Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements


Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada's (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada's (ISC) Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements addresses the commitment to make regulatory information accessible as outlined in the Government of Canada's Policy on Regulatory Transparency and Accountability.

A new Cabinet Directive on Regulation (CDR) and related policies were introduced by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) on September 1, 2018. The Policy on Regulatory Transparency and Accountability replaced the Guide for Developing and Implementing Interpretation Policies.

The CDR states that departments are "responsible for developing and publishing guidelines for the public to help clarify regulatory requirements for stakeholders and improve information-sharing between the regulator and regulated stakeholders," and to "provide clear and up-to-date guidance on compliance with regulations."

Table of contents

Departmental context

In 1985, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act established the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, presided over by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. On August 28, 2017, the Prime Minster announced the creation of two new departments: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).

ISC works collaboratively with partners to improve access to high quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Its vision is to support and empower Indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address the socio-economic conditions in their communities. CIRNAC continues to renew the nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationship between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis; modernize Government of Canada structures to enable Indigenous peoples to build capacity and support their vision of self-determination; and lead the Government of Canada's work in the North.

Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut:

Through its mandate to lead the Government of Canada's work in the North, CIRNAC is the lead federal department for two-fifths of Canada's land mass. It has a direct role in the political and economic development of the three territories and significant responsibilities for resource, land and environmental management. The territorial governments provide the majority of social programs and services to residents, including Indigenous people, and in some cases Indigenous governments have assumed program responsibilities through self-government agreements.

The Northern regional offices support the development and implementation of regulations for resource management and environmental assessment. In Yukon and the Northwest Territories, many of those responsibilities have been transferred to the territorial governments as a result of devolution. In Nunavut, the regional office continues to provide oversight and delivery of the resource management regime for Crown land related to land, water and minerals as well as environmental assessment and land use planning functions.

South of 60:

Regional offices south of 60 work closely with stakeholders in the funding and delivery of programs – education, governance, social assistance, child and family services and housing, amongst others, and in the management of lands and resources on reserve. They also play a front-line role in interacting with stakeholders on regulatory requirements (e.g., permits, leases, estates), communicating either by phone, email, mail or in person. They also offer guidance by producing generic on-line documentation (e.g., information on land management requirements and reporting obligations), by attending various public events such as conferences and symposia and by establishing ongoing working relationships with stakeholders.

In addition to regional offices, Indian Oil and Gas Canada is a special operating agency that manages and regulates oil and gas resources on First Nation lands.

Commitment to serving Canadians and businesses

ISC and CIRNAC are committed to ensuring stakeholders, whether located in the North or south of 60, and businesses established on reserve or in the North, understand what they need to do to comply with federal regulatory requirements.

This Policy on Providing Guidance on Regulatory Requirements has been developed to provide information on how regulatory compliance guidance is communicated verbally or in writing to stakeholders.

Building awareness of regulatory requirements

CIRNAC and ISC communicate regularly with stakeholders through a variety of means to build public awareness of regulatory requirements and to provide consistent and predictable regulatory interpretation and guidance by:

Plain Language Commitment

ISC and CIRNAC will provide consistent and predictable regulatory interpretation and guidance to stakeholders by using plain language, where possible, to communicate the intent of regulatory requirements in line with the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada.

Adjustments or improvements to interpretation and guidance will occur periodically to reflect regulatory changes or feedback from affected stakeholders.

Responding to enquiries

Consistent with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector, CIRNAC and ISC will offer fair, timely, efficient and effective services that respect Canada's official languages. They will respond to enquiries by stakeholders in a clear, consistent, and professional manner, generally in the form that enquiries are made, whether orally or in writing, or as appropriate.

Responses in writing are given when requested by the stakeholder, a stakeholder enquiry is received in writing and/or when it would be preferable for the Departments to maintain a record of the interaction.

General enquiries should be directed to:

Public Enquiries Contact Centre
10 rue Wellington
Gatineau QC  K1A 0H4
Email: aadnc.infopubs.aandc@canada.ca
Phone (toll-free): 1-800-567-9604
Fax: 1-866-817-3977
TTY (toll-free): 1-866-553-0554

The Public Enquiries Contact Centre provides information and free publications related to programs and services and it processes requests for statistical information. Its service standard is to provide the information requested within three business days or, if the request is complicated, to advise within three days that the request will require more time and, if so, provide an estimated response time.

