THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON BANKING, TRADE AND COMMERCE

EVIDENCE


OTTAWA, Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce met with videoconference this day at 6:29 p.m. [ET] to study the subject matter of those elements contained in Part 1 of Bill S-6, An Act respecting regulatory modernization.

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Good evening to everyone in the room. Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. My name is Pamela Wallin. I’m a senator from Saskatchewan and I’m chair of this committee.

This is not our regular session. We are not looking at our ongoing studies. Rather we have switched our focus for today and the next few days to legislation Bill S-6, and this is an examination of proposed changes to regulations across many sectors.

I will remind senators and witnesses to keep their microphones muted at all times unless recognized by the chair, and I would also like to ask senators and witnesses to keep their statements or interventions brief as we have a lot of ground to cover this evening.

Let me begin by introducing the members of the committee that are with us tonight and about to participate. We have Senator Deacon, Nova Scotia, the deputy chair; Senator Bellemare; Senator Gignac; Senator Loffreda; Senator Marshall; Senator Massicotte; Senator Ringuette; Senator Smith; and Senator Woo. It is great to have you all here in person and in the room as we begin this.

So today we start our examination of the elements contained in Part 1 of Bill S-6, An Act respecting regulatory modernization that was referred to this committee on April 28, 2022.

For our first panel, I’m very pleased to welcome, from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Jennifer Miller, the Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch; and also with us, David Spicer, Vice President, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Measurement Canada; from Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, James van Raalte, Executive Director, Regulatory Policy and Cooperation Directorate.

Thank you all for joining us this evening; we truly appreciate it. I understand that Ms. Miller and Mr. van Raalte will provide brief opening remarks. Go ahead, Ms. Miller, if you will, with your opening remarks.

[Translation]

Jennifer Miller, Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Thank you very much. Good morning, my name is Jennifer Miller and I am the director general responsible for market framework policies at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, or ISED. I am joined by my colleague, David Spicer, vice-president responsible for legislative policy and regulatory affairs at Measurement Canada.

I am pleased to present to you today some of the amendments to the legislation under the responsibility of ISED as part of the Annual Regulatory Modernization Bill. I will begin with a very brief overview of these measures, after which we will be happy to answer your questions.

[English]

I will begin with two amendments related to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The first relates to notices that licensed insolvency trustees are currently required to publish in the local newspaper for some types of bankruptcies. With the rise of digital and social media, local newspapers may not always be the best way to keep creditors or other interested parties informed of the bankruptcy. This amendment would allow the Superintendent of Bankruptcy to issue directives as to how this notice should be published. This will both reduce costs, which are ultimately borne by creditors, and improve the effectiveness of the insolvency system.

[Translation]

The second change relates to the mediation process in place to resolve disputes between a bankrupt individual and their trustee. At present, there is no mechanism for withdrawing a request for mediation, even if both parties have reached an agreement. This means that they have to proceed with a mediation that turns out to be unnecessary. This increases costs and delays the conclusion of the bankruptcy process.

[English]

I will now turn to amendments that will change the term “annual return” to “annual update statement” in Canada’s corporate governance laws. Annual returns are documents that must be filed with Corporations Canada every year. They are, however, sometimes confused with the annual tax return required by the Canada Revenue Agency. By changing the name, there will be less confusion in the public about these filings, reducing risks of non-compliance.

A Trademarks Act proposal seeks to accelerate the entering into force of 2018 amendments aimed at increasing effectiveness and efficiency of the Trademarks Act. Presently all of these amendments are tied to a single coming-into-force provision, even though only some require regulations. This is notably delaying the entry into force of a requirement for registrants to establish the use of their trademark in Canada in order to be able to be entitled to a remedy for infringement in the first three years of their registration.

This bill would also amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act to permit more types of sampling methods to be used in the verification processes for meters that measure electricity or gases such as propane or natural gas. This would help Measurement Canada use its resources more efficiently and take more risk-based and flexible approaches for verifying meters.

Finally, the Weights and Measures Act is being amended to permit traders to apply to have a new technology enter the marketplace on a temporary basis without an approval or initial inspection from Measurement Canada, to repeal a requirement for dealers and traders to notify Measurement Canada when they import a measuring device for use in their business, and to repeal an unused regulation making authority related to providing contact information on vending machines that dispense liquids.

[Translation]

Overall, the objective of these changes is to ensure the efficient administration of Canada’s marketplace framework laws for the benefit of businesses, not-for-profit organizations and all Canadians.

[English]

My colleague David Spicer and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Miller, and for those of you watching, I know this appears a bit confusing. We are dealing with a lot of regulatory and rule changes on a wide swath of legislation here, so this is why you’re hearing witnesses talk about a variety of different things, and we hope there will be some clarity coming a little later.

Mr. van Raalte, do you want to go ahead at this point?

James van Raalte, Executive Director, Regulatory Policy and Cooperation Directorate, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat: Thank you, Madam Chair, and I hope to provide a little bit of scene setting for the committee in terms of the context in which my colleagues, Ms. Miller and Mr. Spicer, provide. More broadly Bill S-6, An Act respecting regulatory modernization, proposes to amend 29 pieces of legislation via 46 amendments. These amendments are intended to help keep our regulatory frameworks relevant and up to date by reducing administrative burden for business, facilitating digital interactions with government, simplifying regulatory processes, making exemptions from certain regulatory requirements to test new products, and making cross-border trade easier through more consistent and coherent rules across government.

Bill S-6 is the government’s second Annual Regulatory Modernization Bill, or as Ms. Miller referenced, our ARMB. The first was part of the Budget Implementation Act, 2019. Announced in the Fall Economic Statement 2018, the ARMB instrument is meant to be a recurring legislative mechanism that enables the government to make common sense changes across many pieces of legislation at once to address overly complicated, inconsistent or outdated requirements raised by business and Canadians.

The ARMB is one part of the government’s agenda to improve Canada’s regulatory system while continuing to ensure health, safety and security of Canadians and protection of the environment.

As such, taken individually, these amendments in Bill S-6 are modest in scope. Taken as whole, they will make an impact and contribute to the government’s regulatory modernization agenda. Grouping relatively minor legislative changes in one bill is both time- and cost-efficient. The ARMB is designed specifically to propose multiple non-contentious legislative changes all at once, these fixes that the President of the Treasury Board can represent or sponsor on behalf of her colleague. Anything above and beyond this threshold may be a good proposal for regulatory modernization, which should be brought forward by the individual minister responsible for parliamentary and public scrutiny.

These fixes may be required for any number of reasons. For example, the original legislation reflects the context or the history of the day in which it was enacted; or given the evolution of drafting conventions, authorities are clearer in newer regulations than they are in the existing older legislation; or perhaps once an authority is implemented on the ground, it is determined that it isn’t what we really needed and we need to go back and modernize the legislation.

All of the 46 proposed amendments are either stakeholder-driven — there’s 33 of those — or in response to issues raised by Parliament’s Standing Joint Committee on the Scrutiny of Regulations — another 13.

TBS launched a public consultation via the Canada Gazette over the summer of 2019 inviting interested stakeholders to share their views on themes related to regulatory modernization, including to propose suggestions for the next ARMB.

Of the nearly 200 submissions we received, 48 stakeholders referred to the ARMB, however, most of these responses were not within scope as they proposed changes to specific regulations rather than legislation. However, all feedback that TBS received was shared with responsible regulatory departments and agencies for them to respond to stakeholders.

Following this consultation, we published a What We Heard: Report on Regulatory Modernization in November 2020. I will note for the committee that the following four themes emerged for changes to legislation: One, reduce the administrative burden; two, increase regulatory flexibility and opportunities for experimentation; three, enable harmonization with major trading partners; and four, remove duplicative, redundant, and unclear requirements.

Similarly, a call out to our partners in regulatory departments and agencies was initiated in August 2019, the result was 174 proposals submitted impacting 72 acts over 14 organizations. All proposals were reviewed extensively to ensure there was no negative impact on the health, safety and security of Canadians and the protection of the environment.

Beyond what may be contained in Bill S-6, additional proposals were set aside for further consideration for a variety of reasons. Some were considered too broad in scope, beyond the threshold of the President of the Treasury Board to carry, or were deemed not regulatory in nature. Others were set aside, for example, if they sought to alter service fees or proposed additional activities that actually contributed to increasing the administrative burden.

I’ll conclude by letting the committee know that the process to develop the third bill, or the third version of the ARMB is already underway based upon lessons learned coming out of the COVID pandemic. The President of the Treasury Board has committed to introducing this third ARMB in spring of 2023.

