The Regulatory Compliance Unit and the Agriculture Investigations Unit of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) assists in the administration of Ontario's food safety laws. We handle complaints through advisory, education and enforcement activities. Here's how the process works:
- OMAFRA receives a complaint.
Complaints can come from many different sources such as government and non-government agencies, industry and the general public. For efficiencies, we may partner with other ministries, agencies and other levels of government in our follow-up.
- The Regulatory Compliance Unit (RCU) analyzes the complaint and decides what action to take.
For compliance actions, the complaint may be assigned to a Compliance and Advisory Officer. There are four officers that work province-wide dealing with various compliance issues up to and including ticketing under specific legislation.
- The Agriculture Investigations Unit (AIU) responds and investigates matters of non-compliance, and advances cases through to prosecution
For more serious violations, RCU would refer the complaint to the ministry's AIU. There are seven investigators province-wide responsible for investigation services on behalf of the ministry.
Lines are clearly drawn between inspectors who monitor for compliance, and those who gather evidence for prosecution. These investigations often result in court action for contraventions under ministry legislation.
On January 4, 2016, the AIU returned from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to OMAFRA and will function within the Food Safety and Traceability Programs Branch. This is a seamless transition and investigations will continue to follow the same risk-based referral process as part of OMAFRA's progressive compliance continuum.
The RCU and AIU are aligned with the principles of a "Modern
Regulator" and, in support of the ministry's mandate, are
- Conduct in accordance with the Regulator's Code of Practice;
- Working collaboratively within the ministry, with other agencies, and industry;
- Effective and responsible use of resources;
- Following a risk-based framework;
- Effectively measure performance and report outcomes