Ministerial transition binder

As part of ongoing commitments to be open and transparent to Canadians, the CNSC is making its ministerial transition binder (PDF) available to the public. The document was provided to the Honourable James Carr as incoming Minister of Natural Resources and gives an overview of the organization, along with a summary of key CNSC initiatives that are currently underway.

The contents of the binder include:

  • an overview of the CNSC
  • temporary and permanent Commission member biographies
  • a description of the CNSC’s legislative and regulatory authority
  • a list of major regulatory licensing initiatives

Note: These documents have been processed under the Access to Information Act and certain information has been withheld from disclosure in accordance with the exemptions and exclusions in the Act. For information related to the exemptions/exclusions applied, please refer to the Act.

Table of Contents



Dr. Michael Binder

Appointed interim President on January 15, 2008. He was subsequently appointed on May 9, 2008 and May 9, 2013 to five-year terms as President. Current term expires May 9, 2018.

Head Office:
Ottawa, Ontario

Regional Offices:
Calgary, Alberta
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Mississauga, Ontario
Laval, Quebec

Site Offices:
Pickering, Ontario*
Darlington, Ontario*
Bruce, Ontario*
Point Lepreau, New Brunswick*
Chalk River, Ontario

FTEs: 791
Budget: $141,533,432
Licensees: 1800
Licences: 2200

Industry Impact:

  • Contribution ranges from electricity production, to mining, to cancer treatment, to use of nuclear gauges in industry
  • >$5 billion per year**
  • 30,000 direct jobs**
  • 30,000 indirect jobs**

* Site offices at nuclear power plants
** Canadian Nuclear Association, 2015


The Commission, created and mandated under the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA), is Canada’s nuclear regulator. The CNSC is independent of, but not isolated from government, and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. Nuclear regulation is a solely federal jurisdiction. The CNSC has no provincial counterparts.

The CNSC, whose vision is to be the best nuclear regulator in the world, regulates nuclear activities to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment, and to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The CNSC’s mandate also includes the dissemination of objective scientific, technical and regulatory information on both its activities as well as on the effects of nuclear technology on human health and the environment.

The Commission tribunal is comprised of up to seven permanent members appointed by the Governor in Council and is a court of record. The tribunal has the responsibility for making licensing decisions based on law and regulations. CNSC staff provides advice to the tribunal, implements tribunal decisions, and enforces compliance with regulatory requirements.

Four overarching principles – Core Plus 4Cs:

Core regulatory operations represent the bulk of the CNSC’s everyday work to deliver on its mandate. These include the administration of the regulatory framework, licensing, certification, and compliance activities, with the ultimate goal to make sure that the Canadian nuclear industry is operating safely and securely.

The 4Cs principles support the Core regulatory operations:
  • Commitment to ongoing improvements – always room for improvements to ensure      the CNSC remains an effective and efficient regulator.
  • Clarity of regulatory requirements – ensuring that licensees, vendors of nuclear      technology, and proponents understand the CNSC’s requirements stemming from the      NSCA.
  • Capacity for action – having the skills and knowledge to ensure the CNSC is ready to      respond no matter what the situation.
  • Communications – ensuring accurate, clear, concise, and timely information to      licensees, the public, Aboriginal peoples, international counterparts, other government      departments and central agencies.

The Commission

The Commission is a quasi-judicial administrative tribunal and a court of record whose mandate is clearly set out in the Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA). Tribunals have significant experience dealing with governance issues given their need to be, and be perceived to be, independent, fair and unbiased in their decisions.

The Commission tribunal is independent, but is accountable in the following ways:

  1. Accountability to Parliament: The Commission reports to Parliament through the Minister of Natural Resources. It submits annual reports to Parliament, as well as a Report on Plans and Priorities and a Departmental Performance Report. The President of the Commission, as the head of the tribunal, appears before parliamentary committees to elaborate on matters related to the administration of the regulatory regime.
  2. Legal Accountability: Regulatory decisions by the Commission can be reviewed only by the Federal Court. As a federal agency, the CNSC is subject to various laws (e.g., the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act, the Privacy Act, the Access to Information Act and the Financial Administration Act).

The Commission makes decisions on the licensing of nuclear-related activities in Canada, establishes legally binding regulations, and sets regulatory policy direction on matters related to health, safety, security and environmental issues affecting the Canadian nuclear industry. The Commission may delegate licensing and other decisions as appropriate to designated CNSC staff. When establishing regulatory policy, making licensing decisions and implementing programs, it takes into account the views, concerns and opinions of industry, interested members of the public, Aboriginals, intervenors and licensees.

The NSCA provides for the appointment of not more than seven permanent members to the Commission by Order in Council. The NSCA also provides for the appointment of temporary members. The members are in the GC-Q Group and serve during good behaviour. The President and CEO is a full-time member of the Commission. Dr. Michael Binder was appointed President and CEO of the CNSC effective January 15, 2008 for a six-month term, was reappointed on May 9, 2008 for a five-year term, and reappointed for an additional five-year term on May 9, 2013. The other members are appointed on a part-time basis, and come from across Canada, representing various scientific and business backgrounds. Currently, two commission member’s terms have expired however they have been authorized to complete files they were working on at the time of their terms expiration.

Under the NSCA, temporary members may be appointed to the Commission for a maximum of three years. However, temporary members may continue to serve past the three-year period to take part in the disposition of any matter in which that person became engaged while holding office as a member. There is no statutory limit on the number of temporary term appointment renewals, although each renewal must be approved by the Governor in Council.

