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.
The Copyright Board of Canada (the "Board") is an economic regulatory body empowered to establish, either mandatorily or at the request of an interested party, the royalties to be paid for the use of copyrighted works, when the administration of such copyright is entrusted to a collective society. Moreover, the Board has the right to supervise agreements between users and licensing bodies, issue licenses when the copyright owner cannot be located and may determine the compensation to be paid by a copyright owner to a user when there is a risk that the coming into force of a new copyright might adversely affect the latter.
In keeping with the mandate, an Interpretation Policy for the Board was developed in adherence with government policies and to ensure information on the Board's regulations is understandable and useful to Canadians.
Plain Language Commitment
The Board is committed to following the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada when drafting regulatory documents, including the requirement to provide plain language information and guidance to Canadians and businesses to ensure that information is clear, relevant, objective, easy to understand and useful to a broad audience. The Board supports plain language regulatory drafting in compliance with the Treasury Board Secretariat's (TBS) Web Writing Style Guide.
The Board uses a number of tools to ensure consistency in regulatory guidance materials and to support the commitment to plain language writing. Examples include: a procedures manual that provides an overview of the Board's legislation, regulations and steps in the regulatory process; technical backgrounders and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in order to facilitate regulatory compliance. In addition, the Board's staff is available to provide guidance on regulatory matters by telephone or email.
The Board typically posts its FAQs regarding new regulations and regulatory amendments on its website to assist stakeholders with complex and technical aspects of regulations. In advance of finalizing new regulations or amendments to existing regulations, the Board holds stakeholder consultations to discuss the impact. In some cases, stakeholders also receive notification emails as soon as the regulations are pre-published in the Canada Gazette, providing plain language explanations of the intent and rationale for proposed regulatory changes, clause-by-clause. This supports informed public commentary during the consultation periods.
Providing Guidance and Building Awareness
The Board uses various tools to proactively build stakeholder awareness of its requirements and regulatory guidance material. Examples include:
Responding to Questions
Service standards for acknowledging and responding to regulatory enquiries from the public
Public enquiries to the Board on regulations can be made through various channels: phone calls, letters and emails. The Board commits to responding to inquiries in a timely manner. Response time can vary (24 hrs to 15 days) depending on the scope of the enquiry. Generally, the Board responds to 90% of public requests for information on regulations made via telephone or voice mail within 24 hours of receipt. In cases where the service standards cannot be met because additional information is required to provide a response, the caller is so informed within the 24 hour period. Responses to posted mail inquires occurs within 5 days of their receipt. Requests for documentation may take between 48 hours and 15 business days. Reoccurring enquiries will be responded to through FAQs. To improve the quality and consistency in responses, checks in are conducted with stakeholders on the Board's interpretation policies, practices, and tools and response rates are tracked to identify improvements.
The Board is committed to excellence in service delivery. The Board's staff is expected to adhere to the department's Values and Ethics Code (Copyright Board of Canada Values and Ethics Code) and respect the Treasury Board's Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector. Outcomes of service delivery are reported on in the Board's Departmental Performance Report, when applicable.
Consultations are the most formal approach for responding to regulatory issues and complaints. Mechanisms used to respond to these issues and complaints include: complaint files, consultations and emails.
Because of the small size of the Board, it does not have dedicated regulations specialists. It, therefore, works closely with the Treasury Board Secretariat, Industry Canada and Justice Canada for guidance on regulatory issues. The Board's Legal Services are able to respond to most questions.
Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement
The Board publishes draft regulations for public consultation in Part 1 of the Canada Gazette, to be consistent with the requirements of the Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management. The comments received during the consultation period are reviewed by the Board's staff and addressed as part of the final regulatory package prepared for Treasury Board considerations, as required, before publication in Part II of the Canada Gazette.
Stakeholder Engagement Practices
Mechanisms used to engage stakeholders may also include formal on line consultations.
The Board will monitor the implementation of its Interpretation Policy for Regulations.
Consultation with stakeholders on current interpretation practices will be ongoing as required. After stakeholder consultations were completed in 2014-2015, the Board received comments from one stakeholder. These comments were not specific to the Board's interpretation practices. As a result, there is currently no baseline on which to establish improvement metrics, nor are there any improvement priorities.
Performance and potential improvements will be assessed regularly as requests are received.
A progress report on the implementation of this policy and areas identified for improvement will be released by March 31, 2017.
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