Beyond that, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat will use its newly launched Let’s Talk Federal Regulations platform to seek input from Canadian individuals and businesses in ways we can improve Canada’s regulatory system. Therefore, consultations on the fourth ARMB are expected to be launched in fall of 2022.

Thank you, and I would be pleased, with my colleagues, to answer any questions related to the broad context of the bill or on regulatory modernization.

The Chair: Thank you for that overview.

Before we begin our questioning, the only way the stakeholder community was made aware of this was through a posting through Canada Gazette. Was that the only way they could find out this was underway?

Mr. van Raalte: No, Madam Chair. In fact, regulatory departments themselves, through the call out for proposals, and there were also opportunities for individual departments to bring forward their stakeholder perspectives within their submissions.

The Chair: So departments speaking on behalf of the stakeholders?

Mr. van Raalte: Correct.

The Chair: We’ll probably dive into that.

Senator C. Deacon: Thank you very much, Mr. Spicer, and Ms. Miller. Nice to see you again, Ms. Miller and thank you, Mr. van Raalte. That’s exactly where I wanted to go.

There’s an old saying that today’s problems were yesterday’s solutions, and that’s my worry in the process. That’s where I really want to get confidence in the process that we’re following here to actually put in place sustainable amendments and sustainable changes that are not just solving the urgent or the real issue today, but actually preventing future problems in future.

Part of that is making sure we’re engaging with the right folks and hearing the diversity of opinions. Part of that is making sure we’re really clearly identifying the problem to be solved in a way that captures the breadth of issues, and then getting a solution that addresses that. Could you please expand for me on the process, because I’m not convinced that Canada Gazette is the most effective communication tool for getting people to engage. We have the ability to do so much more as was well identified by Ms. Miller in the fact that bankruptcy notifications now aren’t, perhaps, best suited just in community papers.

I think it’s best if we could start with Mr. van Raalte to make sure that we’re not actually creating the next problem through the solution we put in place today.

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you for the question, Madam Chair, and it’s certainly well appreciated. Certainly, we all recognize that the Canada Gazette is not the most revolutionary IT platform available. I’ll speak to some changes that are coming that way.

But the vast majority of our stakeholders are quite familiar with the Canada Gazette process. That is the number one tool for seeking stakeholder feedback and input on regulatory changes. There’s actually an expectation, when we talk to stakeholders, about will that be posted on the Canada Gazette so we can comment on that or provide our input. In terms of managing expectations, that is where they want to go.

On a broader perspective, on a regular engagement perspective, departments and agencies have those ongoing relationships with their industry stakeholders, business stakeholders, the public, consumer stakeholders. There are regular engagement conversations that go on, whether they are directly related to a regulatory package, or whether it’s in a broader consultative effort on initiatives being brought forward and departments take note of recommendations, changes and improvements that may be solicited by those stakeholders, and they use those to inform their policy development process.

We used both streams to inform the development of Bill S-6. We, on behalf of the broad community of regulators, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, launched the Canada Gazette process. It wasn’t just about this legislation. That consultation over the summer of 2019 asked questions about regulatory cooperation, i.e. how can we work better with other governments in terms of aligning regulations or better information sharing to reduce the burden on industry and in common areas?

It asks questions about our regulatory reviews. Are there problems with the stock of regulation, existing regulations, from a thematic perspective? What are the themes that the government should be working on? That consultation that summer informed our second round of regulatory reviews, which were done over 2019 and 2020. I’m happy to share links to the road maps that came out of those.

And as well, on legislative initiatives, and as I said, about a quarter of the responses referred directly to legislation. Sorry, Madam Chair. I’ve gone over.

The Chair: Thank you.

Senator C. Deacon: One of my concerns about dealing with just the industry stakeholders who are already familiar to the department, and those who read the Canada Gazette, is that a lot of new entrants into a sector are not as engaged in the formal processes as the traditional incumbents are. Perhaps you aren’t hearing the voices that would help you to find ways in which a certain piece of legislation may be anti-competitive or not pro-competitive, or perhaps how there is not a technology-agnostic element that is being incorporated into the changes that you’re considering. How are you addressing those concerns, just to help me if you could a little bit on that? Thank you.

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you, Madam Chair. That’s a very topical question for me and my team. As I referred to in the closing of my remarks, we are trying to move away from the Canada Gazette, with a recognition that we do need to broaden the voices of representation that are providing feedback on government initiatives. As I say, we have launched a more forward-looking IT platform called Let’s Talk Federal Regulations. The first topic we’re engaging a broader community on is around that issue of regulatory cooperation that I identified in my last response.

At the same time, we’re also making improvements to the front end of the Canada Gazette with what we call the online regulatory consultation system. That will provide both greater transparency in terms of what is being submitted to the Gazette so that everybody is aware of what everybody else is providing and can provide further comment on that, as well as an opportunity, again, to reach a broader audience through that more modern electronic platform.

But I don’t disagree with the intent of the question, Madam Chair. I do think we can all do better to reach a broader range of stakeholders.

The Chair: That’s what we’re aiming for, because in our assessment here, not being subject-matter experts on the details of this, we are very much looking at the process. We meet a lot of startups and individuals that might be going through bankruptcies and wouldn’t know about any of that.

Senator Marshall: My question is on the section where the Budget Implementation Act of 2018 is being amended. Why are they using the Budget Implementation Act that is four years old? Why wouldn’t the amendments be made directly to the Trademarks Act, I think it is? It just seems unusual.

Ms. Miller: Thank you very much for the question.

In terms of the legislative vehicle, the Budget Implementation Act was used at the time, in 2018, in order to make those amendments. We are not using the Budget Implementation Act this time around; we are proposing to use the ARMB in order to unbundle some of the amendments that were contained in that previous legislation. It is basically allowing one of them to come into force because it is an administrative change that doesn’t require the type of stakeholder consultation that senators have been discussing here tonight.

The other two provisions that were included in that act at that time will require stakeholder consultation to develop appropriate regulations, and we’ll be going through the full consultative process. So they still need to wait. They still need to have that consultation process and regulatory development take place, but we would just unbundle from that previous act.

Senator Marshall: Okay. So they’re not all going to go through.

My second question is also related to that section, because it defines the section D and lays it out. Then, in the next section, it says that we’re going to replace that with a revised version of it. So why is it done like that?

Ms. Miller: Typically, sometimes you can amend a clause and sometimes you need to actually replace a clause entirely. So it’s a technicality on the drafting instructions in order to make sure the clause we would need to come into force immediately is able to do so, if Royal Assent is granted to the ARMB, and then it’s so the remainder of the bill remains as it was intended in 2018 to permit that full-stakeholder consultation.

Senator Marshall: So it’s really a part of the legislative drafting process; is that right? It just seems like you’re creating a section, and then in the next line, you’re saying, “I’m going to amend that section now.”

Ms. Miller: That is correct. It is a technicality of the drafting process, but the intent is simply to have one come into force, should this bill receive Royal Assent, and then to have the others undergo the full regulatory process.

Senator Marshall: It’s always the replacement section that will go through. Okay, thank you very much.

The Chair: This is why we call it red tape.

Senator Bellemare: My question is of a general order. I want to know if there are, in the bill, some ways to take care of unexpected consequences of regulatory changes. Is there anything planned in the bill so that if there are unintended consequences, there is a protection to those who bear the consequences of them?

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you for the question.

I may need to seek clarification, but in general, the bill is intended to be forward-looking or at least remove legislative irritants that prevented future regulations from being forward-looking and so avoid unintended consequences.

I can’t guarantee you that we won’t run into them; we don’t know what we don’t know. But the concept is what we call future-proofing. To go back to the first senator about solving tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s solutions, future-proofing is about building regulations that not only solve yesterday’s problems but properly anticipate future problems. That’s so we don’t design regulations that box us in.

That does happen from time to time. There’s no magic wand for that, but the intention of the bill, in general, is to remove those legislative barriers for better regulations of the future and to, as much as possible, avoid those unintended consequences.

I hope I’ve been able to satisfy the senator’s question.

Senator Bellemare: I would like to have an example.

The Chair: What we’re trying to get at here — because the process, as Senator Marshall has just pointed out, is quite complicated. “Here is a piece of legislation, but read the next paragraph, because we’ve already figured out that we have to change it.”

To Senator Bellemare’s point, there are always unintended consequences of something. Is there a more efficient way to deal with this, other than a four-year process?