The Commission Secretariat plans the business of the Commission and gives technical and administrative support to the President and to the other Commission members. This involves related communications with all stakeholders, including government departments, intervenors, licensees and the public on Commission affairs. The Secretariat is also the official registrar in relation to Commission documentation and manages the hearing process.

Composition of the present Commission

The Commission is presently comprised of the following members, whose biographies are also included in this tab.

Mr. Michael Binder was appointed interim President on January 15, 2008, and subsequently appointed to a five-year term as President on May 9, 2008. He was reappointed May 9, 2013. His term expires May 9, 2018.

Mr. André Harvey was appointed as member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on June 2, 2006. He was reappointed on October 20, 2011. His term expires on October 20, 2016.

Mr. Dan D. Tolgyesi was appointed as a member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on May 30, 2008. He was reappointed on October 20, 2011. His term expires on October 20, 2016.

Ms. Rumina Velshi was appointed as a member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on December 15, 2011. Her term expires on December 15, 2016.

Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McEwan was appointed as member of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission on March 6, 2013. His term expires March 6, 2018.

Two vacancies exist following the expiration of the terms of Dr. Moyra McDill and Dr. Ronald Barriault. These vacancies need to be addressed in order to meet the demands for upcoming Commission licensing proceedings.

Deep Geologic Repository Joint Review Panel Members

Three temporary members have been appointed by the Governor-in-Council for the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Joint Review Panel. Two panellists were recommended by the President of the CNSC and the third panellist was recommended by the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of Natural Resources was responsible for bringing the three proposed appointments to the Governor-in-Council for approval as temporary members of the CNSC for a term of three years pursuant to subsections 10(2) and 10(6) of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

Dr. James F. Archibald was appointed as a panel member on January 24, 2012.

Dr. Gunter Muecke was appointed as a panel member on January 24, 2012.

Dr. Stella Swanson was appointed as the Chair of the panel on January 24, 2012.

CNSC Organization Chart

Members of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

The Nuclear Safety and Control Act provides for the appointment of not more than seven permanent Commission members by Order in Council and of temporary members. One permanent member of the Commission is designated as the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's (CNSC's) President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

The current Commission membership is as follows:

Permanent Members:

Dr. Michael Binder
President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. André Harvey
Québec, Québec

Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McEwan
Edmonton, Alberta

Mr. Dan D. Tolgyesi
President of Québec Mining Association
Québec, Québec

Ms. Rumina Velshi
Toronto, Ontario

Dr. Michael Binder

Michael Binder

Dr. Michael Binder is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the CNSC. He was appointed to this position in January 2008 and reappointed for a second five-year term, effective May 2013.

As CNSC President, Dr. Binder leads and manages the Commission in order to protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and the environment; to implement Canada's international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and to disseminate objective scientific, technical and regulatory information to the public. His avowed mission is to ensure that Canadian nuclear facilities and activities are the safest and most secure in the world.

Throughout an extensive career in the federal public service, Dr. Binder has held senior positions at Industry Canada, the Department of Communications, the Office of the Comptroller General of Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Ministry of State for Urban Affairs and the Defence Research Board.

During his tenure as Industry Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister of Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications, Dr. Binder oversaw Canada’s transition to a network economy. He also managed the regulation of telecommunication industries, promotion of electronic commerce, and development and use of world-class information and communications technologies for the economic, social and cultural benefit of Canadians.

Dr. Binder holds a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Alberta.

Mr. André Harvey

Mr. André Harvey

Mr. André Harvey was appointed as member of the CNSC on June 2, 2006.

A native of Baie-Saint-Paul, Québec, Mr. Harvey received a B.Sc.A. in Civil Engineering from Université Laval, and an M.Sc.A in Water Management from the University of Waterloo in Ontario. Mr. Harvey was, for eight years, President of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), the Québec agency responsible for the public part of the environmental evaluation and assessment process. He held several positions within the Ministère des Richesses naturelles and the Ministère de l'Environnement, including, Director General of the Water Resources, Director General of the Environment and the Economy and Assistant Deputy Minister for Sustainable Development within the Ministère de l'Environnement.

Mr. Harvey has been a member of various organizations related to water and environment management. Notably, he was co-chairman of the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Committee, and under the auspices of the International Joint Commission, he was the Québec representative on the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control and a member of the Conseil d'étude sur le niveau d'eau des Grands Lacs. He was also member of the Board of Directors of Recyc-Québec and Collecte sélective Québec and a member of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

Mr. Harvey received the 2005 Grand Prix d'excellence from the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec – the highest honour for Québec engineers.

Dr. Alexander McEwan

Dr. Alexander McEwan

Dr. Alexander (Sandy) McEwan was appointed as member of the CNSC on March 7, 2013.

A resident of Edmonton, Dr. McEwan holds a medical degree and a Master of Science in Nuclear Medicine from the University of London in the UK. He obtained his FRCP(C) certification in 1986 and has been a practising nuclear medicine physician at the Cross Cancer Institute since July of that year. He is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Oncology at the University of Alberta, and is a past chair of the Department of Radiology at the same university.

His clinical and research interests are in the clinically effective and safe uses of radiation for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, particularly in patients with cancer. He is an internationally recognized expert in the role of radiopharmaceuticals in the management of patients with neuroendocrine cancers and has established the largest treatment program in Canada. Dr. McEwan has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has been awarded more than 20 million dollars in peer-reviewed grants.

