective of diverse needs particularly of those of the most vulnerable in a time of crisis and ensure that gains made in gender equality are not compromised.”

Access the full presentation (GC Intranet)

Regulations and How to Measure Their Performance
Community of Federal Regulators Video Library

“Regulations are key instruments that government uses to reduce or prevent societal, economic and environmental harm while promoting competitiveness and innovation. How do we measure their effectiveness in reaching the desired result?

Participants had an opportunity to hear about:

  • the principles and foundation of regulatory measurement;
  • existing performance measurement frameworks; and
  • an example of regulatory performance measurement.


  • Steve Montague, Adjunct Professor, School of Public Policy and Administration, Carleton University, and Partner, Performance Management Network Inc.
  • Shannon Townsend, Senior Evaluation Manager, Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Scott Postma, Senior Regulatory Policy and Risk Management Advisor, Health Canada “

Access the video and presentation resources (GC Intranet)

Canada’s Regulatory Cooperation Activities
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

The Cabinet Directive on Regulation mandates regulators to identify area for regulatory alignment or cooperation during regulatory development. Regulatory cooperation applies to a range of regulatory activities, including: policy development; inspections; certification; adoption and development of standards; and product and testing approvals.

This resource provides a public list of Canada’s major regulatory cooperation activities.
Access the list

Upcoming Learning Opportunities and Events

Virtual Café Series: Artificial Intelligence
Canada School of Public Service
March 2, 2021 | 1 hour | Webcast

“This next event in the series features Gillian Hadfield, Director of the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society at the University of Toronto, Karen Hao, Senior AI Reporter at MIT Technology Review, and Shingai Manjengwa, Director of Technical Education at the Vector Institute for AI and Founder of Fireside Analytics. The discussion will explore how AI is impacting our world, the implications of human bias in AI design, and key public policy considerations for effective governance.”

This is a pilot project to see if there is interest for a monthly newsletter of developments and resources related to policy analysis and regulations.  Please send me your comments and suggestions as I’d like to make this newsletter as helpful as possible.

Regulatory Affairs is prepared and distributed by Gordon D. Bonnar and all views expressed herein are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of Canada.

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