Mr. van Raalte: A four-year process of —

The Chair: You’re now talking about the changes you’re going to be considering in 2024 or 2023, and somebody may have discovered this two years ago and brought it to your attention, but it didn’t make the cut for this year’s regulatory change.

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you.

More broadly, the way I would describe this piece of legislation is that it’s good hygiene. It’s the dental floss or the visit to the dentist that you make every six months.

In terms of avoiding these types of problems going forward that we’re trying to fix with this bill, we work from a policy perspective, and that would be, more broadly, the responsibility of the Privy Council Office as legislative proposals are brought through respective cabinet committees in terms of, again, future-proofing that legislation to avoid future problems.

There are probably a number of those irritants that still exist in the system, and we will use the ARMB on an annual basis to go through and “floss that plaque” or that “build-up” out of the system, but at the same time, yes, attention does have to be paid to the drafting of legislation to avoid such types of problems going forward.

The Chair: It is a point that the drafting process itself is an issue, but also when we see something and then there’s such a time delay, I think we’re looking to see if there’s a less cumbersome suggestion we could make about how this process could be more streamlined.

Go ahead if you want to make a quick comment, though.

Mr. van Raalte: I want to be clear, Madam Chair, that it’s not necessarily about the drafting of the text itself. The Justice drafters are professionals who are provided guidance from the policy centres within departments and agencies. Likely the disconnect is that as we’re developing the policies, we are not anticipating — and the senator used the phrase — unintended questions. We are not doing enough foresight or enough analysis to give the proper drafting instructions to the drafters. I want to be clear on that.

The Chair: Yes. I think that’s important because that’s our bread and butter here at the Senate. We get the legislation and then we try to fix both the drafting and the potential policy or unintended consequence actions.

Senator Ringuette: I have two quick questions and I believe Mr. van Raalte can probably answer both of them.

We’re hearing a lot about reducing duplication. This Senate Banking Committee made an interesting report regarding reducing interprovincial trade barriers. In your process, are you consulting your counterparts provincially to try to reduce duplication and streamline at least the wording of the regulation?

Mr. van Raalte: I am the Government of Canada’s representative on the federal-provincial-territorial Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table, or RCT. I sit with 13 provincial and territorial representatives who are working towards that regulatory cooperation intended to bring down those trade and economic barriers within Canada from an internal trade perspective. That committee is set up under the Canada free trade agreements.

We have a work plan. I’m happy to share links for you to that work plan in terms of the issues that we’re addressing. Most of the time, issues are resolved through reconciliation agreements. That triggers a process where, depending on how different or how distinct any one jurisdiction’s rules may be from the agreement of what the new common set of regulations will be, they then have to go through either a legislative or a regulatory process to bring those into alignment. It does take a little time. Reconciliation is done from an intent of aligning regulations across the country as best as possible. It is not an examination, jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction, of the administrative burden that then may result or be solved through that process.

Senator Ringuette: If it’s not your group, is there another entity responsible for eliminating the redundancy of regulations?

Mr. van Raalte: That committee is responsible for eliminating the redundancy, but I can’t guarantee it translates that way in each jurisdiction. Let’s call it redundancy of rules. I can’t guarantee how that translates into the redundancy on the administrative burden.

Senator Ringuette: We have before us a slate of modernization of certain regulations. Do you have a slate of elimination of certain regulations that we don’t have in front of us?

Mr. van Raalte: The government and the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat are responsible for the Red Tape Reduction Act which requires, on an annual basis, that if a department introduces new administrative burden, they must remove value dollar-for-dollar administrative burden out of their regulatory system.

It also requires the elimination, one for one, of a set of redundant regulations. That rule has been in place since 2012-13, and the Government of Canada has reduced the administrative regulatory burden within the system by over $60 million.

The Chair: I’ll come back to that point later.

Senator Loffreda: Thank you to our panellists. My question is for Mr. van Raalte.

With respect to requiring mediation between the licensed insolvency trustee and the debtor during the bankruptcy process, what’s the major reasoning behind this requirement? Could you elaborate on what led to this requirement?

Also, you mentioned your stakeholders. You consulted with 48 stakeholders and most of the suggestions received were regulation driven instead of legislation. Did you ever question that you should consult with additional stakeholders? Are you satisfied that the proper stakeholders were consulted given that many did not suggest regulation but, rather, legislation?

The Chair: You may want to ask Ms. Miller about that.

Ms. Miller: With respect to the mediation, mediations are generally undertaken as part of a bankruptcy proceeding that allows for the resolution of disputes prior to a bankruptcy being concluded. The intent of the change would be to simplify the process by ensuring that mediation procedures where an agreement has been reached between trustees and debtors are not required. Currently, that mediation is required by law, regardless of whether an agreement has been reached. We would remove that requirement. It would not change the process overall, which is that you need to have a process for dispute resolution if that occurs in the context of administering a bankruptcy. However, in cases where there is a successful conclusion, we want to make sure there is not an administrative requirement in the law that continues to require a mediation step before the process can conclude. That is the objective of the change.

Senator Loffreda: Thank you.

Mr. van Raalte: In terms of broader context, that broad consultation process was more than just around potential legislative irritants, as I previously stated. We received just under 200 submissions. Many of those stakeholders chose to provide feedback on more than one topic. Of the 48 submissions that referenced our initiative around the Annual Regulatory Modernization Bill, it was not unusual that stakeholders used a consultation process like that as we defined where we were going to do some work. They provided us much broader feedback than we were originally seeking. We weren’t surprised that much of the focus was on regulation because that is generally the oversight role of the Treasury Board of Canada.

We were satisfied with the feedback that we got. We were happy to share that with departments and agencies. As I said previously, in the call out to departments and agencies that provided another 174 ideas the majority of those were stakeholder driven.

I think we’re comfortable. Can we do better? Yes. Are we working towards that? As I said, yes, with the launch of Let’s Talk Federal Regulations. The more we can get the word out about this instrument and the success of this instrument, the more I think we’ll get a better feedback loop going forward. I would be happy for the Senate to be part of that dissemination about this being a great instrument for that hygiene, that dental floss. Look at what it can do, look at its potential, give us recommendations on that potential and make this annual instrument a success for everybody involved.

The Chair: I’m going to ask Mr. Spicer if he would like to jump in on this. We’ve kind of left you out there. Do you want to respond to any of these issues in particular?

We cannot hear you. We’ll hear from you in a moment because I’d like to hear from you on some of this. We’ll try to sort that out.

Senator Woo, you were next up.

Senator Woo: I’m the sponsor of the bill but not a witness, so I’m going to use my opportunity to ask a question that invites the witness to provide an answer that might clarify a question from Senator Ringuette, concerning the reconciliation or the elimination of duplication in regulations between provinces and the federal government — not in the context of the Canada free trade agreement but in the context of immigration.

I wonder if Mr. van Raalte has that at his fingertips. I don’t want to put him on the spot. There is another amendment being studied at another committee. It proposes to allow the sharing of data between provinces and the federal government when it comes to recent arrivals in Canada who are transitioning from the status of temporary residents to permanent residents. Mr. van Raalte, I don’t know if you have that at your fingertips and can comment on it, only by way of presenting an example of how some of this bill will touch on provincial-federal coordination.

The Chair: We may hear that back from the committee studying that issue. Do you have any comments, Mr. van Raalte?

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you, Madam Chair, for the question. In the case of immigration where it is a shared jurisdiction, there are certain roles and responsibilities of the federal immigration department and what provinces and territories do. In terms of that information-sharing provision, that is information that is collected by the Government of Canada that will facilitate administration of immigration or cascading immigration responsibilities within the provinces and territories.

As you stated, that is not an example of an internal trade barrier. It is around the coordination of our immigration rules and laws. That data sharing is an opportunity to improve efficiency in that area. I cannot get in much deeper than that, but we’ll be looking forward to the responses from our colleagues at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

The Chair: Thank you for that, because as the host committee here, we intend to hear back from people that are studying the particulars. We’re still having issues with Mr. Spicer’s communications, so let me put this question to Mr. van Raalte. You referenced the Red Tape Reduction Act of 2012-13. Some of us were on this committee that far back, and we remember the importance of the idea — the sort of one for one — that if you are going to bring in a new rule, get rid of an old rule. You said $60 million has been saved since 2013 because you’ve reduced a regulation. Unfortunately, in today’s terms these numbers are pretty small. That could be one rule somewhere that was eliminated.

How else do you measure that? Because measuring that by the value of over 10 years — can you give us any other insight on that? Have there been 100 regulations reduced? Have there been three? How else can we look at this?