He is a past president of the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine and from 2007–08 was president of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging in the United States. Dr. McEwan is also a member of the Society of Nuclear Medicine Clinical Trials Network. In these roles, he represented the discipline at many venues, including discussions with the U.S. and Canadian federal governments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), industry and other medical specialty societies. He was Special Advisor on medical isotopes to the Canadian Federal Minister of Health from 2009 to 2011, and he sits on the Nuclear Energy Agency's High-level Group on the Security of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes. He is a member of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

Mr. Dan D. Tolgyesi

Mr. Dan D. Tolgyesi

Mr. Dan D. Tolgyesi was appointed a member of the CNSC effective May 30, 2008.

A resident of Québec City, Mr. Tolgyesi holds a B.Eng. in Mining Engineering and a Master's in Mineral Economics from Laval University in Québec City. For over 20 years, he held the position of President of the Québec Mining Association, the organization responsible for promoting the development of mineral resources and of the mining, metallurgy and related industries in Québec.

With over 30 years of experience in the mining industry, Mr. Tolgyesi has held operational, supervisory and management positions at Noranda Inc. and Falconbridge Limited. He managed the Portage, Opémiska and Lac Shortt mines and then, as general manager, was responsible for all the mining operations of Minnova Inc. in Québec.

Mr. Tolgyesi was involved with various natural resources and business organizations as well as with associations that protect the health and safety of workers in the mining industry.

He was a member of the boards of directors of several organizations, including the Conseil du patronat du Québec, the Centre patronal en environnement du Québec and MISA (an economic development agency in Abitibi – Témiscamingue), and is co-chair of the Association paritaire pour la santé et la sécurité du travail - Mines (APSM). He was a cofounder of COREM (a consortium of applied research for the treatment and transformation of mineral substances) and SOREDEM (a mining research and development consortium), which he led for more than 15 years. As a member of the mining engineering advisory boards of McGill University, the École Polytechnique de Montréal and Laval University in Québec City, he was very involved in the development and training of future engineers. He was also a guest lecturer on several occasions, particularly in Canada, the United States, Peru, Argentina and South Africa.

Mr. Tolgyesi has several professional affiliations, including the Ordre des Ingénieurs du Québec, the Society of Mining Engineers of AIME (USA) and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (UK). He is also a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM) and the Mine Ventilation Society of South Africa. In 1998, Mr. Tolgyesi received an award of recognition for his outstanding services to the Canadian mining industry and the CIM.

Ms. Rumina Velshi

Ms. Rumina Velshi

Ms. Rumina Velshi was appointed as a member of the CNSC on December 15, 2011.

Ms. Velshi holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Civil Engineering), Master of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) and a Master of Business Administration, all from the University of Toronto. From June 2010 to December 2011, Ms. Velshi served as a Chairperson of the Board of Referees (Ontario Regional Division), an administrative tribunal responsible for conducting hearings and making decisions on appeals filed pursuant to the Employment Insurance Act. Previously, between 1978 and 2009, she worked in various capacities at Ontario Hydro and Ontario Power Generation (OPG). Most recently, she was Director, Planning and Control, for the Darlington New Nuclear Project. In that role, she was OPG's commercial lead for the procurement of new nuclear reactors for the Darlington site as well as responsible for developing and implementing the project management infrastructure. The Darlington New Nuclear Project is one of the largest mega capital projects in Canada.

Throughout her career, Ms. Velshi has worked relentlessly on promoting careers in science and engineering, especially for women. She is the founding member of Women in Science and Engineering (Canada), has served on the Board of Directors of Women in Nuclear (WiN) (Canada), and is a member of the Board of Directors of Scientists in School – an organization with the mandate of inspiring an excitement for science and technology in children of all ages. She is the recipient of the 2011 WiN Canada Leadership Award.

Ms. Velshi is also very active in international development activities. She is the founding member of Focus Humanitarian Assistance Canada, which has since become an internationally recognized humanitarian assistance agency. Ms Velshi currently serves as the Aga Khan Foundation Canada's City Chair for Toronto for the World Partnership Events, Canada's largest annual event dedicated to increasing awareness and raising funds to fight global poverty.

Members of the Joint Review Panel for the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Waste Project

The Joint Review Panel for the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Waste Project was established through the signing of a joint review panel agreement between Michael Binder, President of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of the Environment.

The Nuclear Safety and Control Act provides for the appointment by Order in Council of temporary Commission members.

The current Deep Geologic Repository Joint Review Panel membership is as follows:

Dr. Stella Swanson
Panel Chair

Dr. James F. Archibald
Panel Member

Dr. Gunter Muecke
Panel Member

Dr. Stella Swanson

Dr. Stella Swanson

Temporary member, currently Chair of the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Joint Review Panel

Dr. Stella Swanson was born and raised on a farm near Rockglen, Saskatchewan. She received her BSc (Hons) in Biology from the University of Regina and her PhD in Limnology at the University of Saskatchewan. She completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Radiation Ecology at the Saskatchewan Research Council.

Dr. Swanson's 30-year career has included management of the Aquatic Biology Group at the Saskatchewan Research Council, and consulting positions with SENTAR Consultants (now Stantec) and Golder Associates Ltd. She now owns and operates Swanson Environmental Strategies Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta.

