Canada Supports a Stronger Global Standardization Network

Michel Girard

The Standards Council of Canada highlights the importance of collaboration.

As the leader of Canada's standardization network, the Standards Council of Canada supports Canadian government, industry and consumers to build a strong economy and protect the health and safety of our citizens. More and more, we look to the alignment of standards to help us do our job effectively.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is vital that we work together to build a more innovative and integrated standardization network across North America if Canada is to remain competitive. Some progress has been made in developing harmonized standards for Canada in recent years, but the marketplace needs this alignment to go even further to better serve Canadian stakeholders. That is why SCC is working hard to identify and develop standardization solutions that will make the concept of "one standard, one test … accepted everywhere" a reality.

SCC-accredited standards development organizations understand that it is time to move toward this goal. SCC believes that we do not need - and can no longer afford - to develop and maintain thousands of Canadian standards that differ only slightly from those in the United States. Among other things, duplication in the system means there can be multiple tests and certifications that result in increased costs for companies and consumers.

In many ways, ASTM is already heading in the right direction when it comes to the alignment of standards, as their standards are used around the world, and SCC recognizes and supports ASTM's efforts to create high quality technical standards that can be and are used in dozens of countries. An example of a standard that gets us closer to our goal is ASTM F2291, the standard for amusement rides and devices. It sets out standard tests, performance specifications, definitions, maintenance, operations, practices and guides for things like roller coasters, merry-go-rounds, zip lines and inflatables. In fact, it is the standard for amusement rides and devices around the world and is referenced in provincial regulations across Canada. The use of F2291 means that whether you are riding a roller coaster in Orlando, a merry-go-round in Toronto, or a zip line in British Columbia, you can rest assured that the equipment is well maintained and safe.

Having one standard that is used by industry across North America - or even around the world - and one test to make sure that the service, product or facility is built and maintained to meet that standard, is the way of the future, and SCC is working with SDOs to lead the way. For example, Health Canada - the government department responsible for public health - helped design an ASTM standard to address safety issues surrounding liquid laundry detergent packets. In recent years, concerns have been raised regarding their safety after incidents of people ingesting the brightly colored detergent pods. To reduce unintentional exposures, especially to children, ASTM developed this standard that is now in use in the United States. So if this standard already meets Health Canada's requirements, why would we reinvent the wheel? Having one standard for all of North America just makes sense.

SCC is also pleased to see that the reach of SDOs, including ASTM, continues to grow in Canada. There are currently more than 1,400 Canadians participating in ASTM standards development activities, and ASTM also holds a number of technical committee meetings in Canada. This growing presence helps ASTM incorporate the needs of Canadians and makes it easier for Canadian experts to contribute their perspective and expertise in developing new ASTM standards.

There is still work to be done to achieve SCC's long-term goal of "one standard, one test… accepted everywhere." But if we work together, we are confident that we can create an integrated standardization network that benefits not only Canada, but all of North America and people around the world.

Learn more about the Standards Council of Canada and how it works with stakeholders to build a strong and innovative economy and protect the health and safety of Canada's citizens.

Michel Girard is vice president, strategy, at the Standards Council of Canada. The strategy branch oversees SCC's strategic initiatives, engagement with stakeholders, analysis of standardization issues and development of key policies, advising the CEO and senior management in these areas.

Industry Sectors: 
Consumer Products