Mr. van Raalte: I’m happy to respond, Madam Chair, and provide a little more context on that figure. It’s a representation of the concept of administrative burden. Between 2012 and 2013 when the one-for-one rule was introduced all the way up to March 31 of 2021 — that’s as far as we’re calculating for now — $23.1 million in administrative burden was introduced in federal regulatory proposals, while $83.6 million in burden was removed, resulting in that $60.5 million in annual net administrative burden savings.

Sixty-three regulations that imposed administrative burden on business were added, while 248 regulations were removed, resulting in a net of 185 regulations being removed from the federal books.

I can give you one annual example so that you can see how it does accumulate even in an annual context — the relative size of that nature. For regulatory changes, just in the 2021 fiscal year, just under $900,000 of new burden was introduced while just under $3 million of existing burden was removed. For that fiscal year, it was a net decrease of a little over $2 million.

The Chair: Let me throw out the flip side. If I’m a small business operating in Canada, and I have been struggling for two years and didn’t know there was a new rule to declare bankruptcy — or the rule hadn’t been changed yet — where does all of that cost and impact get accounted for? I can see that you have less paper on the government side, or you have removed this rule, but how would you even be able to calculate the impact of a regulation on a business person or an individual that you have not changed yet — or you’re in the process of changing them, but it has had an impact on them for the last five years?

Mr. van Raalte: I’m not sure I understand the question.

The Chair: We’re looking at the stakeholders in this issue and whether you’re hearing from people in a timely manner about this. If there is a regulation in place that is costing my small business X dollars a year to comply with that regulation, and then you decide that this regulation is going to go through this process and disappear, where in that do you account for the dollar burden on that small business? Also, when it is removed, is there a dollar benefit to them? I don’t know how else to put it. How do you account for the people who are impacted by your rules?

Mr. van Raalte: Madam Chair, to the best of my ability, when a new regulation is put in place, departments, through our rules from the Treasury Board of Canada and the cabinet directive on regulation, are required to publish a regulatory impact assessment with a cost-benefit analysis.

That cost-benefit analysis is at a national level. It includes a small business lens. We have to be transparent about what the specific implications may be for small and medium-sized enterprises, but the cost is calculated at the national impact level. The regulatory impact analysis may — and I say “may” — have to identify the potential number of organizations impacted, and so you could derive an individual cost perspective.

The Chair: That’s fine. We won’t —

Mr. van Raalte: The corollary is when we remove a regulation from the books, we do not then do a relieving impact assessment, which I think is what you’re looking for.

The Chair: Yes, that’s what I’m getting at.

Senator Bellemare: I have a question; I don’t know if it’s related to that. I remember when I was, in the past, on another committee. We passed this bill called Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act. Is there anything in the bill that we actually have that is in relation to this act? That was controversial at that time, and I want to know if there is any relation in the bill about that.

Mr. van Raalte: Madam Chair, will you permit me to do a quick scan of my notes so I will be complete in my response to the senator’s question? If there is another one, you could come back to me.

The Chair: Absolutely. That would be fair.

Senator C. Deacon: With delight, I will speak with Ms. Miller. I want to look at those amendments that you have had under your control that you have run the process on. Where have you found limitations, potentially in the process as it exists today? Concerns about resource limitations, capacity limitations — areas where, if we are to advance this and recommend in our observations, for example, that this process be expanded or that you be given more support to enable more irritants to be eliminated. I propose that the name of the act be changed to the regulatory irritant elimination act. What advice would you have for us in terms of enhancing the process to make sure it does not create future problems, and that it achieves its full potential, as I think you and many other public servants see it as being?

Ms. Miller: Thank you, I will respond to the part of the question that I am able to respond to. Unfortunately, it will call my colleague Mr. van Raalte into play for part of it, so he will have a part of this question. But I can certainly speak to my experience with these particular amendments and how the process served them.

I would say that the process, in our case, worked extremely well for the set of amendments that we have before us precisely because they fit the purpose of the bill very well, which is not to do things that require additional consultation or represent a new direction but serve to address, as Mr. van Raalte put it, some of the plaque in the system. In that case, I certainly felt that the purpose is clear. We are able to, I hope, clearly explain the purpose of the amendments to this committee and to other parliamentarians as required, and then be able to follow the legislative process through.

I mentioned the case of the Trademarks Act amendments and that there is a bit of a distinction between things that need to get done in legislation. I think that’s an example of how you can see that this process is not appropriate for all types of things that might need to get done. In our case, there was a bit of a distinction. Some things can get done through this bill and some things should follow another path, and the process enabled us to make that distinction.

As to the forward-looking, I would have to defer to Mr. van Raalte and his team on that question, since they are the keepers of that process. But I can confirm it has worked well for this set of amendments here today.

The Chair: Mr. van Raalte, are you ready to answer all sorts of questions?

Mr. van Raalte: It’s my job to be ready, Madam Chair. I hope my responses are satisfactory. I will point to older examples that, again, we are trying to clean up, and it is the way we think about the world in the day of the context. Legislation for future proofing needs to avoid specifying technology that is to be used to achieve an outcome. You want to draft your legislation and your regulations with a view to achieving an outcome, the “what” we want to do, and avoid defining how we’re going to do it. You may be familiar with examples of both legislation and regulations that talk about using a fax machine, or that talk about needing a wet signature, and that’s the law. The law is that you must provide a wet signature. That is an example of non-future proofing. You want the policy advice for the drafters not to define how we’re going to do something, but what we want to achieve from a policy objective. That’s the broad principle.

I would balance that with, when we engage stakeholders generally in the development of outcome-based regulations, you get a lot of pushback from their lawyers in wanting us to define the “how.” You’re trying to build an agile, flexible system that says, you tell us how you’re going to achieve that outcome, but because of risk tolerance, you do get a little bit of pushback. From the maturity of the Canadian regulatory framework system, we still have a way to go in partnership with those stakeholders.

Senator C. Deacon: If I could follow up on that specific point, Mr. van Raalte. Do you see that it is the more traditional stakeholders who are wanting to define the process because they have a vested interest in the existing process? They’ve got, in many cases, a large invested capital base. Is that a factor of you not potentially including enough new entrants in the process, or is there a risk that might be a factor? That you’re not hearing from the voices that want to make sure that the “what” is the anchor upon which it is embedded and not the “how,” because the “how” could change over time and allow for new innovation, and that increases productivity growth and creates opportunity for Canadians. I’m wondering if maybe it’s a factor of whom you are listening to. Is that a consideration?

Mr. van Raalte: Absolutely. You get some detail on that from individual regulatory departments, where they experience that and how they attempt to broaden those consultations on their specific regulatory packages. But in general, your observation is valid, senator.

Senator C. Deacon: Thank you.

The Chair: I think that is important. We’re not asking the BlackBerry to be the tool for the system.

Senator Loffreda: My question is on the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, and the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. I remember that during my accounting days, when we went from a notice to a reader to an audit, we would always verify the annual return, and many times those annual returns weren’t proper. The small business man, the entrepreneur, would be exceptional at running his business, but on the administrative side at times a little negligent in keeping those returns up to date. We would update them when we had an audit.

Is there not another way for the government to know that the business is active rather than the small-business man filling out an annual update statement every year? Because it adds to administration, and if we could relieve some administration from our small- and-medium-sized enterprises, I think it would be an advantage for all. Yes, when the accountants come in, as I mentioned, when there is work being done, it’s on the checklist, it is updated. I remember so many years, countless times, where I had to fill out three or four years because it wasn’t done the three or four previous years. The consequences were nominal, obviously. But there are many small businesses in Canada, and maybe there is a better way of knowing they are active rather than sending in the annual update statement.

Ms. Miller: Thank you very much for the question, senator.

It’s certainly a very good question and one that gets at the heart of why the government is proposing to make these changes specifically with consideration to the potential burden on businesses because, currently, as you point out, there can be confusion about how to comply with administrative requirements in certain cases, but there are also consequences for failing to do so and particularly around the issue of changing the title from the “annual return” to the “annual update statement.”

The goal there is to avoid the confusion that could cause a business, whether it’s large or small, not to file those returns — or the annual update statements, as they will be called — as required by Corporations Canada, which could in terms of consequences cause a corporation to be dissolved. The registry that Corporations Canada maintains — it is important that it is kept up to date, and this is the process that currently exists in legislation. The goal there, of course, is allowing the full range of stakeholders, whether it’s investors or consumers or financial institutions, to be informed and make those informed decisions about corporations that are federally incorporated in Canada.

The goal is to simplify what is required for businesses, to make it clearer and to help them avoid consequences that we obviously don’t want to see come to pass.

