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External Advisory Committee on Smart Regulation (EACSR)

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Risk Management

The EACSR has chosen to examine the role of risk management in the development and implementation of regulation, with a specific focus on science-based approaches in a rapidly changing regulatory environment. The overall objective of health, safety, and environmental regulation is to proactively protect Canadians from threats to health and safety and to protect Canada's natural environment. To this end, risk management is essential.

The Government of Canada can earn the trust of Canadians by delivering a high level of health, safety, and environmental protection and by ensuring a fair, efficient marketplace. In situations of uncertainty, risk management (including risk identification, management and communication) plays an essential role in building public trust and business confidence in the Canadian market and regulatory system. Trust and confidence, in turn, can lead to improved competitiveness and incentives for investment.

At the same time, evolving science generates a continuous discovery of new sources of risk across the globe. There is also a greater public sensitivity to these risks than in the past, driven by recent events such as threats to the safety of Canada's blood supply in the late 1990s, West Nile Virus in North America, the British and Canadian experience with BSE, and Canadian experience with contaminated drinking water. In all cases, it is necessary to balance and weigh the consequences of sources of risk against another, which puts pressure on Canada's capacity to manage risk. A key objective, therefore, will be to achieve an optimal level of risk management capacity by drawing on technology, information sharing and international regulatory cooperation.

The EACSR is particularly interested in developing an understanding of how risk management in the 21st century can lead to greater levels of public trust in Canadian products, services, markets and government institutions, greater efficiency and flexibility in the regulatory system, and higher levels of innovation. It is also interested in recommendations on how Canada can improve the nets benefits of regulation by using new approaches to risk management.

Areas for discussion:

  1. How can risk management best serve as a tool to respond to the demands of a knowledge-based economy and society, particularly with respect to:

    • Trust in Canadian products, services, regulation and markets;

    • The protection of human and animal health, human safety, and the environment;

    • The rapid commercialization of scientific and technological discoveries?

  2. How and on what basis should government determine what society's chosen level of protection against risk should be, taking into account scientific assessments, risk-risk trade-offs, and continuously evolving citizens' views?

  3. How and when should government communicate with the public about risk?

  4. How can Canada enhance its risk management capacity, particularly with respect to reliable access to the best and most current state of science (eg, drawing on the expertise held by non-governmental partners, international organizations etc.)?

  5. How should the government engage in international cooperation on issues that relate to risk management and regulation?


Background Material

The EACSR has commissioned a number of external advisory opinions and papers that will be made available through this web site for public review and comment. All such opinions remain those of the individual authors and do not reflect the position of the Government of Canada.

Last Modified:  9/22/2004

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