Frequently asked questions
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- General frequently asked questions on the Canadian General Standards Board and standards
- Frequently asked questions on the standards development process
General frequently asked questions on the Canadian General Standards Board and standards
Q1. What is the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB)?
A1. The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is a federal government organization that offers client-centred, comprehensive standards development and conformity assessment services in support of the economic, regulatory, procurement, health, safety and environmental interests of our stakeholders—government, industry and consumers.
CGSB is an organization within Public Services and Procurement Canada. It offers standardization products and services, including standards development, product evaluation, certification and quality assessment.
CGSB is a member of Canada's National Standards System, and is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada as a standards-development, certification, and registration organization. CGSB supports the government's economic, regulatory, procurement, health and safety interests.
Q2. What is the work of CGSB?
A2. CGSB is an organization within Public Services and Procurement Canada. It offers standardization products and services, including standards development, product evaluation, certification and quality assessment.
Accredited by the Standards Council of Canada, the CGSB offers programs and services in Standards Development, Registration, and Certification and Qualification - Products and Services. Currently we are responsible for approximately 350 standards and specifications, as well as conformity assessment programs with over 500 customers world-wide.
Established in 1934, CGSB is a charter participant in the National Standards System of Canada.
Q.3 What is a standard?
A.3 A document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.
Note : Standards should be based on the consolidated results of science, technology and experience, and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits.
Q.4 What is a National Standard of Canada?
A.4 A National Standard of Canada is a document approved by the Standards Council of Canada that contains requirements and definitions for a specific product or activity. A National Standard of Canada can be developed by CGSB or by another accredited Standards Development Organization.
The designation National Standard of Canada indicates that a standard is recognized as the official Canadian standard in a particular subject area or topic. Before a standard can become a national standard, it must be approved by the Standards Council of Canada, Canada's national accreditation body.
Inclusion of the abbreviation "CAN" in the prefix of the standard's reference number indicates that a particular standard has been designated a National Standard of Canada.
Approval as a National Standard of Canada, indicates that the development of that standard has met certain requirements, including that it has been:
- Developed by consensus from a balanced committee of stakeholders
- Subjected to public scrutiny
- Published in both official languages
- Consistent with or incorporates existing international and pertinent foreign standards
- Not act as a barrier to trade. National Standards of Canada may be developed in Canada or adopted from international standards, with or without changes
Q.5 Why are standards important?
A.5 Standards play an important role in everyday life. They may establish size or shape or capacity of a product, process or system. They can specify performance of products or personnel. They also can define terms so that there is no misunderstanding among those using the standard.
Standards ensure consistency of vital features of goods and services, such as safety, interoperability. They help make the development, manufacturing and supply of goods and services more efficient, safer and cleaner. Standards make trade between countries easier and fairer and help safeguard users and consumers.
Q.6 Are standards mandatory or voluntary?
A.6 All National Standards of Canada are voluntary standards. However, some CGSB standards have become mandatory because they are referenced in regulation by a regulatory body or in procurement schemes.
A standard becomes law if a federal, provincial, or municipal government references it in legislation.
Frequently asked questions on the standards development process
Q.7 What is CGSB's role in the development of standards?
A.7 CGSB administers the standards development process by establishing and supporting balanced standards committees that represent producers, users, general interest and regulatory members, to arrive at voluntary consensus standards.
CGSB Standards Policy and Procedures Manual is followed in the development and maintenance of the voluntary consensus standards.
Q.8 Who can become a member of a CGSB standards committee?
A.8 All CGSB standards committee members are volunteers. Membership in a CGSB standards committee is open to any individual or organization that has a direct interest in the standards committee's decisions, an expressed interest in standards development and are able to make an active contribution. The precise composition of each standards committee depends on the subject of the standard under development, but generally includes producers, users, general interest and regulatory representatives.
A standards committee has two types of members: voting and information (non-voting). CGSB strives to ensure that the representation from each category is balanced to prevent any single group from dominating the standards committee's voting procedures.
Q.9 Who decides which standards committee members are voting or non-voting?
A.9 CGSB grants voting status to those members requesting it, provided that this measure preserves balanced representation from producer, user, general interest and regulatory groups while ensuring regional representation.
It is CGSB policy that, whenever possible, organizations rather than individuals hold voting memberships in its standards committees. CGSB strives to ensure that the voting membership of its standards committees represents Canadian national interests on trade, health and safety, and the environment.
Q.10 Who approves and promulgates the standard?
A.10 Approval of the technical elements of the standards is the responsibility of CGSB Standards Committees. Approval of the procedural elements of the standards is the responsibility of the CGSB Panel on Process Assurance. Approval of the standards as National Standards of Canada is the responsibility of the Standards Council of Canada.
Q.11 How is the standard approved?
A.11 A draft standard is provided in a ballot to the voting members of the responsible Standards Committee.
Approval of the draft standard by these voting members must be achieved by consensus.
Formal committee approval of the standard requires more than 50% of the members who are eligible to vote cast affirmative votes, and ⅔ of the votes cast are affirmative.
Q.12 What does consensus mean?
A.12 Consensus is a general agreement, characterized by the absence of sustained opposition to substantial issues by any important part of the concerned interests and by a process seeking to take into account the views of all parties concerned and to reconcile any conflicting arguments.
Note 1: Consensus need not imply unanimity.
Note 2: The absence of sustained opposition is not intended to provide a 'veto' to any one party.
Q.13 Where can I get more information about how standards are developed?
A.13 The CGSB Standards Policy and Procedures Manual for the Development and Maintenance of Standards detail the requirements for the initiation, development, preparation, approval and maintenance of CGSB and National Standard of Canada standards.
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