Interpretation Policy

1.0 Interpretation Policy

An interpretation policy is an overarching document that outlines the commitments, practices, and tools to be applied by a department or agency when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations to be met. It also identifies the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.

2.0 Agency Context

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) provides integrated border services that support national security priorities and facilitate the flow of people and goods across the border.

The CBSA is an integral part of the Public Safety Portfolio, which is responsible for integrated national security, emergency management, law enforcement, corrections, crime prevention and border management operations. Specific responsibilities of the CBSA include the following:

3.0 Predictability

3.1 Plain Language Commitment

The CBSA is committed to use plain and clear language in developing policies, guidance and providing interpretation of the regulations for which it is responsible, to avoid ambiguities as well as facilitate greater understanding of the Agency regulations and compliance requirements, with the exception of technical terminology.

3.2 Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

To provide guidance and build awareness, the CBSA reaches out to Canadians and businesses, through a variety of ways, as part of its mechanisms for consistent internal and external communication of compliance requirements. Such activities include:

More information on these mechanisms can be found on our website.

3.3 Responding to Questions

If the questions are not answered with the most frequently asked questions, the CBSA responds to questions in the following way:

Written responses to questions will be provided to stakeholders upon request. 

4.0 Service

4.1 Service Commitment

As demonstrated in the Agency's Charter, the CBSA is committed to service excellence by delivering reliable and professional service to businesses, stakeholders and Canadians.

The CBSA is developing, implementing and meeting improved service standards that focus on client service and timelines based on client input and feedback, and ensuring that service standards are effectively communicated and adhered to.

Information on processing times is available to help you estimate how long it will take the CBSA to respond to your request.

4.2 Service Accountability

The CBSA is committed to service excellence and encourages feedback to better understand its clients, their needs, and therefore improve the delivery of its programs and services. The CBSA is equipped with various tools and options to receive feedback and address challenges. 

A Compliments, Comments and Complaints section has been created and posted on the website for clients to submit their feedback. Compliments and comments are forwarded to the appropriate offices or programs for action or consideration. Complaints are tracked and monitored, and clients are contacted promptly and provided with a written response to their complaints as per the established Service Standards. 

An Appeals/Reviews page has also been created and posted on the website. Clients can request a fair and impartial review of a decision or action taken in support of border services legislation. 

Through feedback and appeals review, the CBSA is able to identify systemic issues, monitor and report on performance indicators and ensure continuous improvements of the quality of its services.

4.3 Staff Training

Efforts to provide targeted staff training are taken by the CBSA to ensure that the officials have the necessary technical knowledge as well as knowledge of best practices in client service and provision of interpretation. Various training and information sessions, web-based learning products, reference materials, training standards and plans have been developed for this purpose.

5.0 Stakeholder Engagement

5.1 Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

The CBSA is committed to involving Canadians, program stakeholders and their intermediary organizations in the development, design and evaluation of policies, programs and services that affect them.

The CBSA will continue to establish mechanisms to improve stakeholder engagement. These mechanisms will be utilized to engage stakeholders, as needed, when developing, reviewing or refining practices and materials for providing information and guidance on regulatory compliance and answering questions.

5.2 Stakeholder Engagement Mechanisms

A Stakeholder Engagement Framework and Strategies have been developed to engage stakeholders, to identify concerns, develop consensus, minimize implementation burden, test and improve solutions, and facilitate stakeholder understanding and awareness of regulatory changes.

Consultations, meetings and discussions with interested parties, information sessions, and interactive internet features are used to engage stakeholders, either in person, by telephone, by email, by fax, or through online mechanisms.   

Specifically, the CBSA consults with senior representatives of the Border Commercial Consultative Committee (BCCC) and the Air Consultative Committee (ACC) at least twice a year on issues, policies or initiatives that impact the free flow of goods or people. Each committee is represented by senior-level private industry stakeholders, such as commercial importer/exporters or airport authorities, as well as other government departments and agencies. The committees are supported by sub-committees or working groups that provide forums for discussing more technical matters with stakeholders.

6.0 Improvement

In March 2015 and as part of its efforts towards continuous improvement, the CBSA completed consultation with external stakeholders to identify potential areas requiring clarification.  Stakeholders were forthcoming with their observations and provided valuable insight, comments and recommendations.  As a result, the CBSA is currently prioritizing each observation and establishing appropriate action plans to address them accordingly. The areas of improvement and metrics will be posted on the CBSA website, as soon as they are made available, with the intent of implementing improvements and providing updates on performance by March 31, 2017.



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