Transport Canada - Regulatory Interpretation Policy


This Policy outlines the commitments, practices, and tools relevant to Transport Canada (TC) when providing the Canadian public and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations, including the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.

Departmental Context

Transport Canada serves the public interest through a legislative framework that promotes a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada.  To this effect, TC has developed compliance and enforcement strategies and tools, including this Interpretation Policy, to encourage consistent application of rules and regulations by TC officials, and to facilitate compliance by stakeholders.


Plain Language Commitment

Transport Canada commits to:

  • using plain and clear language when developing regulatory guidance;
  • developing and linking online Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the department's 10 most accessed regulations on TC's Acts and regulations web page; and
  • developing FAQs whenever new regulatory initiatives with an impact on business are proposed.

Providing Guidance and Building Awareness

Transport Canada regularly reaches out to stakeholders to build awareness and understanding of regulatory requirements via a variety of tools, including consultations and posting of guidance and information materials online. Examples include:

  • Civil Aviation's Online Reference Centre:

    The Online Reference Centre includes advisory circulars, safety alerts, instructions, and links to information on TC Civil Aviation's regulations and upcoming consultations.

This includes guidance materials related to marine safety. Examples include:

  1. Safe Boating Guide – a guidance tool on safe boating practices and applicable regulations available on-line for the Canadian public;
  2. Local Authority Guide – a guidance/information tool for local authorities when considering applying for a restriction under the Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations;
  3. Marine Safety & Security 1-800 enquiry line;
  4. Marine Safety & Security general email "Contact Us" enquiry line;
  5. Partnering with national associations, provincial, municipal, local governments as well as first nations, and law enforcement partners; and,
  6. Regular consultative opportunities through regional and national level Canadian Marine Advisory Council meetings and Recreational Boating Advisory Council meetings.

Rail Safety:

  • Rail Safety's online references include frequently asked questions, publications, information on railway safety regulations, rules and standards, Transport Canada enforcement actions and measures to mitigate threats to railway safety, and contact information.
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods Awareness Materials and FAQ:
    The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate develops various materials to raise awareness on important issues involving the transportation of dangerous goods. The material is used to communicate useful information, clarify requirements, and answer regulatory questions. These awareness documents are intended for use by the regulated, response and enforcement communities, as well as industry and the general public. In addition, the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Directorate releases twice a year a Newsletter to inform Canadians on regulatory issues. The Newsletter is available upon request and distributed free of charge to more than 23,000 readers in Canada and abroad.

Additionally, resources can also be found on TC's website that provides guidance and clarification on compliance with specific legislative requirements. TC has developed the following compliance and enforcement policies in support of its mandate. These policies also serve to develop clear and enforceable regulations in a collaborative manner and by responding to stakeholder questions in a consistent and predictable way. Examples include:

Responding to Questions

Transport Canada is committed to issuing timely, accurate and helpful responses to specific enquiries from stakeholders. TC will respond to these inquiries using the same communication method used by the inquiring party. 


Service Commitment

Transport Canada pledges to serve with respect and courtesy; offer accurate, timely and helpful service; and address requests quickly and effectively.

Transport Canada made a commitment through its Service Charter to provide quality service to clients, companies, government departments, local government, interest groups and individuals. The Service Charter applies to all services the department offers.

Service Accountability

In addressing challenges where service and/or guidance could be improved, TC has recently developed documents that support and strengthen internal consistency (e.g., the TC Directive on Safety and Security Oversight) to enhance existing internal mechanisms to deliver a more consistent, clear, effective and measurable service to Canadians. Transport Canada encourages stakeholders to request assistance to their issues by contacting either an identified departmental representative or by calling a communications center or the nearest enforcement office, as applicable.

Staff Training

Through programs such as the Service Improvement Team Strategy, the department will continue to support its staff by providing the necessary training to deliver high quality, professional services while providing information on regulatory requirements.

Stakeholder Engagement

Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement

Transport Canada pledges to engage stakeholders, as appropriate, when developing, reviewing or refining practices and materials for providing information and guidance on regulatory compliance and answering questions.

Stakeholder Engagement Practices

Transport Canada will continue to use consultation mechanisms such as advisory groups to engage stakeholders in the development and review of regulatory information and guidance. Examples include:

  1. Canadian Aviation Regulatory Advisory Council

    This Advisory Council has been part of the TC civil aviation rulemaking process since 1993 and comprises members of the aviation community and government. It assesses and recommends potential regulatory changes through cooperative rulemaking activities.

  2. Advisory Council on Railway Safety

    The Advisory Council on Railway Safety was created to provide a forum for the development and assessment of changes to the Railway Safety Act regulatory framework through collaborative activities and discussions on railway safety issues. The Advisory Council deals with regulations and rules that affect operations nationally (e.g., all regulations developed by Transport Canada, and all rules developed by the industry).  It may also discuss railway safety issues of a strategic nature.

  3. Canadian Marine Advisory Council

    The Canadian Marine Advisory Council is Transport Canada's national consultative body for marine matters. Participants include representatives of individuals and parties that have a recognized interest in boating and shipping concerning safety, recreational matters, navigation, marine pollution and response and marine security.


Transport Canada commits to:

  1. check in with stakeholders in 2014-15 and ask for feedback on current consultation practices;
  2. identify areas where improvement can be made, as well as metrics for evaluating their implementation by March 31, 2015; and
  3. implement these improvements over two years and then update Canadians on performance in implementing these improvements by March 31, 2017.

Related Reports

Frequently Asked Questions FAQ

The FAQs below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with basic information about Transport Canada's 10 most accessed regulations.