Dr. Swanson's experience spans work for a wide range of industries as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments and non-governmental organizations. She has assessed the impacts of the nuclear fuel cycle on human health and the environment, including uranium mining and milling, nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage. She has conducted human health and ecological risk assessments of contaminated sites, operating industrial facilities and proposed future developments. Her recent projects focus on strategic environmental planning, public consultation and expert review. Dr. Swanson has maintained her connection with the research community through supervision of graduate students, participation in academic research projects and membership on review committees for the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Toxic Substances Research Initiative. She served on the Scientific Review Group advising the federal review panel on High Level Nuclear Waste Disposal in Canada (Seaborn Panel).

Dr. Swanson's recent experience has included serving as Chair of the Strategic Advisory Panel on Selenium Management; this independent Panel has published a strategic plan for the management of selenium discharges from Teck Coal operations. Dr. Swanson is a member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists, the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, and the Canadian Association on Water Quality.

Dr. James F. Archibald

Dr. James F. Archibald

Temporary member, currently appointed to the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Joint Review Panel

Dr. James F. Archibald is a professor in the Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining, Queen's University at Kingston. He has knowledge and direct experience of both the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes, having been an appointed member of the federal-provincial review panel for new uranium mine developments in the Province of Saskatchewan. Dr. Archibald was also a technical advisor to the federal review panel that assessed nuclear fuel waste disposal concepts.

Dr. Archibald's current research interests include assessment of innovative forms of backfill media, development of rapidly deployable spray-on lining supports for underground hard rock mines and the use of similar spray liner agents for acid mine drainage control.

He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM), Chairman of the Rock Engineering Society of CIM, Past Chairman of the Canadian Rock Mechanics Association, a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, and pursues an active career as a Professional Engineer in the Province of Ontario.

Dr. Gunter Muecke

Dr. Gunter Muecke

Temporary member, currently appointed to the Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste Joint Review Panel

Dr. Muecke graduated from the University of Alberta with a B.Sc. in Geology in 1963 and a Masters Degree in Structural Geology in 1964. In 1969, he received a D.Phil. in Geochemistry from Oxford University. Dr. Muecke started his career as a field geologist for Shell Canada (1960–1963) and became a lecturer in Mineralogy at Oxford University (1968–1970). He then pursued a teaching career at Dalhousie University, in the Department of Geology and Earth Sciences (1970–1985) and at the School of Resource and Environmental Studies (1985–1998). From 1998 to 2006, he assumed post-retirement appointments as Associate Research Professor at the School of Resource and Environmental Studies and at the Faculty of Science (Geographic Information Systems).

Dr. Muecke holds additional professional experience as a consultant both at the international level (Hahn-Meitner Institute of Nuclear Studies, Berlin, Germany) and at the national level (underground thermal energy storage, Environment Canada). He has knowledge and direct experience of both the federal and provincial environmental assessment processes having been an appointed member of the federal-provincial review panel for the Whites Point Quarry and Marine Terminal Project (2004) and as a member of the review panel for the Kelly's Mountain Coastal Superquarry Project (1991).

Dr. Muecke is the author or co-author of research papers on geology, geochemistry, petrogenesis, geochronology and stratigraphic and magmatic evolution. He was an active member of departmental and faculty committees, such as the Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee, Department of Earth Sciences Curriculum Committee (chair) and Dalhousie Northern Studies Committee (chair). He was a member of international interdisciplinary technical journals, such as the editorial board of Lanthanide and Actinide Research.

Dr. Muecke has received numerous awards throughout his career, such as the University of Alberta Gold Medal in Geology (1963), Woodrow Wilson Fellowship (1964), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellowship (1977, 1978, 1983) and the University of Alberta Endowment Fund for the Future (1982).

Legislative authority, regulatory philosophy, and scope of regulation

Legislative authority

Nuclear Safety and Control Act (NSCA)

The CNSC was established in May 2000 when the NSCA came into force. This Act replaced the Atomic Energy Control Act that had been in place since 1946 without significant change and under which the Atomic Energy Control Board (the predecessor to the CNSC) regulated the nuclear industry.

The NSCA lays out an expanded role and the responsibilities of the CNSC and:

  • establishes the seven-member Commission and its responsibilities and powers with respect to regulation of the nuclear industry;
  • establishes a licensing regime for all nuclear facilities and nuclear-related activities, requiring that any person who wishes to carry out prescribed activities have a licence from the Commission before doing so. Licences may include conditions that are specific to the proposed use or activity, including the requirement for financial guarantees; and,
  • provides extensive regulation-making powers to the Commission, subject to Governor in Council approval.

The NSCA is supported by a set of regulations, as well as by a suite of regulatory documents that provide guidance to stakeholders on the Commission’s expectations.

Review / Revision of regulations

The CNSC’s regulatory framework consists of laws passed by Parliament that govern the regulation of Canada's nuclear industry, and regulations, licences and documents that the CNSC uses to regulate the nuclear industry. As part of its responsibilities to develop, maintain and enforce its regulatory regime, the CNSC has implemented a risk-informed approach to regularly reviewing and updating its regulatory framework.

The NSCA does not have a statutory requirement for a specific timing for a legislative review. However, the CNSC monitors the NSCA to ensure that it provides a sufficiently vigorous mandate for the activities required to fulfill the CNSC’s responsibilities.

International nuclear regulatory agreements and legally-binding conventions are implemented by the CNSC, especially in the areas of non-proliferation and safeguards. These obligations are sometimes incorporated into regulatory requirements through amendments to regulations.

Recent, current and future regulatory initiatives include:

International harmonization

Regulation Amending the Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations
incorporates updated international standards for the safe transport of radioactive materials, as set out in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s TS-R-1 Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Materials, and will address issues that have arisen since the current Regulations came into force. The Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations 2015 came into force in June 2015 and was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II on July 1, 2015.

