Interpretation Policy

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

Departmental Context

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulates all nuclear activity in Canada – from uranium mining to power generation, nuclear research, industrial and medical applications of nuclear substances, and waste disposal. The CNSC is committed to providing clear and up-to-date information to help stakeholders understand their regulatory obligations. This policy describes the CNSC’s commitments in the areas of predictability, service, stakeholder engagement, and improvement. It applies to all CNSC-regulated facilities and activities.


Plain Language Commitment

The CNSC is committed to providing Canadians with clear information, written in plain language whenever possible.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

The CNSC clarifies its expectations and provides guidance on how to meet regulatory requirements in regulatory documents, licence application guides, fact sheets, frequently asked questions, and other documents. All CNSC regulatory documents are organized (by facility and activity, safety and control areas, and other areas of regulatory interest) in a framework that gives access to all applicable CNSC regulatory expectations. Drafts of new or revised regulatory documents are made available for review and comment by stakeholders, thereby helping to ensure they contain clear information. The CNSC has also developed Frequently Asked Questions about its regulations.

Responding to Questions

The CNSC strives to respond to stakeholder questions about regulatory requirements in a timely, accurate and helpful manner. Responses are generally given in the same form as inquiries are made, whether verbally or in writing.

Stakeholders who submit a question to the CNSC will receive an acknowledgement of their request, including a response to basic questions, within two business days. The CNSC will endeavour to provide an answer to more detailed questions within 10 business days.


Service Commitment

The CNSC is committed to delivering professional, courteous responses to stakeholder inquiries about how to meet regulatory requirements. Service is a key component of the CNSC Values and Ethics Code.

Service Accountability

If stakeholders are not satisfied with the CNSC’s guidance on how to meet their regulatory obligations, they should begin by contacting the manager of the division responsible for their licence or issue. If the matter remains unresolved, stakeholders may ask to have the matter referred to the responsible director general.

Staff Training

The CNSC’s Inspector Training and Qualification Program supports the CNSC’s consistent approach to compliance and enforcement by providing the same training to all inspectors within a service line. CNSC staff also use formal work instructions while conducting technical reviews to guide the consistent interpretation and application of regulatory requirements.

Stakeholder Engagement

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

The CNSC is committed to meaningful engagement with stakeholders throughout the development and implementation of its regulations and regulatory documents.

Stakeholder Engagement Practices

Consultation with the public, licensees and other stakeholders is an integral component of developing the CNSC’s regulatory framework. The CNSC holds public consultations to seek input on its new or updated regulatory documents. Meetings and workshops may also be organized to engage stakeholders and solicit feedback on the development of regulatory policies and guidance. Stakeholders also have the opportunity to be heard at public Commission hearings when new or amended regulations, or regulatory documents are being discussed. When the CNSC proposes to exercise its authority in a new area or in a new way, discussion papers are used to engage stakeholders early on. The CNSC also participates regularly in outreach sessions, workshops, conferences and meetings that provide opportunities to clarify requirements for licensees and to respond to questions and concerns.

The CNSC notifies stakeholders of consultation opportunities through its email distribution list, website, Facebook page, and documents that are posted on the Consulting with Canadians website.

The CNSC has a five-year regulatory framework plan that informs stakeholders of when it plans to review its regulations and regulatory documents. These reviews offer formal consultation opportunities, but the CNSC also welcomes feedback at any time.


Upon publishing its Interpretation Policy on January 6, 2015, the CNSC asked stakeholders to provide feedback on its current interpretation practices. The comments received indicate that stakeholders are satisfied that the CNSC has timely, useful mechanisms for clarifying its regulatory expectations or requirements. Licensees consider it important that the CNSC continue to communicate on an ongoing basis and to provide timely information when changing regulatory requirements.

As part of the CNSC’s ongoing effort to improve its stakeholder engagement, clarity and overall interpretation practices, the following improvement initiatives have been identified. An update on the outcomes of these initiatives will be available by March 31, 2017.

Initiative Deliverables

The CNSC’s Regulatory Framework Plan lists the regulations and regulatory documents that it plans to develop or amend.

The CNSC commits to consulting with external stakeholders on its Regulatory Framework Plan. This will provide licensees and other stakeholders with an opportunity to provide input on the CNSC’s priority projects.

Hold consultation with external stakeholders in 2016.

Revised plan published online by December 2016.

CNSC 101 sessions help stakeholders learn about the CNSC and its work to ensure that Canadian nuclear facilities and activities are safe.  In addition, they describe how to become involved in the hearing process.

The CNSC will continue to deliver this outreach program to clarify how it regulates the Canadian nuclear industry and to build trust in the regulator.

The CNSC welcomes requests from stakeholders for presentations in their communities.

The CNSC will hold at least five CNSC 101 presentations per year in 2015 and 2016.

The CNSC is working on standardizing licence conditions by facility and use type. Previously, licence conditions could vary in wording, creating possible uncertainty among licensees. Standardized licence conditions will improve clarity and consistency of CNSC expectations or requirements in licences.

Inclusion of standardized conditions when amending licences of Class I facilities and Uranium Mines and Mills.

For more information

To learn about upcoming or ongoing consultations on proposed federal regulations, visit the Canada Gazette and Consulting with Canadians Web sites.