OCO Announces Private Member’s Bill: Organic Products Act

Ontario MPPs Announce Co-Sponsored Private Member’s Bill, “Organic Products Act”

Toronto – Sept. 13th, 2017 – Peter Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth (NDP), and Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon (PC), announced a co-sponsored private member’s bill today that would initiate an organic products regulation in Ontario.

Within the province, the Canada Organic Regime is only enforced for products that carry the Canada Organic Logo and those that are exported outside of Ontario – not those simply labelled “organic” and sold within the province. Five other provinces have already adopted regulations to address the need for better oversight of organic claims and ensure consumers and organic farmers are protected.

The bill was developed in partnership with the Organic Council of Ontario (OCO), the association for organic businesses in Ontario. According to OCO President Tom Manley, the bill does more than just address labelling concerns.

“Consumer demand for local organic is huge. Ontario has a $1.4 billion dollar organic market – the largest in Canada.” says Manley. “Provincial regulation would protect businesses that already certify, and provide an opportunity for Ontario to support increased production so we can meet more of that demand right here at home.”

If passed, the legislation will set in place a legal framework to close the regulation gap in Ontario. OCO sees this bill as the beginning of a process that will allow all farmers and members of the organic value chain to contribute to the contents of the final regulation.

“We know there are many honest, hard working organic farmers in Ontario who don’t certify. This bill is meant to be the start of a dialogue that leads to a made-in-Ontario solution,” says Organic Council Executive Director, Carolyn Young. “This would include adopting the federal standards, but also exploring more options for small-scale.”

These options could include tailored certification programs for small-scale farmers making organic claims, and financial supports that would help them do so.

“This bill is designed to open doors.” says MPP Tabuns, who has been working with the Organic Council of Ontario to develop the bill based on Manitoba’s Organic Agricultural Products Act. “We want consumers to know they are actually getting what they pay for when they buy organic. But we also want to make sure that farmers and processors who invest in building an organic business are getting the most out of their investment.”

“This bill will provide further transparency and help ensure that the growing organic industry continues to enjoy consumer confidence,” says MPP Jones. “I am looking forward to this bill starting a dialogue with farmers and other stakeholders about how Ontario can align itself with the regulations adopted in five other provinces and at the federal level.”

The federal organic regulation, created in 2009, provides a legal definition for “organic,” and a certification system for organic products that cross provincial and national borders, but does not cover claims within provinces. Although organic claims enforcement is within the official purview of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), complaints regarding fraudulent or misleading use of the word, “organic,” are not likely to be enforced unless the products in question carry the Canada Organic Logo or are traded across provincial borders.

Press Release Video, September 13, 2017, Queen’s Park

 

Media Contact

Laura Northey, Communications Specialist
Organic Council of Ontario
(519) 827-1221 x102
[email protected]

Carolyn Young, Executive Director
Organic Council of Ontario
(519) 827-1221 x101
[email protected]

 

Additional Resources

Detailed information about Organic Regulation in Ontario.

Media Kit.

 

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