Simply put, standards make everyday life work and for Canadian businesses, standards open a world of possibilities.
Standards are an invisible infrastructure working behind the scenes to protect the safety of all Canadians. They ensure the products, services and systems we depend on are safe and reliable, and consistently perform the way they were intended to. In fact, standards touch virtually every aspect of our lives—from the moment our alarm clock sounds in the morning to the time our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. Without standards, we couldn’t trust that the water we drink is safe, that the cars we drive will steer properly, or that the toys our children play with won’t harm them.
Benefits for consumers
Standards increase consumers’ confidence and improve their quality of life.
Safer products and services
Consumers of all types (e.g. parents, employers, workers, athletes) list health and safety as their top consumer concerns. Adherence to standards and third-party conformity assessment gives the public confidence that the products and services they use are based on some level of safety, measurement, and quality. Adherence to standards and third-party conformity assessment gives consumers confidence that the products or systems they purchase will not cause harm when used as intended.
Enhanced purchasing power
In addition to increased confidence in the safety and quality of their purchases, consumers benefit from efforts to make standardized products stand out in the marketplace. Manufacturers are responding to consumer demands by making their products more user-friendly, multi-functional, and even less expensive than the competition.
Simplicity and compatibility
Standards provide consumers with greater assurance that the various components they purchase will be easy to use, and that components (e.g. audio-visual equipment, car parts, computer software) will work together. Consumer participation in standards development helps manufacturers make their products more user-friendly, multi-functional and even less expensive than the competition.
Improved social and economic well-being
Standardization not only impacts the quality and safety of individual items or services, it also plays an integral role in improving the overall health and safety of Canadians, and of their physical environment.
Benefits for the businesses and the economy
Standards don’t just keep Canadians safe. They also fuel our economy by:
Standards act as a launch pad for innovation by establishing a common language for new concepts and technologies. They help companies get their products to market more quickly by providing a framework for drawing up patents. Standards can also accelerate an organization’s path to success by providing credibility, attracting investment and stimulating R&D.
Providing companies with a competitive advantage
Standards help companies compete on a level playing field—because a product or service that conforms to a standard represents a trusted symbol of safety, dependability and interoperability. They help companies improve the quality and safety of products, services and systems. They also boost a business’s bottom line by reducing compliance costs, cutting red tape, and speeding up time to market.
Reducing barriers to trade
Standards also open the doors to trade by removing unnecessary trade barriers. Harmonized standards make market access easier by reducing compliance costs and time to market. Many international trade agreements require signatories to use international standards in their technical regulations and to mutually recognize conformity assessment procedures. Using harmonized standards help Canadian businesses sell their products and services around the globe, boosting opportunities for growth and fueling our economy.
Save time and money
Using standards can help businesses reduce costs, enhance performance and productivity because they have been developed by experts from around the world. Standards deliver internal business improvements, cost savings in regulatory compliance and increased productivity.
Manage business risk
Certification to a standard proves that your product or service meets current national and international standards. Standards set out clear specifications and help mitigate legal risk to business when bringing a service, product, or process to market.
Benefits to regulators
Standards also help governments to oversee a regulatory environment that promotes the competitiveness of Canadian businesses and ensures the safety of Canadians by facilitating the following:
Reliable and credible development process
The standards development process is well-established and trusted by Canadians. It also meets many of the requirements of Canada’s regulatory process. By working in collaboration with SCC-accredited standards development organizations (SDOs) to reach consensus of affected stakeholders, regulators are assured that the resulting standards and/or regulations will reflect the diverse needs of the Canadians they impact.
Satisfy trade requirements
Regulations are being increasingly scrutinized for their impact on trade. When regulators choose to reference in regulations, a standard developed by an SCC-accredited SDO, they can be confident that these will not introduce unnecessary barriers to trade. SCC’s accreditation procedures require SDOs use the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO-TBT) Agreement’s Code of Good Practice, which stipulates that standards bodies are to consider existing international and regional standards to the greatest extent possible. This global practice contributes to international trade facilitation, as well as enhanced safety and quality of products and services.
Adaptability in a constantly changing world
All standards have a built-in review cycle that ensures that they remain relevant to the organizations and individuals they impact, while reflecting changing needs of clients and emerging technologies. This ensures that standards referenced in regulations remain current without additional costs to the body responsible for their review and revision.
Cost-effective regulation and compliance
Referencing existing standards can save time and costs when drafting regulations and codes. Accredited conformity assessment services are a publicly trusted, efficient and in many cases less costly alternative to government-administrated inspection or verification. In addition to providing verification of adherence to standards within or in place of regulations, regulators can also rely on accredited conformity assessment bodies to provide other certification services.
Economic growth and competitiveness
By lessening the burden of regulatory compliance on industry, governments can contribute to increased economic growth and competitiveness. In many cases, when a regulator references an existing standard, businesses are already voluntarily meeting these requirements.
Learn more about standards
Find out more about how standards are developed in Canada and internationally or access our learning modules and webinars to learn more about standards.