Senator Loffreda: Thank you.

The Chair: Mr. Spicer, we have connected with you. Lucky you, you have heard the 10,000 questions that we’ve asked. You can just pick one and comment on it and we’ll get you back into the conversation here. Thank you.

David Spicer, Vice President, Legislative Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Measurement Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Obviously, I did miss a few questions, but I believe Senator Bellemare was asking about the unintended consequences with respect to some of these amendments. That is an excellent point and something that regulators, in general, always have to consider when amending either legislation or regulations.

For example, the proposal that we have with the Weights and Measures Act has a temporary permission ability, so companies can bring technology forward and it can be put on the market faster. We have built-in checks and balances there. For example, we have a time limit on how long the temporary permission will last. There are terms and conditions that we may want to set. For example, it could only function in this kind of environment or be installed in this kind of environment, and those sorts of things.

We try, to the extent possible, to take those into account. Again, quite rightly, we have checks and balances in place not only to protect Measurement Canada but also the companies that are wanting to install these technologies.

The Chair: Thank you for jumping into that. Can you give us, as some senators have requested here, a couple of examples of something that you’re proposing that you think will change somebody’s life for the better?

Mr. Spicer: Well, they all will.

The Chair: Yes, of course. Pick your favourite then.

Mr. Spicer: Thank you, Madam Chair, for the question. The substantive amendment to the Weights and Measures Act is that temporary permission authority. We currently have the ability under Weights and Measures to offer what is called a temporary dispensation. Perhaps you’re a company with a particularly innovative measuring device, whether that’s a load scanner device, for example, or some sort of laser measurement that we haven’t seen before. Although we may not have the testing equipment to appropriately test it, we’ll be in a position to allow that onto the marketplace, again with those checks and balances, in a way that allows it to be tested.

We will monitor those results back and forth with the company in question as it rolls out. Then at the end of that test period, we’ll be able to have a better idea of whether that’s something we want to approve going forward or if we still need to do some more work if we don’t yet have a particular piece of equipment.

That one, for sure, I think, will change lives. Well, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but in any case, the moves that Measurement Canada are making here are largely in response to our regulations and laws being very prescriptive. They’re very old. We’re trying to add some flexibility for folks.

The Chair: You’ve raised an interesting point here, and this may go to the larger issue. If we keep things in this system a little more temporary, say if we test this for six months or a year, then it should be way less complicated to undo it if it doesn’t work out, and it will still give you time to get the feedback.

Mr. Spicer: Correct. That’s right. Again, these would likely be devices that are used in limited circumstances and, again, that’s a condition that we could put on that temporary permission. We could sort of say you can roll out 5 or 10 or 50 of these things.

The Chair: Because that may just apply to other sessions. So let’s hear from Ms. Miller, if we could, on whether that’s even applicable in the world you’re dealing with. Could we test-drive some stuff before we carve it in stone?

Ms. Miller: Thank you very much for that question. In my world, it depends a little bit on the distinction between legislation and regulations. I have referred a couple of times to changes to the Trademarks Act where regulations are required to address some of the more stakeholder-facing aspects of the requirements.

Sometimes you use regulations as well to get at some of the other questions that colleagues have raised, questions about the how. Sometimes, if you’re going to give guidance about the way in which a thing might be done, which might depend on changing technology, might depend on some of the changing factors, regulations which are easier to change and have a less set-in-stone character then legislation might be the right place to do it.

I would also say, though, that there are opportunities to be responsive within the proposals that I have discussed. For example, the question of changing the way that notices of bankruptcies are required to be published is a perfect example of an area where local newspapers at one time were the best way to reach the right group of people. Now we’re recognizing through these amendments that there are a whole variety of ways that might actually be more effective for the sake of the bankruptcy. That would be a pretty good example of what you’re getting at.

The Chair: Mr. van Raalte, do you want to comment on that, the idea of maybe making more things temporary until we test drive them?

Mr. van Raalte: Absolutely, Madam Chair.

More broadly, different countries, and even within the Government of Canada itself, are testing and using what we call regulatory sandboxes. Those are regulations that allow you to exempt new products coming to the market from the existing regulation. It goes back to Senator Deacon’s point about how to test-drive the new players up against the establishment.

The concept of the sandbox says that, within these boundaries, you are exempt from the rules that exist, and we will figure out a new rule set that is fair and equitable but allows the innovation to happen. The sandboxes within the federal system are limited. Transport Canada has a sandbox. I believe they’re using it now to test-drive regulations on “unpersoned” drones because those are new technologies. We don’t have regulations for drones. We need to figure that out. There’s lots of potential competition there. They’ll probably thank me for volunteering them, but I think that would be an example. We’re waiting for the lessons learned on that, ourselves, Madam Chair and senators, so I don’t want to get out ahead of them doing that.

The Chair: That’s good.

Mr. van Raalte: But that’s a good example of what you’re getting at.

The Chair: Yes, and what we can do to be helpful in terms of responding to this.

[Translation]

Senator Gignac: If I understand correctly, section 159 of the bill amends the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act so that personal information under the control of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada may be shared with any department, federal or provincial agency or Crown corporation within the limits set out.

Madam Chair, you asked if there were examples of ways to improve people’s lives. Were there not examples here of ways that could make life more difficult for immigrants who have received citizenship? The documentation we have received indicates that the disclosure of information under this amendment will help Global Affairs Canada evacuate people with permanent resident status or people without status.

Are we really talking about modernization — administrative relief — or are we giving more power to the federal government to react more quickly on the immigration front?

As a second question, has there been any consultation with the provinces on this issue? Because we are also talking about personal health information, and as far as I know, health is a provincial jurisdiction.

[English]

The Chair: Mr. van Raalte, do you want to take that one on?

Mr. van Raalte: Madam Chair, I would have to defer that response to colleagues from the appropriate department. I believe that issue will be studied by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. It’s a more than fair question, but I’m not the right person to answer it.

[Translation]

Senator Gignac: Can you provide us with a written response?

[English]

The Chair: We’ll hear from the committee that is looking at that, but it raises the question about once you’ve acknowledged a technology, then what that technology is capable of leapfrogs ahead. Yes, unintended consequences, absolutely.

Senator Smith: Going back to Senator Bellemare’s question about avoiding possible unintended consequences associated with making some of the changes to the 29 acts in Bill S-6, are there processes in place to ensure that any undesirable outcomes from these changes are quickly rectified? Is there a mechanism to do so? How often do you run into these types of situations?

The Chair: We keep coming back to this point, so I think it’s an important one. Everybody is coming at it from a different place. You write the regulation and there’s almost an instant response from somewhere — industry, whoever it may be — saying, “Oh, my God, I didn’t think about this.” Then what happens?

Mr. van Raalte: Thank you for the question, Madam Chair. I have two streams of response for that.

In some cases, they are straightforward legislative changes that are being proposed and there’s no further regulatory change to follow up. Those legislative changes are attempts to provide legal clarity. They’re attempts to fix very technical drafting issues.

If there were a follow-up, if there were unintended consequences, there would have to be a feedback loop and we would have to go through the process of amending that legislation again to fix that problem. There’s been due diligence by the challenge function within central agencies to try to avoid that, but again, I can’t promise you that we’re perfect human beings.

The second stream is that many of these changes then require subsequent regulatory changes to fully remove the irritant or the legislation that is preventing better regulation. That regulatory development process will include, under the Cabinet Directive on Regulation, the full consultation cycle with stakeholders that departments have to follow. There’s pre-consultation on the broad policy objectives, there’s the formal consultation under the Canada Gazette process, and then there’s the implementation consultation as departments move forward on how the regulations are going to be implemented.

Senator Smith: How long will those processes take place in a normal situation? It’s not a normal situation, but could you give me an idea of how long these processes would take?

Mr. van Raalte: It generally takes between 18 and 24 months for the full regulatory development cycle to go from conception to approval by Treasury Board ministers. It depends, senator, on how complicated the proposal may be and how dynamic stakeholders’ interests may be. It can move a lot faster with some political energy, but in general we say between 18 and 24 months.

Senator Smith: Are there ever situations where this type of question would be put in abeyance for a later date because there could be other priorities that are more important?

Mr. van Raalte: If I understand the question, each department publishes a Forward Regulatory Plan — again, that’s part of our requirements — so that stakeholders are aware of what is upcoming in terms of the potential workload they may have from a consultation perspective, and to have early engagement with departments.

The sequencing of how different regulatory proposals come from each cabinet minister depends on both the development of the proposal and the challenge function by my colleagues on the other side of the shop in Regulatory Affairs, but also in terms of the government’s priorities.

