History of Canadian Standards and Regulations - Organic Trade Association
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History of Canadian Standards and Regulations


Note: This page is an archive of news on the OTA’s involvement in developing Canada’s current Organic Products Regulations (OPR) as well as the standards and related documents. For the most current iformation visit our Canadian Standards page.

Canada’s revised organic standard should be ratified in June this year. In March, the Canadian General Standards Board notified the organic standard technical committee that the comments from the last standards revision vote had been studied and the responses tabled. The issues arising from the comments were put on a future work list for the technical committee to address over the summer.

March 2006:
OTA and five other members of the private sector Organic Regulatory Committee met with Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) president François Guimont. Mr. Guimont assured the group that the coming regulation has his full support and will be fast-tracked through the system. He said it is unheard of for an industry to be so united in requesting a regulation and the organic regulation is a good news story for Canadian agriculture. 

April 2006:
The CFIA Organic Task Force (OTF) manager Michel Saumur told OTA the OTF staff has been “feeding” the regulation process at top speed for three months. The policy document has been drafted, reviewed and revised about 15 times. From Agriculture Minister Chuck Strahl to CFIA management, there is strong support for the organic regulation.

June 2006:
The first version of the Canadian organic regulation will be pre-published in the Canada Gazette. The public and international trading partners will have 75 days to comment. The government will then spend up to 60 days reviewing the comments and making the necessary revisions prior to final publication and enactment.

Canada hopes to see an organic regulation on the books and a Canada Organic Office/ Bureau national du biologique at CFIA in the autumn of 2006.

This is important progress because, although Canada has had an organic standard since 1999, it has not been codified in law. Certification of organic producers and handlers, and accreditation of certifiers has been voluntary, except in Québec, which is requires certification to the Québec organic standard by a certifying body accredited by the Conseil des appellations agroalimentaires du Québec (CAAQ).

The Canadian organic community wants a mandatory regulatory system that will ease the way to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada securing equivalency agreements with other countries. An ad hoc private sector Organic Regulatory Committee has worked with government to develop and implement an affordable system that is recognized by consumers, traders and regulators everywhere. The system will define accredited certifiers, procedures for inspection and certification, a Canada Organic seal, surveillance and enforcement, and maintenance of the Canada Organic Standard and Permitted Substance List.

OTA is active on the Organic Regulatory Committee, which includes representatives of national, provincial and regional organic organizations, certifiers and businesses. OTA supports Canada's National Organic Strategic Plan, and are participating in coalition efforts to implement its provisions. To view the plan, see National Organic Strategic Plan.

December 2006:
Canada's new Organic Products Regulations became a reality with the December 21, 2006, publication in the Canada Gazette. This regulation will affect all Canadian businesses engaged in international or interprovincial trade and all businesses that import to Canada or buy Canadian organic products. The final publication followed a 75-day public comment period, during which OTA studied the document and submitted a formal comment.
OTA's comment on the regulation and cover letter to Canadian Food Inspection Agency
The regulation is expected to take two years to implement (to December 2008). The government will begin by appointing accreditors for the certification bodies working in Canada. The certification bodies will then need to be accredited and demonstrate that they are ready to certify to the Canada Organic Standards.

June 2007:
Update on Canada's Organic Products Regulations and Quality Management System (QMS) Manual.
The Canada Organic Office (COO) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that Canada's Organic Products Regulations will be amended sometime in the fall of 2007, but no specific date has been set. The amendments will cover import and labeling requirements among other topics. The COO has indicated it will consult directly with industry, including OTA, before publishing the amended regulations in The Canada Gazette I. Following publication, there will be a 75-day period for public comment before final version is released. In the meantime, OTA has been asked to sit on the COO's technical advisory committee to aid it with finalizing the program's internal administrative Quality Management System Manual.

December 14, 2007:
One year deadline to Canada’s regulation.
Canada's OPR are scheduled to be fully implemented on December 14, 2008. The regulations will make the Canadian organic standards and permitted substances list mandatory for all organic food and livestock feed products sold in Canada, regardless of organic status under other regulatory programs. These products will be able to opt in to displaying the “Biologique Canada Organic” seal. OTA staff have met with both US and Canadian governments to encourage a discussion on a possible equivalency agreement between the two programs.

Bilateral trade negotiations do take time, so it is unknown whether an agreement would be in effect by the implementation date. Because of this, OTA members who have business in Canada are encouraged to speak with their suppliers and certifying bodies regarding certification to the Canadian standards. Links to the most current versions of Canada’s Organic Products Regulations, the Canadian organic standards and Permitted Substances List are included below. Also available is the PSL comment form for submitting items for inclusion on the PSL. Please note that these documents are undergoing changes and any updates will be posted here as they become available.

January 8, 2008:
Quality Management Systems (QMS) Manual released. More information and links to the document are provided below.

April 2008:
Organic sector is waiting for announcement regarding possible delay of regulations until amendments to the standard are finalized and ratified.

June 2008:
The Canada Organic Office has confirmed that the OPR will be implemented on December 14, 2008.

September 2008:
The Canada Organic Trade Association announces that an official amendment to the Organic Products Regulation has been published in the Canada Gazette (II), delaying implementation of the new regulations and standards until June 30, 2009.

November 2008:
The Canada Organic Office has released a draft Stream of Commerce policy for comment.

January 2009:
CGSB publishes updated standards, available for a fee.

February 14, 2009:
Amended Organic Products Regulations published.

June 24, 2009:
The final version of the Organic Products Regulations were published in the Canada Gazette II and a new "Biologique Canada Organic" logo was unveiled (below). The Canada Organic Office has also published its "Stream of Commerce Enforcement Policy" for the first 24-months of the Canada Organic Regime.

June 30, 2009:
Today's the day! Canada's Organic Products Regulations and new "Canada Organic" logo (see below) come into effect after years of sector consultation and preparation. COTA would like to say Thank You to the Government of Canada for hearing our calls for effective regulation of the organic sector in Canada.

For more information, please contact OTA's managing director, Canada, Matthew Holmes

Return to Canada Organic Trade Association.

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