Table of contents
- Executive summary
- Consultation approach
- Stakeholder feedback on legislative proposals
- 1.0 Reducing barriers for business
- 2.0 Protecting consumers
- 3.0 Delivering services effectively
Measurement Canada (MC) published a legislative visioning paper in February 2023 that outlined its plan to modernize the Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act (collectively referred to as "the Acts" in this document). Entitled Moving towards a more flexible and agile legislative framework for trade measurement, the paper presented a series of legislative proposals to amend the two laws governing trade measurement in Canada as they have not been substantially updated in more than 40 years.
On February 8, 2023, MC launched a public consultation on its proposed legislative amendments. MC promoted its legislative visioning paper through an outreach campaign that included social media and messages encouraging stakeholders and interested parties to participate in the consultation. Stakeholders had previously pressed MC to modernize the two pieces of legislation and the majority of respondents to the consultation were positive and cautiously optimistic about the vision for modern trade measurement legislation and the related proposals.
Respondents welcomed plans to improve the Acts and to introduce greater flexibility in order to support innovation and modern and digital business practices. There was strong support for proposals that promote graduated compliance approaches, updated powers for inspectors and reduced barriers for businesses and technology to enter the market. Respondents supported the vision for Acts that are outcome-based, agile and technology-neutral. These views supported the broad themes presented in MC's original visioning paper.
This report summarizes the feedback received from external stakeholders during the consultation period. MC will evaluate all of the feedback received during this consultation as it finalizes its proposals and will submit them for Parliament's consideration through the legislative approval process.
Measurement Canada (MC) published its legislative visioning paper in February 2023. The paper entitled Moving towards a more flexible and agile legislative framework for trade measurement, outlined MC's plan to modernize the Weights and Measures Act and the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act.
The Acts have not been substantively updated since they were enacted in 1970 and 1980 respectively. These legislative frameworks have served Canada well, but have not kept pace with the change of business practices and technology. The supporting regulations are prescriptive and support a compliance and enforcement model that is not sustainable.
Amendments to the Acts are required in light of the federal government's continued priorities of delivering results for Canadians and reducing regulatory barriers to innovation, as well as its commitments to a green economy and investing in clean fuels. MC has heard from industry on these issues and there is a consensus between the government and many other stakeholders that modernization efforts are essential to Canada's future. Therefore, on February 8, 2023, MC launched a public consultation on its proposed legislative amendments outlined in its legislative visioning paper.
This report summarizes external stakeholder feedback collected from February to March 2023 on proposed amendments to the Acts. The opinions expressed in this report do not reflect the view of Measurement Canada, nor do they indicate that the Acts will be amended to reflect the feedback received. However, all feedback will be carefully considered when MC finalizes its proposals. Some of the issues that stakeholders raised focussed on regulations and, while out of the scope of this consultation, were nevertheless captured to be addressed appropriately at a future date and opportunity.
MC promoted its visioning paper through an outreach campaign that included:
- announcing the consultation on the Government of Canada's Consulting with Canadians web page;
- sending an email to targeted national and international stakeholders;
- publishing social media messages through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's (ISED) business accounts; and
- using MC mailing list to solicit stakeholder participation.
Most of the comments received were from electricity and gas sector stakeholders but MC also received feedback from national and provincial industry associations along with authorized service providers (ASPs). Members of academia, consumer associations, federal partners and international governments also commented on the proposed legislative amendments.
Stakeholder feedback on legislative proposals
Stakeholders responded to the proposed legislative amendments that are organized in three key themes in MC's legislative visioning paper:
- Reducing barriers for business
- Protecting consumers
- Delivering services effectively
1.0 Reducing barriers for business
The legislative amendments proposed by MC under this theme aim to reduce barriers for businesses, support innovation by facilitating the adoption of technology in the Canadian market and enhance competitiveness.
The comments that were received are summarized below.
1.1 Creating a forward looking framework for small businesses
The current requirements under the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act (EGIA) for those who sell electricity and gas (referred to as "contractors" in the EGIA) are onerous and may be preventing new businesses from entering the market.
Industry stakeholders supported MC proposals to create scalable and flexible exemptions to these contractor requirements for those whose core business is not the sale of electricity or gas, subject to conditions. Their support, however, came with the recommendation that exemptions should be based on a predetermined and accepted level of risk. Most respondents acknowledged that exemptions for smaller and casual sellers would necessitate different levels of regulatory oversight, and they expressed a desire that all businesses would adhere to consistent rules and standards.
1.2 Influencing compliance with fairness in mind
Stakeholders supported MC proposals for more graduated enforcement approaches, particularly where regulated parties could more easily enter into a compliance agreement with MC.
