Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat
Symbol of the Government of Canada

ARCHIVED - RPP 2006-2007
Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission

Warning This page has been archived.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats on the "Contact Us" page.

Section II Analysis by Program Activity

The Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission has a single activity. The Commission's corporate action plan includes five specific plans that address the five priorities, described later in this section.

Strategic Outcome

Trade secret exemptions within WHMIS that balance the right of industry to withhold bona fide confidential business information with the right of employers and workers to be provided with complete and accurate information on the health and safety hazards posed by workplace chemicals.

Program Activity

Claims Exemption Process

Financial Resources ($ thousands)
2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
3,512 3,518 3,518

Human Resources (Full-Time Equivalents)
2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
35 35 35

Under this activity, HMIRC registers claims for exemption received from a supplier or employer who wishes to withhold critical proprietary information, decides on the validity of the claim, adjudicates and issues decisions on the compliance of material safety data sheet or label to which the claim relates, and administers an appeal process to these decisions.

Expected results
  • Protection of valid confidential business information about suppliers' and employers' hazardous products.
  • A mechanism for workers to be informed about the health and safety hazards of exposure to chemicals found in products associated with claims for exemption.
  • A system that resolves disputes in a fair, efficient and cost effective manner.

Key Program

Claims Processing

Financial Resources ($ thousands)
2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
3,336 3,342 3,342

Under this activity, HMIRC registers claims, thereby enabling companies to sell and/or distribute their product while the claim is being processed. Then the validity of the claim for exemption is determined based on the Hazardous Materials Information Review Regulations criteria and the material safety data sheet is evaluated to ensure compliance with WHMIS requirements. Decisions are issued and published in the Canada Gazette.

Expected Results/Outputs Indicators
  • Manufacturers can import, distribute and sell products
  • Registry number assigned
  • number of claims registered
  • number of complaints from suppliers/claimants about delays
  • Published decisions
  • number of published decisions
  • elapsed time between receipt of claim and registration
  • MSDSs comply with legislation
  • Advice documents
  • number of advice documents produced
  • Compliance with orders
  • extent to which claimants have complied with orders within the 75 calendar days allowed

Key Program

Dispute Prevention/Appeals

Financial Resources ($ thousands)
2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
176 176 176

Under this activity, HMIRC administers an appeal process. Claimants have 45 days to launch an appeal once the decision on a claim exemption is published in the Canada Gazette. An independent tripartite board is then convened to hear the appeal and render a decision. We also administer a dispute prevention process that works in conjunction with the appeals process by identifying and resolving problems and complaints, where possible, before an appeal becomes necessary.

Expected Results/Outputs Indicators
  • Resolution of issues raised during the information exchange phase of claims processing (i.e. dispute prevention)
  • number of issues raised and resolved
  • Appeal decisions
  • number of appeals/decisions

To achieve continually improved results throughout our operations, we have identified five specific priorities.


1. Improve services to our clients and stakeholders

We have drawn on our experience and that of companies submitting claims to us to identify focal points for our efforts to enhance service and in the spirit of continuous improvement we will continue this in 2006–2007. Of particular importance is our practice of providing more extensive guidance and direction to claimants, with an emphasis on individuals and companies that are new to Canada's regulatory requirements and WHMIS framework. We will continue to monitor the results of our efforts to determine how well they help to improve the quality and completeness of incoming submissions and therefore, our processing efficiencies.

We will maintain the more extensive mentoring system that was introduced last year for new evaluation and screening staff, which will include training exercises. This will give trainees a more complete understanding of the regulatory requirements, earlier in their careers with us. We will also bring about more efficient and consistent decision making on the part of our staff by revising the screening manual.

A longer-term initiative is our work directed to reintroducing amendments to the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act and its Regulations. These changes will enable the Commission to modernize and streamline existing processes, accelerate decision making and speed up the process of getting complete and accurate information on hazardous materials to employers and workers. In June 2005, Bill S-40, An Act to amend the Hazardous Materials Information Review Act was introduced in the Senate. After hearings by the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, the Bill was given third reading without opposition and with no amendments. Indeed, Senators attending the hearings were impressed with the unprecedented stakeholder support and described the consultation process as a 'shining example of what can be achieved when stakeholders and government work together for the good of all Canadians'. The Bill died on the Order Paper awaiting second reading in the House of Commons upon the dissolution of Parliament last November.