CNSC’s Forward Regulatory Plan 2015-17

Currently, the CNSC has planned regulatory initiatives to bring forward for consideration by the CNSC’s Commission and Governor in Council over the next two years. The regulatory initiatives are part of CNSC’s forward regulatory plan 2015-17 currently posted on its web site, and is updated semi-annually. Brief summaries of the initiatives follow:

Regulations Amending Several CNSC Regulations, includes amendments to the Class I Nuclear Facilities Regulations, the Uranium Mines and Mills Regulations, and the Radiation Protection Regulations, to respond to recommendations made by the CNSC Fukushima Task Force, and further strengthen and clarify the CNSCs’ regulatory framework.

A discussion paper was published in 2013 seeking feedback from licensees, the Canadian public and other stakeholders on the comprehensive suite of proposed amendments. The CNSC is currently working with the Department of Justice to draft revised regulations. The regulatory proposal is scheduled for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I in 2016, prior to finalizing the proposal for consideration by the CNSC's Commission and the Governor in Council late in 2016 or 2017.

Radiation Protection Regulations are based upon the 1991 recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP 60). Since that time, new international standards and recommendations have evolved which need to be incorporated into the Regulations to ensure they continue to meet international standards and best practices.

A discussion paper was published in 2013 seeking feedback from licensees, the Canadian public and other stakeholders on the CNSC's regulatory proposals to amend these Regulations.

The CNSC is planning to work with the Department of Justice later in 2015 or 2016 to draft revised regulations. The regulatory proposal would be scheduled for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I in 2016, prior to finalizing the proposal for consideration by the CNSC's Commission and the Governor in Council late in 2016 or 2017.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Import and Export Control Regulations (NNIECR) provide for the regulatory control of the imports or exports of controlled nuclear and nuclear-related dual use substances, equipment and technology. Under the NNIECR, Canadian importers and exporters must obtain and comply with licences controlling the international transfer of nuclear and nuclear-related dual-use items. Schedules in the Regulations identify items subject to control, which is based upon control lists established by the Participating Governments of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), including Canada.

The control lists are published in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) information circulars, and incorporated into domestic nuclear non-proliferation policy and regulations in NSG countries. In Canada, these control lists are incorporated in the CNSC’s NNIECR, and into the Export Control List administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.

In 2013, the NSG completed a comprehensive review of its export control lists and agreed on changes to the control entries for certain nuclear and nuclear-related substances, equipment and technology (information) that are traded internationally.

The CNSC is proposing amendments to the Regulations to reflect changes to the NSG lists, thereby ensuring continued effective regulation of Canadian nuclear exporting and importing industry, and to address some technical and administrative issues relating to the NNIECR.

A discussion paper was published in March 2015 seeking feedback from licensees, the Canadian public and other stakeholders on the CNSC’s regulatory proposal to amend these regulations. The CNSC is currently reviewing the feedback prior to developing the regulatory proposal for publication in the Canada Gazette, Part I, scheduled for later in 2016.

Key regulatory document activity

As part of its Regulatory Reform agenda, the CNSC has been working to streamline its regulatory documents and consolidate recommended practices and guidelines into single documents in order to provide greater clarity for industry and the public. These documents are called "REGDOCS".

REGDOCs for Commission presentation during the next few months:

REGDOC-2.3.1, Conduct of Licensed Activities: Construction and Commissioning Programs

REGDOC-2.3.1 sets out the requirements and guidance of the CNSC for the construction and commissioning of facilities in Canada that use nuclear reactors. These facilities include nuclear power plants or small reactors for the generation of power or heat for industrial processes and small reactors for non-power generation uses (e.g., isotope production, and research and development activities). The REGDOC is scheduled for Commission Presentation in December 2015.

REGDOC-3.2.2, Aboriginal Engagement

The CNSC is currently finalizing REGDOC-3.2.2, Aboriginal Engagement. REGDOC-3.2.2 sets out requirements and guidance for licensees on Aboriginal engagement and will help ensure that potential or established Aboriginal and/or treaty rights are considered, as appropriate.

REGDOC-3.2.2 provides procedural direction for licensees, which supports the broader approach to Aboriginal consultation implemented by the CNSC in cooperation with federal departments and agencies. The REGDOC is scheduled for Commission presentation in January 2016.

As part of the process for development of a REGDOC, the CNSC also publishes draft REGDOCs on its website for public consultation and review.

Key REGDOCs for public review during the next few months:

REGDOC-2.2.4, Fitness for Duty: Managing Worker Fatigue

In October of 2015, the CNSC released for consultation a REGDOC for Managing Worker Fatigue. Fatigue is widely recognized to affect fitness for duty because of its potential to degrade several aspects of human performance. Therefore, licensees must address fatigue as part of their approach to ensure that workers are fit for duty.

The REGDOC includes requirements and guidance applying to a broad population of workers who could pose a risk to nuclear safety and security and prescriptive limits on hours of work and recovery periods applying to a smaller subset of workers who fill safety-sensitive positions.

Another REGDOC encompassing other aspects of fitness for duty, including drug and alcohol testing, was also released for public consultation later in early November 2015.

REGDOC-2.9.1, Environmental Protection

In the fall of 2015, the CNSC will be consulting on a REGDOC for environmental protection. This REGDOC covers environmental assessment (EA) processes, including the process for conducting EAs under the NSCA and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, and how the CNSC will maintain comprehensive and transparent oversight of environmental protection with its regulatory process under the NSCA.

