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How standards are developed

Role of the Standards Council of Canada
Development of National Standards of Canada
Development of international standards 

A proposal for a standard can come from an organization that has identified the need for a standard. The development process may use a pre-existing document or, if one does not already exist, it may begin the process of having a standard developed. Standards can be developed nationally or internationally.

  • Nationally, SCC accredits Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) to develop the National Standards of Canada (NSCs). 
  • Internationally, standards are developed by the technical committees and subcommittees of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and IEC. Canada contributes to international development through its mirror committees.

SDOs in Canada are accredited by the SCC to carry out standards development work. They develop a standard by consulting with a group of subject matter experts, who become members of a technical committee. Participants in these committees provide technical expertise and input. At the same time, they benefit by gaining professional knowledge in their field. 

Role of the Standards Council of Canada

The Standards Council of Canada accredits standards development organizations and coordinates Canada’s input in international standardization work.  The Standards Council of Canada also reviews standards submitted by standards development organizations for approval as National Standards of Canada.  Through its Member Program, SCC also coordinates membership on international standards development committees. The sections below provide more detail on the process for the development of the National Standards of Canada as well as international standards. 

Development of National Standards of Canada

The development of NSCs makes use of international standard development best practices and safeguards the interests of Canadians. NSCs may be nationally developed or may be adoptions of international standards. When developing NSCs, SDOs consider important factors such as timing, funding, and committee structure.

Steps in the NSC development process include: 

  • identifying the need for the standard
  • reviewing the existing standards landscape
  • engaging affected stakeholders
  • notifying the public at the project start
  • developing the standard (by technical experts)
  • publicly consulting on the proposed standard
  • disposition of comments and revision as applicable by the technical committee
  • vote and approval of the NSC
  • prompt publication
  • maintenance of the NSC

To be recognized as a National Standard of Canada developed by an SCC-accredited SDO, the standard must be developed in accordance with the Requirements & Guidance – Accreditation of Standards Development Organizations. Key requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • development by consensus from a balanced committee of stakeholders
  • public scrutiny
  • publishing in both of Canada’s official languages
  • being consistent with (or incorporating) existing international and pertinent foreign standards
  • not acting as a barrier to trade
  • maintenance, generally through periodic review (five-year cycle) or as changes are needed

The periodic review can result in confirmation that the technical content is still valid or a revision or withdrawal of the NSC. This is done to ensure the ongoing relevance and currency of standards.

Development of international standards

International non-governmental standards are primarily developed by two organizations:

They are developed using an established process in accordance with the ISO/IEC Directives. SCC determines Canada’s participation in international standards development activities using the criteria outlined in Requirements & Guidance – Participation in International Standardization. For example, the criteria state that the standards should:

  • benefit trade
  • advance the national economy
  • assist consumers
  • benefit the health, safety, and welfare of workers and the public
  • support sustainable development
  • support government initiatives

Steps in the international standards development process include: 

  • identifying and proposing the new standard
  • approving the proposal and confirming participation by National Bodies (minimum requirements)
  • updating the committee work programme to indicate project start
  • developing the project (technical experts)
  • commenting on the draft document (National Bodies and the public)
  • incorporating comments and revising the draft (technical experts)
  • voting on and approving the final draft document (National Bodies)
  • publishing the approved document
  • maintaining the document

SCC is the Canadian member of ISO and IEC and ensures effective Canadian participation in the international standardization activities of those organizations. This participation occurs through mirror committees (MCs) established by SCC. New MCs may be established as the result of a request from a Canadian applicant, or as the result of the formation of a new technical committee or subcommittee (TC/SC) in ISO or IEC. When a new MC is established, SCC will generate a call for individuals to participate as members of the MC based on stakeholder categories. 

In accordance with the Requirements & Guidance – Participation in International Standardization, SCC’s MCs include experts from various stakeholder categories relevant to the subject matter, such as:

  • industry and commerce
  • government or authorities with jurisdiction
  • consumer and public interest groups
  • labour groups or unions
  • academic and research bodies
  • standards application organizations
  • non-governmental organizations
  • SDOs

Definitions of the stakeholder categories are included in the International Standards Development – Program Overview.

Members are an essential component of a well functioning MC. A member is a subject matter expert who agrees to participate in the development of international standards. Subject matter experts contribute greatly to the development and content of international standards, and as such, play a significant role in drafting international standards.