The Departments are committed to acknowledging and responding to enquiries in a timely manner, in the official language chosen by stakeholders. Common/frequent enquiries may be responded to through Frequently Asked Questions. CIRNAC and ISC are currently in the process of updating their websites, including providing FAQs on common/frequent enquiries and more technical questions. The FAQs will then be updated as enquiries direct.

The Departments will communicate directly with stakeholders should there be any need to clarify an enquiry, so as to fully and accurately understand and answer questions.

Responses to enquiries are not binding on the Departments unless a Department communicates otherwise to the stakeholder. The Departments do not provide legal advice about how specific regulations may apply to particular circumstances.

It should be noted that the Departments engage with stakeholders on a regular basis to develop and implement regulations. Various departmental offices are in regular discussion with stakeholders to answer questions and to provide guidance whether in person, over the phone, by email or written correspondence. The Departments are committed to acknowledging receipt of questions and to providing regulatory guidance in a timely manner in the official language chosen by stakeholders. The Departments will address complaints regarding timeliness of responses should they arise.

Disclaimer: The responses are intended for general guidance with respect to the regulations but are not legal advice or advice in respect of the specific situation of the stakeholder or organization. The Departments recommend that stakeholders or organizations seek appropriate legal and expert advice concerning their specific situation.

Commitment to professional service

ISC and CIRNAC are committed to excellence in service when dealing with all stakeholders including Indigenous peoples and Canadians in general, and to businesses in Canada's North and on First Nation reserves by providing professional, courteous and respectful service. These efforts will be guided by the Service Standards for High Volume Regulatory Authorizations and other program-specific service standards such as:

There are four modes of providing service:

  1. through Regional Offices;
  2. through Indian Oil and Gas Canada, when responding to Indian Oil and Gas Regulation inquiries;
  3. in-writing, using email, correspondence, and online feedback forums; and
  4. through attendance and participation in conferences and various public forums.

Staff Training

Learning opportunities are provided to departmental employees regarding service-related knowledge and client-service excellence. Standard operating procedures are maintained to ensure that staff is trained to attain excellence in service when working with stakeholders. Sectors revisit their service procedures on a regular basis, and identify opportunities for improvement.

Learning opportunities are provided to employees on regulatory and policy interpretation and guidance to ensure professional and consistent delivery of programs to Canadians and businesses. The Community of Federal Regulators is one source of training for federal public servants involved in regulatory development and guidance. In addition, the Canada School of Public Service offers a wide variety of courses including but not limited to regulatory development, policy implementation, and stakeholder engagement.

Stakeholder engagement

The Government of Canada is committed to a collaborative approach with Indigenous partners to develop, design and deliver programs. This is consistent with the Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples, which states that "the Government recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to participate in decision-making in matters that affect their rights through their own representative institutions and the need to consult and cooperate in good faith with the aim of securing their free, prior, and informed consent."

With respect to upcoming regulations and the development of policies, CIRNAC and ISC are committed to routinely engaging relevant stakeholders through a variety of means, including:


Stakeholder engagement will take place as part of ongoing discussions on forthcoming regulatory activities, to identify areas of improvement in the provision of regulatory guidance. Feedback from stakeholders will be used to plan and prepare materials and activities to promote regulatory compliance, where appropriate. Enquiries and comments received from stakeholders will be analyzed to better adapt materials to their needs.

Stakeholder concerns

In the event that Indigenous peoples, other Canadians or businesses encounter problems (such as poor service or inconsistent guidance), there are opportunities for stakeholders to register complaints so that specific or recurring issues can be addressed. Stakeholders should first contact ISC or CIRNAC to see if a fair and appropriate solution can be found. Disputes that cannot be resolved in this manner will be addressed through judicial or administrative mechanisms described in the statute that gives the legislative authority for the given regulation, where they exist. CIRNAC and ISC will respond to issues or complaints raised with respect to regulatory interpretation or guidance, or answer questions, in a timely manner.

Date of last revision

This policy was last updated on March 31, 2019.

Find out more

Consult Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Indian Oil and Gas Canada's Laws and Regulations web page for:

Consult the following for links to the Cabinet Directive on Regulation and supporting policies and guidance, and for information on government-wide regulatory initiative implemented by departments and agencies across the Government of Canada:

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit:

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