Other nuclear related legislation

Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012

An environmental assessment (EA) is required for designated projects described in the Regulations Designating Physical Activities established under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEA Act 2012). In accordance with provisions of the CEA Act, 2012 the CNSC is responsible for the EA process and decision-making for nuclear projects described in the Regulations.

Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act (NLCA)

The current Nuclear Liability Act (NLA) dates back to 1976, and specifies a liability limit of $75 million for each nuclear installation.

On January 30, 2014 Bill C-22, the Energy Safety and Security Act or "An Act respecting Canada’s offshore oil and gas operations, enacting the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act, repealing the Nuclear Liability Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts", was introduced in Parliament and received Royal Assent on February 26, 2015.

When it comes into force, the NLCA will replace the NLA and increase the liability limit to $1 billion, clarify and broaden the number of categories for which compensation may be sought, and improve the procedures for delivering compensation. The CNSC’s role is to provide advice to the Governor in Council on designation of nuclear facilities for the purpose of establishing liability insurance requirements.

The CNSC has worked closely with Ministry of Natural Resources staff in the development or regulations, which must be finalized before the NLCA can come into force. The draft regulations were published in Canada Gazette, Part I on June 27, 2015 for public comment. The CNSC continues to work with Ministry staff in finalizing the regulations for Governor in Council approval.

Regulatory philosophy

The CNSC’s regulatory program is based on two accountability principles:

  • Those persons and organizations that are subject to the NSCA and associated regulations are directly responsible for ensuring that the regulated activities in which they engage are managed so as to protect the health, safety, and security of Canadians and the environment; as well as ensuring that Canada implements its nuclear international obligations; and
  • The CNSC is responsible to the public for regulating persons and organizations that are subject to the NSCA and associated regulations in order to assure that they are properly discharging their obligations.

This CNSC uses a risk-informed approach to regulating that is focused entirely on protecting the health, safety, and security of Canadians and the environment, as well as ensuring that Canada meets its nuclear international commitments on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Scope of nuclear regulation in Canada

The regulation of nuclear energy and nuclear substances is a federal jurisdiction by virtue of section 71 of the NSCA, which declares nuclear works and undertakings to be for the general advantage of Canada. This derives from the potential health, safety and security concerns associated with the development and use of nuclear energy or nuclear substances which are largely extra-provincial and international in character and implications.

The CNSC is the federal government agency responsible for regulating the development, production and use of nuclear energy and the production, possession and use of nuclear substances, prescribed equipment and prescribed information, in the areas outlined below. The authority to regulate is set out in the NSCA and the specific regulations under this Act.

The scope of regulated activities is extensive and includes:

  • power reactors;
  • non-power reactors;
  • nuclear research and test facilities;
  • uranium mines, mills, processing and fuel fabrication facilities;
  • nuclear substance processing facilities;
  • particle accelerators;
  • waste management facilities;
  • nuclear substances and radiation devices;
  • irradiation equipment;
  • packaging and transportation of nuclear substances;
  • imports and exports of controlled nuclear materials, equipment, technology and information;
  • exports of nuclear related dual-use materials, equipment and technology;
  • cancer treatment (i.e., brachytherapy and teletherapy); and
  • dosimetry service providers.

There are over 1,800 licensees in Canada with over 2,200 licences.

Major regulatory and licensing initiatives

The CNSC is currently conducting several major regulatory and licensing initiatives. The background of each initiative and related issues are provided below.

1. Darlington Refurbishment Project, Clarington, Ontario


  • Ontario Power Generation (OPG) submitted an application in 2014 for refurbishment of its four existing reactors at the Darlington nuclear power plant facility in Clarington, Ontario.
  • The EA for this project was the subject of CNSC public hearings in November 2012 and was approved by the CNSC in March 2013.
  • The Part 1 Commission hearing to consider this application was held on August 19, 2015 in Ottawa and the Part 2 hearing took place in Clarington on November 2–5, 2015. A decision on the application is expected early in 2016.


  • A legal challenge was filed in April 2013 by Greenpeace Canada, the Canadian Environmental Law Association, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Northwatch on the EA decision, alleging that the decision failed to comply with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Federal Court decided against the challenge in November 2014 but the project opponents have appealed that decision. A one-day hearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal is scheduled for December 2, 2015 to decide whether the Court will hear the appeal.
  • Regarding the application for refurbishment, over 250 interventions were filed, both in support and in opposition. Three main topics emerged: the requested licence length (13 years), severe accident scenarios and emergency management.

2. Darlington New Build Project, Clarington, Ontario


  • In October 2009, the Minister of the Environment and the CNSC established a three-member Joint Review Panel to consider the Environmental Assessment (EA) of a proposal by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to construct up to four new reactors at the Darlington nuclear site. The EA hearing took place in March and April of 2011 and the Panel issued its recommendations to the Minister of the Environment on August 25, 2011. The Minister of the Environment approved the project on May 2, 2012.
  • A judicial review of the EA was initiated by Greenpeace, the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and Northwatch (the appellants) in September 2011. In May 2014, the Federal Court found that the EA contained a number of deficiencies and directed that the EA report be returned to the Panel for further consideration of certain issues.
  • On September 10, 2015 the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Federal Court’s ruling and restored the Panel’s decision and approval of the Project.
  • In December 2013, the Ontario Government announced that new nuclear generating projects would be deferred given the forecast of strong electricity supply in Ontario.


