Standards Council of Canada
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is a federal Crown corporation with the mandate to promote voluntary standardization in Canada, where standardization is not expressly provided for by law. Located in Ottawa, Ontario, SCC has a governing council of as many as 13 members and a staff of approximately 100. The organization reports to Parliament through the Minister of Industry.
Canada's national standardization network
SCC has the mandate to coordinate and oversee the efforts of Canada's national standardization network, which includes organizations and individuals involved in voluntary standards development, promotion, and implementation in Canada.
More than 12,500 Canadian members contribute to committees that develop national or international standards. As well, more than 400 organizations have been accredited by the SCC. Some of these develop standards, others are conformity assessment bodies which determine the compliance of products or services to a standard's requirements.
Appointed by the federal government, SCC's governing Council is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the organization. The Council also ensures the fulfillment of SCC's mandate, and provides guidance on governance matters. In addition, the Council works closely with SCC's management in the development of policy items and provides advice on SCC's strategic direction. This work includes: accreditation of standards development and conformity assessment organizations; approval of standards submitted as National Standards of Canada (NSCs); adoption of relevant policies to support SCC programs and services; and approval of budgets and audited financial statements.
In 1964, the federal government conducted a comprehensive review of standards activity in Canada. The study identified a number of deficiencies in the country's approach to standardization, including coordination and long-term planning, support from industry and government, and Canadian involvement in international standardization.
In 1970, the government responded by establishing the Standards Council of Canada through the Standards Council of Canada Act, which received Royal Assent in the same year. Two years later, the SCC held a seat on the International Organization for Standardization’s governing Council.
Accreditation Services Branch
SCC’s Accreditation Services branch accredits conformity assessment bodies, such as testing laboratories and product certification bodies, to internationally recognized standards. Conformity assessment is the practice of determining whether a product, service or system meets the requirements of a particular standard.
The organization operates accreditation and recognition programs for the following:
- Calibration and testing laboratories
- Good laboratory practice
- Greenhouse gas validators and verifiers
- Inspection bodies
- Management systems certification bodies
- Medical laboratories
- Personnel certification bodies
- Product and service certification bodies
- Proficiency testing providers
- Standards developing organizations (SDOs)
SCC is also a member of a number of organizations that have mutual recognition agreements in place to assist with international acceptance of conformity assessment results. These agreements are part of greater efforts to form a global accreditation system, consistent with the goal of “one standard, one test — accepted everywhere.”
Policy and Stakeholder Relations Branch
The Policy and Stakeholder Relations (PSR) Branch conducts strategic outreach and engagement of those stakeholders with the greatest potential influence and impact on standardization in Canada.
In its direction of the SCC member program and relevant advisory committees, the branch provides orientation and support to Canadian standardization experts. PSR also coordinates business development activities, training and capacity building initiatives, and manages the sale of standards, collections and related information/education products.
Through its analysis of trends and conditions of significance to standardization-related work, the PSR branch is able to identify and define the necessary conditions for Canada to optimize its use of standardization; facilitate the development of roadmaps in support of targeted economic areas; and make recommendations that influence standards and conformity assessment related aspects of trade and regulatory policy.
Standardization is the development and application of standards. Standards are publications that establish accepted practices, technical requirements and terminologies for products, services and systems. Standards help to ensure better, safer and more efficient methods and products, and are an essential element of technology, innovation and trade.
Standards are developed through consensus by committees of affected stakeholders that may include representatives from industry, government, academia and the public interest. These committees are established and managed by an organization that specializes in the development of standards.
Most standards are voluntary—there are no laws requiring their application. However, an increasingly competitive marketplace for goods and services means that more and more customers are demanding adherence to specific standards. Governments also make some standards mandatory by referencing them legislatively or through regulations.
SCC accredits organizations that develop standards in Canada. Accreditation is the verification that an organization has the competence necessary to carry out a specific function. SCC's accreditation programs are based on internationally recognized guidelines and standards. SCC accredits Canadian standards development organizations and also approves Canadian standards as National Standards of Canada, based on a specific set of requirements.
The Role of Standards Branch
SCC does not develop standards itself. It plays the role of coordinating standards work in Canada and ensuring Canada's input on standards issues within international standards organizations.
SCC's Standards branch is organized into three sections: Canadian Standards Development, International Standards Development and Global Standards Governance. The branch carries out a variety of functions intended to ensure the effective and coordinated operation of standardization in Canada.
The branch also represents Canada's interests in standards-related matters in foreign and international forums. As well, SCC's Standards branch manages Canadian participation in the standards development initiatives of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) — two of the world's largest voluntary standardization bodies — as well as participation in regional standards organizations.
A catalogue of all Standards Council of Canada (SCC) publications can be found on its corporate website, including various brochures, fact sheets, studies and reports on standardization-related topics.