Other Provinces

In recent years, six provinces have passed legislation mandating certification for organic products sold within their borders -- a potential gap that could allow for intra-provincial sale of non-certified products, not directly addressed by federal legislation. To varying degrees, these provinces have also established support to assist farmers’ transition and certification costs, as well as other resources for the sector.

Quebec

Quebec was the first province to enact provincial organic regulation in 2009. The province had its own organic standard and a unique organic brand, but has since adopted federal standard. In 2015, the Quebec government announced a $9 million growth strategy for the organic sector including direct payments for transition, promotion and research.

The Quebec organic regulation is enforced by an arms-length agency called Conseils des Appelations Réservées et des Termes Valorisants (Council of Reserved Designations and Added Value Claims), which is jointly funded by the government and the organic industry. Enforcement includes retail inspections and requires certification of in-store repackaging. Violators pay a fine of up to $20,000 for a first offence.

 

Manitoba

Manitoba was the second Canadian province to enact regulation, in 2013. Its regulation system is complaints-based, and is administered by the Ministry of Agriculture. When complaints are received, the government can appoint an RCMP officer or CFIA inspector to investigate and enforce violations. Penalties for violations can be significant: up to $50,000 for a corporation, and $20,000 or 6 months jail time for an individual.

 

New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s provincial regulation came into effect in 2014, and is also a complaints-based system. Regulation is enforced by the New Brunswick Farm Products Commission. Penalties include a maximum fine of $5,200 and 30 days in jail for a first offence, and up to $10,200 for a second offence.

New Brunswick also subsidizes new farmers seeking organic certification up to 70 percent, to a maximum of $500 per operator over three years, provides up to $4500 for training, and covers up to 60 percent of consulting fees.

 

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia was quick to follow New Brunswick in passing regulatory changes, but the changes were not enacted until 2015. The complaints-based system is similar to New Brunswick’s, but with a more modest ($100) fine for non-compliance. Violators who do not pay the fine can face jail time. Nova Scotia also supports organic farmers through transition by subsidizing up to 2 years of transition by 70 percent to a max. of $500.

Nova Scotia‘s Department of Agriculture will make $3.7 million in investments through its Growing Forward 2 funding agreement, broadly encouraging more ecological practices, and including supports for Best Management Practices used in organic agriculture and manure management.

 

British Columbia

British Columbia’s organic regulation was introduced in February of 2016, but did not come into force until September 1, 2018, in order to give businesses time to transition. The regulations are complaints based and uncertified operators marketing their food or beverage products as organic face possible penalties including a $350 fine. The regulations extend to farmers’ markets, farm gate sales and retail stores. 

Under the BC Food and Agricultural Products Classification Act, provincial organic regulations are administered by the Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC). There are 3 types of organic certification services available in BC. The first is the Canada Organic Regime which is administered by federally accredited certification bodies and is necessary for goods traded interprovincially and internationally. The second type is regional certification, which is appropriate for operators who require intraprovincial certification (i.e. only selling within BC). The final type is Low Risk certification, which is meant to serve small scale producers. If an operation is assessed as being low risk, the frequency of inspections is reduced to a 3-year period, providing the producer with savings. 

Depending on their type of certification, organic products can bear either or both the BC Certified Organic Checkmark and/or the Canada Organic logo. The BC Organic Checkmark has been a successful marketing campaign and has recognition province-wide. 

 

Alberta

Alberta’s organic regulations under the Supporting Alberta’s Local Food Sector Act (SALFSA), require that any Alberta-made products labelled as ‘organic’ meets federal certification requirements outlined in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. This Act was passed on June 11, 2018 and went into force on April 1, 2019, which allowed businesses time to adapt. The Province created the regulations so that they aligned with the federal Canadian Organic Regulations (COR) in order to keep the transition process as simple as possible.

The enforcement system is complaints-based and compliance-based. Complaints are directed to the organic sector development officer within the Ministry of Agriculture. Penalties for violations can reach a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals and $20,000 for corporations. 

Read our blog post on the new Alberta organic regulations.