National Report Calls Ontario Out for Lack of Organic Regulation

First Ever National Organic Sector Report Highlights Quebec’s Leadership While Ontario Lags Behind

A new national report by the Canada Organic Trade Association identifies Ontario as the province with the most ground to gain in creating organic market consistency across Canada.

As the first report of its kind, The State of Organics: Federal-Provincial-Territorial Performance Report 2017 analyzes the existing organic policy frameworks among Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments. The report is a benchmark, demonstrating the current state of affairs in Canada’s organic sector.

The report highlights that:

  • Gaps in organic regulations persist in some jurisdictions. Jurisdictions with these gaps create an unequal playing field for organic businesses, hinder sector growth and fail to protect consumers.
  • Quebec is leading the way by having the longest-standing organic regulations, extensive organic production support, market support and data collection.
  • Ontario is falling short. It is the province with the largest organic market in Canada. Yet it has no provincial regulations, and provincial government support is limited and inconsistent.
  • Organic data collection systems across the country are limited and inconsistently available.

“Canadian consumers and businesses need to see more government support of the organic sector in Canada,” said Tia Loftsgard, executive director of the Canada Organic Trade Association. “A consistent framework across Canada would create a level playing field for organic businesses to thrive and increase consumer confidence. We have been encouraged by the positive conversations with government leading up to this report.”

As part of its work in 2017-2018, the Organic Council of Ontario will dedicate resources to pushing the Ontario government for a provincial legislation and regulation that includes special considerations for small, diverse farms, who may face multiple barriers to organic certification.

“It is time for Ontario to step up to the the plate,” says Tom Manley, President of the Organic Council of Ontario. “We are long overdue for organic regulation in this province – consumers are confused by unverified organic claims and conventional farmers consider regulatory confusion a barrier to transition to organic production. We’re calling on the Ontario government to level the playing field before it’s too late.”

The Canada Organic Trade Association has three recommendations for government.

  1. Ensure that all provinces and territories adopt organic regulations.
  2. Invest in expanded and improved organic data collection systems.
  3. Increase organic policies and programs across jurisdictions.

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Report is available for download here.

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