Senator Smith: Thank you.

The Chair: Who triggers the minister or cabinet? Is this just because they’ve been lobbied by an industry? What triggers the process for you to put this on the agenda: topic A, rule B?

Mr. van Raalte: Madam Chair, it’s a fine art, I would say, of readiness and gatekeeping. At any Treasury Board meeting there could be — and it’s very anecdotal — a hundred proposals being considered. It depends on the resource capacity of both sponsoring departments on regulatory proposals and the intake capacity of my colleagues within Regulatory Affairs.

The Chair: What I’m asking is this: Of the hundred, who decides which five you’re going to do?

Mr. van Raalte: Department by Department, that’s the minister’s prerogative.

Senator C. Deacon: You’ve given me hope in terms of talking about regulatory sandboxes. They need clear principles for operation in order to encourage innovators to be a part of them and do so in a matter that helps those innovators to incorporate the technologies they develop — thanks to ISED and the supports at ISED — and incorporate them into the economy. So thank you; I’m glad to hear about the sandboxes.

I want to ask you about standards development processes outside of government helping to streamline the regulatory modernization process. Clearly, there’s a capacity limitation. We have a hundred proposals coming in and you’re choosing a handful. I’m not doubting that those hundred are important.

So you need to streamline your process. Have you considered working with standards development bodies to help limit the extent of regulatory reform necessary?

Mr. van Raalte: This dovetails nicely with the sandboxes and maybe the hope I’ve given Senator Deacon in terms of the same agility that may be offered through sandboxes is the type of agility he’s speaking to in terms of incorporation by reference — to go back to Senator Bellemare’s question about lots of concerns regarding that — is that standards development process.

Without getting overly complicated, there’s comfort within the federal system in terms of, as you said, principles and guardrails around experimentation and innovation with sandboxes. Comfort around international standards and recognizing international standards, check, and lots of experience on that.

We’ve had lots of guidance from the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations about where we can do better on that in terms of those guardrails and how those are managed. Incorporation by reference of domestic standards and then guidance developed by departments would also create greater flexibility and agility.

By “the system,” I mean less comfort even among stakeholders, that there has to be the same principles of transparency, consultation and engagement that are embedded in the cabinet directive on regulation around regulation development.

If you delegate the standard recognizing authority to a department, who is overseeing that? As soon as you do that Treasury Board loses oversight, and so that then becomes solely ministerial accountability. It is something we are working on, Madam Chair. I think it’s an important evolution in the regulatory framework for the Government of Canada.

That principle idea that Senator Deacon raised is very important.

The Chair: Yes. That’s the kind of thing we’re looking for precisely, which is where we can give advice, specifically on that.

Senator Loffreda: My final question is on the Budget Implementation Act and on trademarks. We all know the importance of global competitiveness today, and intellectual property and trademarks.

My question is do the proposed changes that you are proposing to Canada’s trademark registration process — how do they align with the other jurisdictions globally?

We all know we have to attract investment. We have to attract foreign investment. This must have been an occasion to tweak and fine-tune it in order to attract more investment.

I’d like to have your point of view or elaboration on the following. Does this really meet the assignment and increase our global competitiveness? How do we align with other jurisdictions?

The Chair: Ms. Miller, go ahead.

Ms. Miller: Thank you, Madam Chair.

In terms of the trademark system, I would like to confirm off the top that the senator is exactly right.

The importance of intellectual property in making sure that Canada is an attractive place to do business, an attractive place for Canadian companies to grow and scale up and be able to compete globally, cannot really be overstated. It’s an incredibly important asset for businesses to be able to understand and then use and deploy strategically.

Certainly, the government pays close attention to the place of intellectual property as a tool and to the ways it can be deployed to help strengthen all of those conditions. You are absolutely right in the premise of the question.

I would say that in terms of the kind of global perspective on trademarks, one of the important things to be able to do is to emphasize the importance of actually using the trademark that you have, so being able to make strategic decisions around intellectual property but also to maximize their use.

By permitting the entry into force of the amendment, that will really underline the importance of using that intellectual property, that trademark, in Canada; that not only reinforces your brand in Canada, it reinforces it as well globally and permits you to build your brand, not just at home but abroad. This is a very important part of the puzzle.

Canada is also an important international partner when it comes to trademarks internationally and participates in a variety of international treaties and systems to make sure that the reach of trademarks filed in Canada is also global. That’s another important piece of the puzzle.

I would have to return to you with a specific answer as to which other countries this is a specific comparison with, and we could certainly undertake to do that. I think for the department’s perspective, though, and for the users of intellectual property, the key factor is really how does it enable you to be internationally competitive? And the steps the Canadian system has taken to improve trademark use are intended to do exactly that.

Senator Loffreda: I would be very interested in the written response.

Ms. Miller: Certainly.

Senator Loffreda: If we compare ourselves to other countries that are having a lot of success and are successful at it, what are they doing that we could be doing? We could then fine-tune our legislation accordingly.

The Chair: That would be helpful for our purposes here.

I want to thank you all very much, Jennifer Miller, David Spicer, James van Raalte, for fielding all of these questions so ably this evening. Who knows? We will look forward to your written statements. We may have other questions for you later. Thank you for your participation this evening.

Our second panel comes from two of the groups that are impacted by these regulations as far as we understand it. I know you are going to explain to us how you have been involved in this process and responding to the changes.

From the Canadian Gas Association, David McConkey; am I saying that correctly?

David McConkey, Director, Operations, Safety and Security, Canadian Gas Association: That’s right, thank you.

The Chair: Director of Operations, Safety and Security, from the Canadian Gas Association. From Electricity Canada, Justin Crewson, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Grid Infrastructure and Alex Kent, Manager of Regulatory Affairs and Grid Infrastructure. We have some opening remarks from Mr. McConkey, to be followed by Mr. Crewson. Mr. McConkey, go ahead. You have the floor.

Mr. McConkey: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Good evening, everyone. On behalf of myself and the Canadian Gas Association, I would like to thank Madam Chair, Senator Wallin; the Deputy Chair, Senator Deacon, and the entire Senate Standing Committee, for the opportunity to speak today.

Bill S- 6 covers many acts, as we’ve discussed here. I realize that there is a very broad set of topics that you’re considering in your work here today.

I wanted to begin by noting that the Weights and Measures Act, and by extension the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, were originally enshrined in the Constitution Act of 1867; therefore, these measurement acts are some of the original legislative constructs built into the fabric of Canada. You can imagine how pleased I was, last week, to point this out to a friend who is a constitutional lawyer out in B.C. and who was not aware of this.

The modernization of these acts is an important endeavour for energy utilities, equipment manufacturers and Canadian consumers. This effort has been a long time coming and we look forward to the opportunities it presents.

Briefly on the CGA, we are the association that represents the natural gas delivery industry from B.C. to Nova Scotia and thereby ensures that the majority of Canadians have a dynamic, resilient and affordable energy system, keeping homes warm when it’s cold out, heating water, enabling intermittent renewables like wind and solar and generating electricity more cleanly than almost any other jurisdiction on the planet.

Of great relevance to the topic of measurement, CGA also represents manufacturers of measurement devices including key homegrown Canadian companies — and I’ll highlight this — which unfortunately, due to the complexity of measurement regulations, are growing their businesses in the U.S. rather than dealing with the web of measurement hoops through which they must jump here in Canada.

Regarding the proposed change in Bill S- 6, let me start by saying that we believe these changes will contribute to improving the situation and thereby position Measurement Canada to better protect Canadians and enable increased business in Canada.

I’m happy to discuss some of these challenges that do exist in the Q and A.

With that, I’ll get off the soapbox and comment on the specifics at hand.

Electricity and gas consumers have meters attached to the outside of their homes. These meters, just like the deli scale in your local grocery store, or the gas pump, are regulated by Measurement Canada. Measurement Canada’s job is to ensure natural gas is delivered within a 3% error. To do this, every meter that goes into the field must be verified, meaning it must be seen to be working properly, and those already in the field must be periodically reverified.

There are lots of meters out there in the gas sector — 7.4 million meters and growing — so it’s difficult to check every single meter out there. Checking or verifying meters is not only a cost for the operator but it can also be an inconvenience for the homeowner. We saw this during COVID, in fact, where many homeowners did not allow utility personnel on to their property.

As an aside, industry worked closely with Measurement Canada on this issue, and together developed risk-based guidelines to balance the regulatory needs — checking the meters — with health and safety needs. I’m happy to discuss this excellent example of partnership during the Q & A as well.