2. Manage the workload

At the beginning of 2003–2004, detailed claim workload estimates were established, covering a six-year period ending in March 2009. These estimates, when tracked against actual figures, will generally demonstrate the degree to which the resourced capacity of the Commission, as currently funded, is able to keep pace with incoming claim-related workload demands.

The claim workload estimates include certain elements over which the Commission has little or no control, such as the numbers of new claims registered, refilings, withdrawals, etc. By contrast, we must be vigilant in regard to the achievement of output estimates, to ensure that our ability to process claims is managed in an effort to match or surpass our estimated workload capacity. With respect to all these elements, we will undertake a comprehensive variance analysis at the conclusion of each fiscal year, and report on the results.

Claim Workload Estimates – 2003–2004 to 2008–2009
  2003–2004 2004–2005 2005–2006 2006–2007 2007–2008 2008–2009
Carry forward 836 789 691 556 441 386
  Estimate Actual Estimate Actual Estimate
New claims 235 283 245 196 245 245 245 245
Refilings 75 56 35 53 90 100 150 200
Subtotal 310 339 280 249 335 345 395 445
Withdrawals 100 161 75 102 70 60 50 50
Claims processed 200 225 300 245 400 400 400 400
Subtotal 300 386 375 347 470 460 450 450
Balance * 846 789 694 691 556 441 386 381

March 31, 2005 

* Indicates the number of claims remaining to be adjudicated.

3. Monitor implementation initiatives under the Globally Harmonized System

Through the new Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), the international community expects to:

  • enhance the protection of humans and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensive system for hazard communication;
  • reduce the need for duplicative testing and evaluation of hazardous chemicals;
  • eliminate the barriers to international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been properly assessed and identified on an international basis;
  • provide a recognized framework for those countries not having an existing system; and
  • promote regulatory efficiency, facilitate compliance, provide better and more consistent information.

The international community has agreed that countries should make the necessary changes to their own legislation and processes to complement the international efforts to make the system operational by 2008. Canada is working toward this goal. While many international GHS issues are being addressed, trade secret protection mechanisms are not intended to be standardized. At present, the means by which trade secret protection and workplace health and safety priorities are balanced differ amongst countries.

The GHS introduction is expected to have a number of impacts on our Commission. These may prove to be relatively minimal or could be fundamental. Therefore, we will continue to work with other government agencies in Canada and with international agencies, to communicate the benefits of the Canadian model that provides trade secret protection while addressing worker health and safety needs. More generally, we will monitor the situation and explore the impact of emerging issues to ensure we understand their implications.

4. Improve the focus on outreach activities and stakeholder liaison

As an organization with a broad stakeholder base and an important mandate, HMIRC is aware of the value of communicating our role to people who deal with workplace health and safety issues. We have developed a communications plan that is directed at people and organizations with a strong interest in WHMIS in workplaces, at the government level and among international agencies. We will continue to act upon this plan in 2006–2007 and respond to any identified gaps by updating the plan and revising our actions. We will continue to attend trade shows and to improve our Web site which is a key communication tool.

As part of our strategy, we will uphold and promote stronger relationships with our health portfolio partners, as well as with other federal departments and agencies. We will also build stronger links to organizations that have WHMIS-related mandates, and we will maintain stakeholder liaison efforts with industry, labour and provincial/territorial OHS agencies and with our industry partners. As a result, we expect to increase awareness of the Commission's role.

5. Enhance management excellence

As a small organization with a limited budget the Commission is highly focused on service delivery and has, over the past number of years, worked hard to develop a coherent, integrated approach to strategic and business planning. This includes working collaboratively with its health portfolio partners, particularly Health Canada, on portfolio and government management issues. As part of its ongoing focus on the effective management of resources to achieve results, the Commission will continue to adopt the principles of the government's Management Accountability Framework in its day to day operations, including the identification of the data necessary to support effective planning.