  • On November 6, 2015, the appellants filed a notice seeking leave of the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal. The request asks the Court to consider:
    1. What is the proper standard for compliance under the CEAA or other environmental protection legislation? Is it sufficient to require review panels or federal authorities to only give “some consideration” to statutory factors?
    2. What is the proper approach to the application of the reasonableness standard when reviewing an administrative decision that is made in the absence of supporting evidence?
    s.21(1)(a) s.21(1)(b)

3. Post-Fukushima Accident Initiatives


  • On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. The earthquake and the resulting tsunami caused the loss of thousands of lives and half a million homes in Japan. It also caused an accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • In response, the CNSC launched a review of all major nuclear facilities in Canada and established a four-year action plan to strengthen the defences at Canada’s nuclear power plants.
  • This action plan includes measures that improve emergency preparedness and the Canadian nuclear regulatory framework. REGDOC-2.10.1, Nuclear Emergency Preparedness and Response was published in October 2014. This document contains stronger emergency preparedness requirements and guidance that cover all aspects of emergency preparedness. The REGDOC focuses on licensees’ preparations and plans for responding to a nuclear emergency, in order to protect workers, the public and the environment.
  • The CNSC will meet to review the proposed regulatory measures dealing with emergency preparedness on December 16-17, 2015.


  • Severe accident prevention, on-going safety improvements and emergency planning, response and coordination across all levels of government have become the main focus post-Fukushima and are main themes in all CNSC licensing hearings.
  • The CNSC was an active participant in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Comprehensive Report on the Fukushima Daiichi Accident, which was released in June 2015. The CNSC co-chaired Chapter 1 of the report "Description and context of the accident – What happened?".

4. Deep Geologic Repository for Low and Intermediate Level Waste (DGR), Kincardine, Ontario


  • Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has proposed the site preparation, construction and operation of a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station site in the Municipality of Kincardine, Ontario.
  • The DGR will be used for the disposal of low- and intermediate-level operational and refurbishment radioactive wastes from OPG-owned nuclear generating stations at the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington sites in Ontario.
  • A Joint Review Panel (the Panel) was appointed to conduct an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the project. The Panel conducted public hearings from September to October 2013 and in September 2014. Overall there were 25 days of hearings and over 200 interventions.
  • On May 6, 2015 the Panel submitted its EA report for the DGR project to the Minister of the Environment. The Panel agreed with OPG that the DGR is the preferred solution for the long-term management of low- and intermediate-level waste. The Panel concluded that the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account the implementation of the mitigation measures committed to by OPG together with the mitigation measure recommended by the Panel.
  • On June 3, 2015, Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq, under subsection 54(3) of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, extended the time limit for the issuance of the Decision Statement for the proposed DGR project by 90 days (to December 2, 2015).
  • A public comment period took place to receive comments on the potential conditions related to mitigation measures and follow-up requirements if the project is authorized to proceed. The deadline for comments was September 1, 2015. Comments received on the potential conditions are therefore expected to be taken into account by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change in issuing the EA decision.


  • Significant public attention has been focussed on the DGR and is expected to continue.
  • Concern had already been expressed in both Canada and the United States about the potential environmental impacts of this project even prior to the appointment of the DGR Panel and the beginning of the proceedings. These concerns have intensified since the hearings began and continue to the present day.
  • The Minister of the Environment and Climate Change is expected to issue a decision by December 2, 2015, or seek an extension from the Governor in Council. Should the latter option be pursued, you will have the opportunity to play a key role in discussions on this file as nuclear waste policy is within the mandate of Natural Resources Canada.

5. Nuclear Fuel Waste


  • The Government of Canada has accepted the Nuclear Waste Management Organization’s (NWMO) Adaptive Phased Management (APM) approach for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel.
  • The NWMO is currently engaging interested potential host communities as part of the site selection process. Of the 22 communities which originally expressed interest in being considered (19 in Ontario and three in Saskatchewan), nine remain in the selection process (all in Ontario).
  • The CNSC is clarifying its role in the future licensing process to communities when requested, including participating in open-house presentations in many of those communities.


  • Given recent experience with the proposed DGR, the proposed Adaptive Phase Management project for spent fuel, the decommissioning of the Gentilly-2 facility in Quebec and the Pickering nuclear power plant proposed decommissioning in 2020,                                                                                                                                                                                      
    s.21(1)(a) s.21(1)(b)

6. Transport of Highly Enriched Uranium Radioactive Waste

  • Highly Enriched Uranyl Nitrate Liquid (HEUNL) is a liquid by-product of medical isotope production at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) in Chalk River, Ontario. HEUNL derives from a solid form produced in the United States and transported to Canada for use in the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor.
  • In April 2010, Prime Minister Harper and President Obama committed to returning spent HEU fuel to the U.S. as part of a broad international effort to consolidate HEU inventories in fewer locations around the world. The commitment promotes non-proliferation by removing existing weapons-grade material from Canada and eliminates a nuclear liability for future generations of Canadians. Once the material is returned to the U.S. it will be reprocessed and used in American nuclear power plants to produce energy.
  • On July 13, 2015, the CNSC approved an application from NAC International Inc. for the certification of the NAC Legal Weight Truck package design intended for the transport of HEUNL from the CNL facilities in Chalk River to the United States.