1.3 Testing new technology in markets
Industry stakeholders supported MC proposals to help facilitate the entry of new measuring devices and technology into the market without prior approval or initial inspection, verification and sealing. Reducing this barrier to enter the market would help accelerate the introduction of clean fuel measurement technology and help electricity and natural gas industries support the Government of Canada's net-zero emission targets. Stakeholders suggested expanding or clarifying temporary permissions to include device modifications such as firmware updates to improve network telecommunications. Stakeholders also suggested that expanding the definition of a meter could create more flexibility.
1.4 Dispute resolution
Stakeholders supported MC proposals to clarify its role under both Acts when investigating complaints or disputes, arguing that this will help draw clear lines between itself and provincial or territorial jurisdictions.
Industry and consumer stakeholders expressed hope that complaints and disputes would be handled fairly for all buyers and sellers and that no exemption should be given to small or casual businesses.
2.0 Protecting consumers
MC protects buyers and sellers by approving and inspecting measuring devices, enforcing the laws related to measurement accuracy and investigating complaints of suspected inaccurate measurement. To adapt to modern business practices and evolving consumer needs, MC proposed a series of legislative amendments to expand and clarify inspector powers so that they are up to date with other organizations, aligned across the Acts where possible, and reflect modern business practices.
The comments that were received are summarized below.
2.1 Remote location and hybrid business practices
It is a challenge for MC to carry out its mandate of ensuring a fair and competitive marketplace in remote areas of Canada because businesses operating in these areas often have limited access to inspection services.
All respondents supported proposals for MC inspectors to obtain telewarrants when necessary, to potentially use telecommunications in order to complete virtual inspections in remote areas of Canada or places with limited access; as well as to expand the concept of "normal business hours" under the EGIA. Industry stakeholders supported the proposal to authorize remote or virtual inspections but recommended that limits be placed on the digital information or equipment that can be accessed.
Industry stakeholders supported MC proposals that would authorize inspectors to request information and samples of devices. Respondents agreed but emphasized that there must be continued safeguards around the information that MC collects to protect the privacy of the parties involved.
2.3 Fostering stronger relations with regulated parties
Stakeholders supported MC proposals requiring inspectors under the EGIA to carry proof of designation as a government inspector. They caution; however, that small business and new market participants are often unaware of MC and its mandate and may be at risk of manipulation by persons using counterfeit identification or designation cards to pose as inspectors or ASPs.
2.4 Additional legislative proposals for greater consumer protection
Stakeholders supported MC proposals to authorize inspectors to seize and detain meters, and to enter any place or conveyance to verify compliance with the Acts and prevent any non-compliance. Some respondents suggested that the power to seize and detain meters should not apply to meters that are used to supply the essential energy needs of consumers.
3.0 Delivering services effectively
The Acts contain several overly prescriptive, unclear and outdated provisions that prevent MC from conducting business as effectively as possible. The proposed legislative amendments seek to strengthen relationships with ASPs, recognize standards from international organizations and authorized competent laboratories, and update certain administrative and operational authorities.
The comments that were received are summarized below.
3.1 Strengthening relationships with authorized service providers
Stakeholders did not raise any concerns about MC's proposals for providing additional tools and greater flexibility or clarity to help manage relationships with ASPs, such giving MC the authority to cancel, revoke, suspended or not renew an accreditation, as necessary. Respondents trust that MC will continue to ensure that ASPs are qualified to complete their work and audited to maintain their accreditation.
3.2 Recognizing international standards and competent authorities
Stakeholders supported proposals to clarify and expand MC authority that would ensure traceability to internationally recognized measurement standards. Industry respondents acknowledged that traceability was important and expressed support for anything that could reduce approval times so that new measuring devices and technology could enter the market even more quickly. This included, for example, increasing MC's use of test data from manufacturers and expanding its list of recognized laboratories.
3.3 Modernizing administrative and operational authorities
Most stakeholders supported proposals for removing prescriptive elements, such as the Schedules from the Acts and instead providing the authority to incorporate documents by reference into regulations where possible. Despite the legality of the mechanism and, provided the authority exists to do so, some stakeholders remained cautious. Respondents from a consumer association flagged that such documents would need to be reviewed regularly and kept current.
Industry stakeholders supported MC proposals to expand authorities to support digital business practices, for example using remote access to review electronic records. They recommended that MC recognize digital seals to facilitate virtual inspections and audits but that MC not increase their frequency simply because they would be easier to conduct.
Stakeholders want legislation that is easier to understand, and they supported MC proposals to review the Acts for outdated and exclusive language, as well as remove obsolete provisions deemed irrelevant in this day and age.
MC thanks all parties who took the time to provide feedback and share their interest in the proposed legislative amendments to modernize the Acts. MC is committed to enabling innovation and ensuring a fair and competitive marketplace for Canadians and will consider all the feedback received during this consultation as it moves the proposals through the legislative process and ultimately to Parliament for consideration.