THE COMPLIANCE CONTINUUM

Most provincial and federal regulatory agencies in Canada perceive statutory compliance as occurring along a continuum. Indeed, it is this belief that drives many of their regulatory programs and the development of associated policies and strategies. It is helpful for the regulated community to understand the continuum so that they can minimize the uncertainty that is often associated with regulatory compliance and enforcement. By recognizing its point on the continuum, a regulated entity is able to reasonably predict future enforcement tactics and can make appropriate adjustments in its compliance management systems. It should also be recognized that a state of compliance can be transitory and is generally subject to evolving influences and variables.

An entity is positioned along the continuum when it is subject to a requirement to comply through its involvement in a regulated activity. The activity may be regulated through legal instruments such as Permits and Licenses. The entity's position on the continuum, often a function of its compliance history, will generally guide the regulator's response to non-compliance.

Compliance Promotion Activities, generally involving education, to familiarize regulates with the requirements of regulation, the benefits of complying, and the liabilities associated with non compliance.
Compliance Verification Inspections and audits which either confirm compliance or alternatively, in the case of non compliance lead to a counseling or enforcement response.
Compliance Counseling Warnings, cautions, alerts, notices etc., either oral or in writing, notifying a regulatee of confirmed or suspected non compliance and the need to alter behavior to avoid potential consequences.
Compliance Enforcement Statutory Orders, specific to the offending activity, which compel compliance, and/or investigations, conducted for the purpose of supporting prosecution or some other judicial proceeding, which may, in the case of the defendant, specifically compel compliance as well as promote compliance generally among regulatees.

To achieve compliance, regulators rely on two compliance models, frequently in juxtaposition. The Cooperative Model and the Deterrence Model each have distinct features and specific application. A regulated entity's interaction with the regulator will occur within the framework of either or both of these models.

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