To facilitate this reverification, statistical sampling is allowed, meaning only a subset of meters needs to be checked rather than every single meter. The bill expands the tools beyond statistical methods to any means. This is positive, we believe, for all parties, industry and consumers alike. With greater flexibility, Measurement Canada will be able to be more dynamic, which is so necessary as technology advances so much more quickly than it did in the past, dare I say back when the Constitution was enshrined.

Industry’s main concern is that we work together, like we did during COVID, and that the significant regulatory changes that need to take place don’t just end here with this small change. For example, we need similar allowances for the approval of metering devices, allowing the technology to be used out into the field. We look forward to working with the leadership at Measurement Canada under Ms. Diane Allan, its President, as well as Mr. David Spicer. Thank you very much and I look forward to the discussion.

The Chair: That’s great, very helpful to root us here in the real world, so we know what you’re talking about. Mr. Crewson, you’re next.

Justin Crewson, Director, Regulatory Affairs and Grid Infrastructure, Electricity Canada: Thank you very much. I will lead off with a little bit of humour just because I am going to get a little bit wonky in a second. I heard this broad process compared to dental hygiene. If that’s the case, the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, that I will speak to, is in need of a root canal.

Good evening, Madam Chair. My name is Justin Crewson. I’m the Director of Transmission and Distribution at Electricity Canada. Today, I’m joined by Alex Kent, who is responsible for our metering work.

Electricity Canada is the voice of the electricity sector in the country. Our members generate, transmit and distribute electricity to industrial, commercial and residential customers from coast to coast to coast. Electricity is Canada’s energy future and a key economic, environmental and social enabler, and is also essential to Canadian prosperity. The sector employs over 90,000 people. It contributes over $30 billion to Canada’s GDP. It is also among the cleanest in the world, with more than 80% of Canadian electricity being produced from non-emitting sources.

Electricity will drive our country’s decarbonization and enable emission reductions in other sectors, including transportation. To do this, we are going to need to make more electricity. The federal government projects we’ll need to double or triple the amount of clean electricity Canada produces by 2050.

We are also looking at how we are going to meet the government’s ambition to build a net-zero electricity grid by 2035. Today is May 4, 2022, which marks only 4,990 days until we are to accomplish the government’s goal of a 2035 electrical grid that is non-carbon emitting. As noted, this is only the first stop en route to full decarbonization of the economy by 2050, which will be powered by that clean electricity grid.

Meeting the needs of net zero will be about more than just building additional power plants. It will include rethinking how our system operates. The federal government has a critical role in this regard. One key federal change that must occur is the modernization of the electricity metering legislation. It is an essential step in promoting the adoption of electric vehicles in Canada and to modernizing the electricity grid on which they depend.

Bill S-6 is incremental progress in this regard. However, more is needed if we want to ensure that legislation and regulations remain relevant and meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

One such need is the electrification of vehicles, which will play an important part in Canada reaching its climate targets. Indeed, light-duty vehicles represent about 12% of Canada’s overall carbon emissions. Getting that to zero is a key part of Canada’s emissions reduction plan.

To do so there are several actions that the government must take. It has done a good job thus far of encouraging EV adoption by providing purchase incentives and charging infrastructure, including an additional $2.2 billion in funding in the 2022 budget. The electricity sector supports these measures wholeheartedly and, in turn, electricity companies have been active participants in building out charging infrastructure in between communities.

However, it’s not enough to just help people buy EVs and to install more chargers. These might be the exciting, visible parts of the grid, but we can’t forget about the foundations. For EVs, that means modernizing the rules around the metering and sale of electricity.

Canada’s legislation on electricity metering dates back well before the internet and our digital age. As written now, the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, or EGIA, and the Weights and Measures Act stifle innovative metering technologies and, in turn, impede the commercial deployment of technologies dependent on these.

Outdated metering legislation holds back further deployment of charging infrastructure in public and multi-residential dwellings. It also prevents charging operators from billing customers for the power they use, in addition to holding back other new clean tech.

The modernization of electricity metering legislation will enable the government climate targets. For example, the Emissions Reduction Plan includes a 100% zero-emission vehicle sales mandate by 2035, and modernizing the EGIA will enable further growth in Canada’s EV charging systems to help meet that goal.

The government has already acknowledged the need for such modernization. For instance, in a report last year, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development recommended that the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act, the Weights and Measures Act and their associated regulations, be revised to remove barriers to innovative vehicle charging and other technologies and to improve transparency for electricity providers and users.

However, we need to move from commitment to action. Earlier today, we provided your offices a copy of our report on metering. It contains 20 specific recommendations pertaining to the modernization of the EGIA and its regulations, and we hope you will consider this in your work.

With that, we’d be happy to respond to any questions.

The Chair: Thank you very much and, yes, we did receive that and will take a look. While we would all love to talk to you about what’s going to happen as we get to a carbon-neutral economy in 2030, we unfortunately here tonight are studying Bill S-6, so it will be very limited in terms of what you have spelled out. But thank you both very much for setting the stage for us.

Senator C. Deacon: Thank you, Mr. McConkey and Mr. Crewson. Mr. McConkey, you mentioned 7.4 million gas meters. I would expect it’s a multiple of that, Mr. Crewson, in terms of electrical meters in this country. The opportunity to make sure that there are new entrants at least coming into that market, I would expect that you have got a lot of big players delivering gas and electricity. I’m looking at areas for innovation in the metering element of it, and tools that can help consumers really control how their power is being used.

Does this open the door to that sort of digital transformation in how we are measuring consumption of energy, and consumers given the information to control their use more effectively?

Mr. Crewson: That is what it’s all about. When the EGIA was written it contemplated one scenario — a giant power plant producing power sending it down the line to electricity consumers.

Now what our energy future is going to require is you producing power on your roof, perhaps selling to your neighbour when you’re not using it, using your EV to aggregate with other EV owners, electric vehicle owners, selling perhaps to the assembly plant down the street when they need power and the grid is low in power. That is what it is all about and, frankly, the EGIA and the Weights and Measures Act as written do not contemplate that scenario at all. In a way, it’s actually opposite from the original intent with which it was written, which is to protect consumers. It is now hindering consumer choice.

Mr. McConkey: I agree, at the end of the day this is about innovation, and the current Measurement Canada set of regulations and specifications, I hear from my members day in and day out that they cannot do business in Canada as they can in other jurisdictions. We have Canadian homegrown metering manufacturers who are focusing their business in the U.S. because of the challenges around dealing with Measurement Canada.

The Chair: This is very helpful for us to focus on this.

Senator Massicotte: We understand you have to modernize your approach, but is there any particular amendment you propose and you’re getting negative feedback from the government, they are not open to that amendment? Are there one or two issues that are important to you, that are being refused?

Mr. Crewson: I’m happy to jump in. Frankly, to answer this, I will turn to Alex in a second for specific amendments, but the magnitude is not there to this point. These incremental adjustments, I’m sure they enable a degree of agility, but it’s not the wholesale changes that the act requires and we would very much support a much wider revision of the act. Alex, do you have anything to add?

Alex Kent, Manager, Regulatory Affairs and Grid Infrastructure, Electricity Canada: Yes, and tie it back to the previous question as well and this is an issue we have with Measurement Canada and have had great conversations with them. As more people enter the electricity market, they then fall under the contractor framework. So while new devices and new technologies may allow new market participants, they then become enmeshed within the current regulatory structure which was never designed to regulate them. This is a bigger problem.

The Chair: That’s an excellent point.

Senator Massicotte: Therefore, from what I hear from your comments, you’re not totally satisfied with what is being proposed and you need a major amendment or approach. Having said that, are you proposing that we forget about the minor amendments that are being proposed and take those out of the deal and wait for the comprehensive approach?

Mr. Crewson: I will jump in again. I wouldn’t say that, but I think it’s important to keep momentum going. I think you can walk and chew gum, as they say. Let’s do the incremental stuff but we also need the full-scale pieces. I’m in Vancouver at a regulatory energy summit and a retired former executive of an electricity company who is in charge of metering. He lives in a condo, wants an electric vehicle. He decides not to get one because his condo won’t put them in because of Measurement Canada regulations and obstacles. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re here to talk about and that’s the change that needs to occur if we are going to get to net zero.

Mr. McConkey: I’d like to add, it’s important to note that electricity and gas are totally aligned on our thinking here. It’s all about innovation. One of the specific areas, Senator Massicotte, is the approval of devices. This is on both sides, gas and electric, right now there is an extraordinarily long process to get new devices, new technology, that can measure gas or electricity out, approved and into the field. With hydrogen on the gas side, with various things, smart grids including on the gas side, it takes two years essentially for devices to be approved.

