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Canada’s leadership on the world stage

November 30, 2020

Canada’s leadership on the world stage

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For 50 years, SCC has been Canada’s respected voice and advisor for standards and accreditation on the world stage, representing Canada’s interest in a way no other organization can. Standards are the cornerstone of the global marketplace. They are the invisible infrastructure that allows countries to trade based on a shared understanding of industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Without them, key players such as health organizations, small businesses and multinational corporations would face disruptions in the free flow of goods and services, as well as barriers to innovation.

Our people’s expertise, and long-standing reputation help position SCC as one of the most recognized and respected voices in the international standards and accreditation communities. As the Canadian member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), we provide Canadians with a gateway to international standards development and conformity assessment. Along with other multilateral arrangements and partnerships, this has driven advances in global standards development and accreditation, giving Canadian businesses a foothold in established and emerging industries.

It is estimated that standards influence 80% of global trade[i]. Standards and accreditation are especially vital to the Canadian economy as it impacts at least 10% of our GDP. National standards bodies, like SCC, play a key role in advancing their country’s priorities by shaping standards and voicing their interests at international and regional negotiating tables. For example, countries are working hard to embed their intellectual property within the standardization ecosystem. In doing that, it allows innovators to become integrated in standards-setting and ensure new standards reference their technologies. SCC supports innovation to ensure that Canadian companies leverage standardization strategies to commercialize, access new markets and compete in the global economy.

Amplifying Canada’s international voice for standards development

As the leader of Canada’s standardization network, SCC elevates Canada’s priorities and international influence. We support our community of technical experts who represent Canada and contribute significantly to international committees that develop standards. SCC also takes on leadership positions at the governance and technical levels of influential standards organizations, such as ISO and IEC. Just for those two organizations alone, Canada holds 204 leadership roles on technical committees, including positions such as international Chair, Secretary and Convenor. For example, Chairs for high-profile committees ISO/TC 207 Environmental management (Sheila Leggett) and ISO/TC 176 Quality management and quality assurance (Jeffrey Hunt) are Canadian. The President of the Canadian National Committee of IEC (CANC/IEC), Colin Clark, sits on the IEC Council. Canadian convenor Paul Cotton also leads the Working Group on Foundational standards for the joint ISO and IEC committee on artificial intelligence (ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42). As of March 31, 2020, Canada is participating in 297 ISO committees, 104 IEC committees and 19 Joint-Technical Committees.

In September 2019, our CEO Chantal Guay was elected a member of the ISO Council and became the first woman to both lead SCC and represent Canada at ISO. Chantal’s appointment amplifies Canada’s global voice — creating new opportunities for SCC to advance Canadian interests in trade, innovation, environmental issues and more. Chantal’s appointment to ISO Council creates a particular opportunity for influencing positive change, inclusion and responsiveness in the world of standardization.

We also have more than 2,000 member experts that participate in mirror committees established by SCC. These committees play a very important role since they inform Canada’s position on the issues debated in the corresponding ISO and IEC technical committees. Members are an essential component of a well functioning mirror committee. They are the subject matter experts who contribute greatly to the development and content of international standards and play a significant role in drafting international standards.

This level of strategic engagement ensures Canada can shape standards that will define rules for future markets. By being a standards setter, Canada can have influence beyond its borders, and lead the way in areas of importance such as artificial intelligence, circular economy, cybersecurity, cannabis, smart electrification, energy efficiency and renewable energies.

Strengthening regional engagement

SCC’s collaboration with national standards bodies and regional organizations around the world fuels Canada’s economic prosperity. Through our regional engagement, we help build capacity of developing economies by helping countries meet international obligations, improve their quality systems, and in turn it results in higher quality trade agreements. We also facilitate trade by finding ways to cooperate for mutual benefit with other national bodies from Canada’s major trading partners such as the American National Standards Institute (United States), the Associação Brasileira de Normas Técnicas (Brazil), the British Standards Institution (United Kingdom), etc. We also work closely with many standardization networks and have leadership positions in a number of them. Examples are the Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT), the Pacific Area Standards Congress, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Forum of IEC National Committees of the Americas, Réseau Normalisation et Francophonie, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, the European Committee for Standardization, the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization, the World Trade Organization and the Commonwealth Standards Network.

These relationships are incredibly valuable. Membership in a regional standardization organization is associated with trade promotion as it reduces technical barriers to trade with other countries in the group. For example, our research on the enhanced trade benefits of participation in regional standardization organizations showed that participation in COPANT was associated with a 10% rise in exports to other member countries.

It also goes hand in hand with the fundamental principles of standards development – to be able to have standards that address the needs of the users, you need to have different perspectives. At SCC, we believe that by listening to diverse voices and being able to get different perspectives, the standardization process is being strengthened.

Accreditation influence

We have multilateral arrangements with international accreditation organizations, which helps ensure that certifications and test results issued in different countries are consistent and are recognized across the globe. Once products and services are certified under these umbrellas, they can be accepted everywhere with equal confidence.

Our reputation on the international and regional stage gives us strategic leverage in shaping and reinforcing the value of accreditation. We sit on the board of the Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation (IAAC) and are a respected member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF), the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC).

Our work in accreditation is a gateway to trade and protects the health and safety of Canadians across a wide range of sectors, such as utilities, health care, manufacturing, and the environment. Through rigorous assessment and monitoring, accreditation provides consumers with confidence in products put to market. Having global recognition of quality and safety gives businesses a competitive edge. As of March 31, 2020, SCC oversaw 577 accredited customers of which 73.2% were laboratories.

Influencing trade policies

As a trusted advisor to government at trade negotiations, we contribute to diversifying Canada’s trade portfolio. Increased diversification opens the door to maximizing the benefits of trade agreements with North and South America, Europe, and Asia. We provided standardization expertise to the following trade negotiations, Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), Mercosur and the Canada – European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).

While international engagement is vital, Canada also increases its competitiveness by unlocking internal trade barriers, which are estimated to cost the Canadian economy up to $130 billion annually. We work through our Provincial-Territorial Advisory Committee to successfully bring together provincial and territorial regulators and policymakers to find solutions. For example, we worked on the Canadian Registration Number for pressure equipment (such as hot water tanks) to establish a more seamless and cost-effective registration system in Canada to benefit Canadian manufacturers and consumers.

Through our work and our extensive engagement at the international and regional levels, Canada continues to exert influence on the world stage, creating value for Canada and ensuring that areas of strategic importance to the country are reflected in international standardization. Canada has never been in a better position to be a standards setter on the world stage. As new technologies and consumer demands evolve at a rapid pace, we will continue to advance Canada’s standardization activities thereby building on this legacy for the next 50 years.


[i] OECD