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Tag: Regulatory Reform

Information Quicksand

Government is a never-ending exercise in generating work product, the vast majority of which will languish in archives for years before being destroyed. For some information, the lifecycle is even shorter, with many products disappearing within the year.

The Government of Canada’s Cabinet Directive on Regulation outlines a series of mandatory public postings about upcoming regulatory initiatives in the form of a Forward Regulatory Plan (FRP). The Policy on Transparency and Accountability requires that FRP postings be updated annually on April 1. Updates may also occur during the year. Departments and Agencies are not required to keep historical copies of previous FRPS.

As a result, there is very little historical data to allow researchers, or the general public, to compare FRPs against regulatory workloads. I have been interested in how we could keep this information and use it to inform the regulatory process (particularly ex-post facto review.

While working on the FRPs for the Canada Border Service Agency, I started developing a very simple webscraping tool to grab the relevant FRP information and store it locally. This allowed me to take snapshots of the ever-evolving document.

Since moving to Regulatory Affairs at the Canada Revenue Agency, I felt that something like this tool would be useful on a whole-of-government level. I have started tinkering to expand the use cases. You can see what I’ve done over on Github. At this point, I’m storing the local snapshots on a webserver. Once, I have a more robust, government-wide data collection effort in place, I will share the url more broadly.

Let me know if this is something you find interesting or would like to help with. I’m trying to develop more projects that allow me to explore areas of interest, but also let me use my interest in technology.

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OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018

The OECD released the OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018 in October of this year, and I thought it would be an interested exercise to go through the major points and provide my views as well as my take on Canada’s place among our OECD peers. Over a series of posts, I will discuss the observations within the report in the context of Canada’s regulatory regime.

Quality of Regulatory Development

Legislation, including subordinate legislation like regulations, need to be supported by sound evidence, developed within a framework of broad consultations, and, most importantly be accomplish policy objectives effectively.

As regulators, we are constantly up against the perception that all regulation stifles economic activity and should be minimized, if not eliminated.

The OECD report defines regulatory quality as having regulations and regulatory processes “in line with the principles of consultation, transparency, accountability, and evidence … [and] whether regulations are effective.” They provide nine practical indicators of regulatory quality:

With the release of the Cabinet Directive on Regulation (CDR), which came into effect September 1, 2018 in Canada and the associated guidance, contain a significant number of improvements designed at increasing the quality of regulatory proposals.

Examples of improvements which should increase the quality of regulations:

  • Renewed focus on consultations throughout the regulatory lifecycle.
  • Explicit focus on regulatory agencies assessing opportunities for alignment with other jurisdictions, both at home and abroad.
  • More detailed Forward Regulatory Plans to provide early opportunities for identifying and engaging stakeholders as well as providing details on consultation opportunities, identifying business impacts, and publishing ex-post facto review schedules.
  • The Triage Statement and Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS), now includes significant emphasis on early and comprehensive analysis of the proposed regulations. The following analyses are now mandatory with the level of scrutiny determined by the potential impact of the regulations:
    • Strategic Environmental Assessment
    • Gender-Based Analysis+
    • Modern Treaty Obligations
    • Cost-Benefit Analysis
    • One-for-One rule
  • Finally, the CDR lays out a robust set of requirements for a review of existing regulatory stock as well as requirements for planning regular ex post facto regulatory reviews of regulatory proposals.

As a result of these changes, the OECD now ranks Canada’s regulatory regime’s stakeholder engagement, regulatory impact assessment, and ex post facto evaluation of regulations higher than 2015 and higher than the systems in place for primary legislation.

My only thoughts relate to the need to ensure a balance between significant analysis at the Triage and RIAS stages and the burgeoning time horizon to implement Governor-in-Council regulations. We need to ensure that impacts are understood while still ensuring that subordinate legislation such as regulations can occur within a timeframe to allow the government to keep up with the accelerating growht of progress.

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