7. Quebec Moratorium on Uranium Mining


  • The CNSC granted a licence to Strateco Resources Ltd. in October 2012 for uranium exploration activities in the Matoush region of Quebec. The authorization followed public hearings which took place in Chibougamau and in the Cree community of Mistissini.
  • Subsequent to the CNSC’s decision, Quebec Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet declined to issue the provincial permit necessary to allow Strateco to proceed, and instead in March 2013 requested that the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) examine the environmental and social impacts of uranium mining. In the meantime, Minister Blanchet imposed a temporary uranium mining moratorium pending the outcome of the BAPE’s review.
  • The BAPE began its review in May 2014. The CNSC participated extensively in this process and provided information, both as witnesses at the hearings as well as through supplementary printed documentation, on the human and environmental safety of uranium exploration and mining operations.
  • The BAPE’s report was made public on July 20, 2015 and recommended an extension of the moratorium for an indefinite period, citing insufficient scientific evidence on the safety of uranium mining and the lack of social acceptability in the province.
  • On July 27, 2015, CNSC President Michael Binder wrote to Minister David Heurtel (the current Environment Minister) disputing the BAPE’s findings of insufficient scientific evidence given more than 30 years of safe uranium mining operations in Saskatchewan and urging his government to reject the BAPE’s recommendations.


  • There is significant public opposition to uranium mining in Quebec with more than 300 communities having signed petitions to this effect. In addition, Aboriginal groups (primarily the Cree Nation) are actively opposed to uranium mining.
  • Under CNSC regulation, uranium mining is one of the safest and the most regulated mining activities in Canada. The CNSC will provide the Quebec Government with any information it needs to make its decision on the BAPE report.

8. Kiggavik Uranium Mine Environmental Assessment


  • AREVA Resources Canada Inc. submitted a project proposal in November 2008 to the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) for consideration. In March 2010, the NIRB commenced its Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Kiggavik project and final hearings were held in Baker Lake, Nunavut in March 2015.
  • The NIRB submitted its report with recommendations to Minister Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada on May 8, 2015. The NIRB cited the potential ecosystemic and socio-economic effects of the Kiggavik Project Proposal and concluded that the Project should not proceed at the present time.
  • The NIRB noted that the proponent could not provide certainty with regards to the proposed project start date, but that when it could, it should resubmit its application for consideration.


  • Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of uranium in the world. Uranium mining has been carried out safely in Canada under the CNSC’s regulatory oversight for over 30 years. The CNSC is continuously monitoring the safe operation of these mining facilities to ensure the safety of human health and the environment, based on science-based studies and evaluation. Where it is necessary to impose conditions on a licensee in order to protect the environment, the CNSC monitors the licensee’s compliance with those conditions.
  • The NIRB’s recommendation that the Minister not approve the project was based on social acceptability and disregarded much of the solid scientific evidence that potential environmental impacts can be mitigated through licensing conditions.
    s.21(1)(a) s.21(1)(b)

9. International Priorities – Convention on Nuclear Safety


  • Canada is an active participant in the Convention on Nuclear Safety with the Canadian delegation consisting of representatives from the CNSC, NRCan, DFATD, AECL, Candu Energy Inc. as well as other members of industry and academia.
  • Canada is in full compliance with its obligations under the Convention and has characteristically promoted the view that other members should follow its example in being transparent, inviting peer review missions, publishing reports on the findings of such missions and following up on the recommendations of the review teams.


  • CNSC Executive Vice-President Mr. Ramzi Jammal was recently named to preside (i.e. chair) the 7th Review Meeting of the Convention for 2016, which will provide Canada with the opportunity to play an influential role in the visibility of nuclear safety issues as a major part of global nuclear security.

10. Canada – India Appropriate Agreement


  • In April 2013, the CNSC and India’s Department of Atomic Energy finalized an Appropriate Agreement pursuant to the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of India for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
  • The Agreement will allow Canadian companies to export nuclear items for peaceful uses, in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy and ensure Canadian exports only go to facilities in India under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.


  • The CNSC is part of the Canadian delegation monitoring that India is meeting its obligation under the Agreement. To that end, the CNSC was involved in meetings of the Joint Committee in Mumbai in mid-October 2015.

11. Small Modular Reactors (SMR)


  • The concept behind SMRs is that they are being designed to produce electricity, process heat and/or desalinate water.
  • SMRs should be thought of as smaller reactors with different configurations from conventional reactors.
  • Reactor architecture arrangement can be different from traditional layouts:
    • Fuel arrangements (differences in enrichment, design of fuel assemblies etc.)
    • Integrated vessels (core, pumps, steam generators, pressure control in one container)
    • Increased use of pre-engineered and manufactured modules (from shipbuilding industry).
  • Interest has come from federal departments and provincial governments, northern communities as well as industry in deploying SMRs to help meet emerging energy and heating needs.
  • Industry must lead the discussion but CNSC staff is working to anticipate regulatory questions that need to be resolved.


  • Numerous vendors have expressed their intent to engage the CNSC in Vendor Design Reviews (VDR) in the coming year. One, Terrestrial Energy (a Canadian Molten Salt Reactor Vendor) has recently entered into a VDR agreement with the CNSC. en
  • A VDR is used to:
    • Determine whether the vendor is ready for potential deployment in Canada. A VDR is not a licensing process; it is a technical conversation between the CNSC and the vendor.
    • Help the vendor to engage in discussions with potential future licensees interested in their technology, as well as to identify and address regulatory issues early enough so that delays in licensing and facility construction can be minimized.
  • Officials in your department are monitoring the development of this new technology and it may serve as an important source of carbon emission-free electricity to power mining development sites, replace diesel plants as the electricity source for Northern communities or supplement the grid in provinces with limited choices of additional capacity. The CNSC is actively encouraging potential vendors to begin the regulatory approvals process early.