Manufacturers avoid spending their resources going through Measurement Canada approval and they rather spend their resources in other jurisdictions, just in the U.S. It’s going to hinder our ability to advance technology and get to that net-zero target and ultimately it hinders innovation.

The Chair: That’s the thing. The government’s own objective is being hindered by the red tape.

[Translation]

Senator Bellemare: I am listening and I am surprised by the answer that was just given to Senator Massicotte. I am surprised because section 4 states the following, and I quote:

authorizing the director to establish plans for the verification and reverification — using any means, including sampling...

I understand that it is the concept of sampling that has been added. What does this change entail compared to what was there before?

Mr. McConkey: I can answer that. Yes, the change is quite small, and to answer Senator Massicotte as well, it has to be done. We agree that it is useful to make this change, but we must do even more.

[English]

The change is actually to broaden from statistical sampling to any means of sampling devices. This gives more tools to Measurement Canada, which is good. We’re pleased about that but it’s a tip of the iceberg.

[Translation]

There is a lot to do to improve this situation.

[English]

The Chair: I’d like to get from both of you the process, because we asked on the other side, from Treasury Board and the other groups, which is, if you didn’t read it in the Canada Gazette, are your organizations consulted more frequently? How does this process work from your side?

Mr. Kent: We have regular contact with Measurement Canada through multiple working groups, through multiple seniority levels at the organization. We do not find out about things when they come into the Gazette usually because we have already had a conversation with Measurement Canada officials immediately prior.

The Chair: You’re having that conversation but there is the lag time we have been discussing, which is, it has to make the short list and then the shorter list?

Mr. Kent: Yes. For example, one report shared with the committee was four areas we felt the EGIA modernization should address which was published in early 2019 and those recommendations have not been actioned yet. I believe the report has been read.

Mr. Crewson: I would add that as well. We’re very engaged on specific proposals of Measurement Canada and they do hear us out on broader recommendations, but to date very little two-way engagement on that more macro piece that I’ve been discussing.

Mr. McConkey: I will add, if I might, in terms of this regulatory modernization, we heard in the fall that this was happening, in September, and we’re waiting for things to get going. And then this has been put in front of us. From our perspective, the whole consultation process hasn’t started yet as far as we understand, so that’s our perspective. We’re in touch with the senior team at Measurement Canada on a regular basis.

I will note — and this is important — Measurement Canada has some resource challenges. They really do. There have been a number of retirements that have significantly impacted their operations in the past six months. Our understanding was the reason for the delay in this kind of consultation was probably related to that. They lost a VP and a long-standing policy lead, and we’re waiting for things to get rolling. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that this suddenly came up. There are some challenges. There is a lot of work to do.

The Chair: Clearly. That’s most interesting.

Senator C. Deacon: I want to zero in on the use of standards-based accreditation or certification as a way to speed up the approval of instruments.

In a previous life, I was using very precise photonic measurement equipment, NIST reference calibration, regularly calibrated, CE mark devices, ISO compliant. It was all based on external global standards, which sped up the process of our devices being able to be used.

Do you have any recommendations around standards-based regulatory referenced progress for moving forward? A two-year wait to get a device certified is not going to allow Canada to be a very innovative economy.

Mr. McConkey: It is that situation. Technology devices are designed, manufactured and already out in the field in other jurisdictions such as the U.S. before they get through the Measurement Canada process. It’s a problem.

In terms of standards internationally, OIML is the European regulatory body on measurement. Measurement Canada seems to be trying to leverage that. To Mr. Crewson’s point earlier, there is a lot of commitment, but we’re not seeing action at this point. There are all sorts of opportunities on the standards side, international standards, as well as approval of devices. There are all sorts of labs that could be used in parallel so that it unloads the burden from Measurement Canada. Then things can go through more quickly.

I understand there is work on these things. My colleague, Mr. David Spicer — I’m disappointed he dropped off — he’s a great colleague, and I certainly don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, because we have a great working relationship with them, but there are actions that we need to see.

Mr. Crewson: There is an economic growth piece to all of this. Certainly, in some instances I’m sure you want to go with the crowd and wait for that to develop, but on the strategic growth sector that is sustainable technologies, Canada could, should and, with these changes, will be a leader in this field.

Senator C. Deacon: Hear, hear.

Mr. Kent: We have worked with Measurement Canada successfully on one such file, which was adaptive street lighting, which would allow reference to NIST. This is the first great step towards a more standards-based device approval.

Senator Loffreda: You did mention there are 7.4 million gas meters in Canada. With this amendment, how many will be affected? Who is affected?

I’d like to expand on the stakeholders question. Is there any interesting input you received from the stakeholders? Are you satisfied, and did you receive various input? Maybe you could elaborate on who those stakeholders were to derive these amendments.

Mr. McConkey: Thank you for the question, Senator Loffreda. I would say there are three stakeholder groups: Canadians, the consumer; the manufacturer of the metering device; and then there is the utility, which is the entity that’s responsible for managing the meters that are out there.

I think the consumers are fine. There are no significant concerns there. They’re more concerned about keeping inspectors off their property than their metre perhaps not working within that 3% tolerance.

With the changes, there will be benefits to the operator. With more tools in their tool belt, Measurement Canada will be more dynamic. They will be able to do things in new and innovative ways and that will be of benefit.

I would take this opportunity to highlight the manufacturer of devices. I hear from so many manufacturers that avoid Canada or put less effort and resources into expanding their reach in Canada because of these regulations. I’d be in big trouble with my members if I didn’t highlight that, because it really is a significant issue.

Mr. Crewson: Mr. Kent is more familiar with this, but candidly, one specific charging manufacturer for electric vehicles that is trying to be a world leader is a Canadian company and, because of the currents that we’re talking about, is basically waiting for the regulatory environment to develop, to rise.

Mr. Kent: As to the question about how many of the meters in the field will be affected, we won’t know until Measurement Canada says how they will change the sampling protocol. Potentially all of them if it’s about the reverification.

What we’re saying is, is the old market model the best way to do the new market that is emerging with the new participant, the EV driver, the person with solar on the roof? That’s our question to Measurement Canada and what we’re pushing modernization for.

Senator Ringuette: How many metre manufacturers do we have in Canada? Are we talking about competition with foreign makers?

Mr. McConkey: On the gas side, there is one principal manufacturer of Canadian gas meters. There are many other manufacturers that work in Canada — Italian, the U.S., et cetera — but there is one principal Canadian one.

I had a conversation with the CEO at an event last week, and he said, “I was speaking with the president of Measurement Canada and saying that we are focusing our business elsewhere because of the challenges here.” I hate to say it — don’t worry about the violins — but it breaks my heart that this homegrown Canadian manufacturer is pushed to this reality.

The Chair: Is it the same in your world, Mr. Crewson?

Mr. Crewson: Yes. Mr. Kent, do you have specifics on that?

Mr. Kent: Unfortunately, I don’t know if any of the manufacturers in Canada are Canadian in original. Many of them are international, but the same concerns are being voiced.

The Chair: As I said at the beginning, we are focused on Bill S-6 and the recommendations for changes there. It’s a very narrow world.

In response to Senator Massicotte, you were basically saying that we’ll take these little bits that are there. It’s a start, but it’s way too little, and it’s too late, and the implications are global.

Mr. Crewson: Yes. It’s like when you’re very hungry and someone offers you nibble. You’ll eat it, but you’re still pretty hungry.

Mr. McConkey: It’s really about innovation. Mr. Crewson’s comments referred to the net-zero work, and that’s a significant portion of the drive here. We need things to change so that we can be more nimble and allow innovation. Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you all very much for being with us tonight. We’re sorry for the short time. You’re being applauded in this room. Thank you, David McConkey, Director, Operations, Safety and Security, for the Canadian Gas Association; and Justin Crewson and Alex Kent from Electricity Canada. We appreciate your insights and targeting of the issues in front of us.

If there is anything that strikes you in the hours after this, feel free to send us a note. We have some of your documentation, but if there is something you want to highlight, send it to our committee, and we will be able to use that in our comments.

Mr. Crewson: Specifically, we sent a bunch of images of weird metering situations.

The Chair: We have that. I printed it out. Thank you very much, gentlemen.

Thank you to the members of the committee. We are going to continue in our next meeting the study of Bill S-6, and you will see all the issues that unfold in front of us.

(The committee adjourned.)

Back to top