Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
An interpretation policy is an overarching document that outlines the commitments, practices, and tools to be applied by a department or agency when providing Canadians and businesses with information and guidance on regulatory obligations to be met. It also identifies the conditions under which written responses to questions will be provided.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) was created to contribute to public confidence in the Canadian financial system. OSFI’s legislated mandate is to:
The above mandate is carried out with due regard to the need to allow institutions to compete effectively and take reasonable risks.
This interpretation policy applies to interpretations provided to stakeholders in respect of regulations administered by OSFI that are made under legislation governing federally regulated financial institutions and pension plans.
Plain Language commitment
OSFI is committed to providing regulatory interpretations that are clear, unambiguous and relevant to the enquiry. OSFI will provide responses to regulatory questions in the official language in which the question was posed.
Providing Guidance and Building Awareness
OSFI promotes stakeholder involvement in a number of ways in order to build awareness and ensure consistent internal and external communication of regulatory compliance requirements. Measures include:
Responding to Questions
OSFI responds to two forms of requests for regulatory interpretations, described below.
1. General regulatory questions:
Stakeholders having questions of a general nature on a regulation that is administered by OSFI may contact OSFI by telephone, by mail, or by e-mail.
OSFI generally responds to questions in the same method used by the stakeholder to contact us, unless a response using a different means was requested (such as in writing). Prior to responding to such enquiries, OSFI may seek additional information from stakeholders.
2. Requests for ruling:
Stakeholders may seek a more formal interpretation in the form of a ruling to obtain OSFI’s views in writing regarding the application or interpretation of specific provisions of regulations under the federal financial institution statutes.
Requests for rulings are subject to a service charge and are processed in accordance with the OSFI Service Standards.
Ruling requests must be submitted in writing and should be addressed to:
Director, Precedents Unit
Legislation and Approvals Division
255 Albert Street
OSFI adheres to the Government of Canada Communications Policy which includes a commitment to deliver prompt, courteous and responsive service that is sensitive to the needs and concerns of the public and respectful of individual rights.
OSFI has also adopted a Statement of Values and Code of Conduct to guide how it conducts its business. The following values and behaviours are recognized and considered essential to the success of the organization:
OSFI is committed to providing a level of service that meets the expectations of our stakeholders. OSFI maintains an enquiries service (telephone, e-mail, letter mail and fax) that receives enquiries and responds to stakeholder questions or concerns. The enquiries service employs an electronic database that tracks stakeholder contact and ensures that all questions or comments receive a response when required. Where the enquiries service cannot itself respond due to the nature of the subject matter, the service will consult with appropriate individuals within the organization to ensure action is taken or a response provided, as necessary.
OSFI is committed to ensuring that staff have the necessary skills and technical knowledge to provide accurate and consistent responses to regulatory questions. Internal procedures and reference materials have been developed for this purpose.
Commitment to Stakeholder Engagement
OSFI is committed to engaging stakeholders, as appropriate, when developing, reviewing or refining practices and materials pertaining to regulatory guidance. OSFI routinely undertakes consultations with the industry on regulatory guidance.
Stakeholder Engagement Practices
Stakeholders are engaged through a number of means, including:
OSFI is committed to continually improving its level of service with respect to the provision of regulatory interpretations to core stakeholders (i.e., federally regulated financial institutions and pension plans).
2014 - 2015
Earlier this year, OSFI engaged in a consultation with industry stakeholders to identify any areas in need of improvement with respect to interpretation practices. On March 25, 2015, OSFI released the results of its Regulation Interpretation Stakeholder Consultation that identified two areas for improvement, including the publication of service delivery standards in relation to enquiries and the implementation of a client feedback process to assess satisfaction with OSFI’s handling of enquiries.
2015 - 2017
During this period, OSFI took steps to implement improvements identified as a result of the stakeholder consultation. OSFI will continue to monitor its performance in this area and make any additional improvements, as appropriate. A summary of steps taken and results can be found in the Regulation Interpretation Update on Improvement Priorities.