Canada’s Organic Standards


What are Canada’s Organic Standards?

The Canadian Organic Standards are a detailed set of principles, guidelines, and permitted substances that are used in the organic certification process. The use of the term “organic” is governed only by federal legislation. In Ontario there is no dedicated regulation of or legislation regarding use of the term “organic.”

However, in 2021 and 2022, we are currently advocating in support of the Organic Products Act, which would provide provincial regulation that would align with the federal legislation for the use of the term “organic” for products grown and sold within Ontario. 

To read more about the Organic Products Act, you can check out our blog post below.

Canada’s Organic Standards are recognized as equivalent to the respective standards created by both the European Union, Switzerland, Japan,Costa Rica, and the United States. For more information on equivalency arrangements, please visit our equivalency arrangement page.

Amendments to the Standards

In December 2020, the Government of Canada released the updated editions of the Canadian Organic Standards, a process which must occur every five years. This is done to remove any confusion from the document and make sure the documents reflect the latest science and technology while also accurately representing the farmers the standards are designed for. This update includes the Organic Production Systems: General Principles and Management Standards and the Organic Production Systems: Permitted substances lists. Organic growers who gained certification prior to December 11, 2020 were encouraged to produce organic products based on the new standards during the 12-month implementation period and must be fully compliant with the new standards by November, 2021. All certified documentation reflects the new standards beyond November 2021. Products or ingredients produced and certified before December 11, 2020 are still considered compliant with organic standards and can be used and marketed as organic products.  

Read A Comparison Between The 2015 and 2020 Edition Of The Standards

A Few Changes To The Standards to Highlight

2020 Canadian Organic Standards Review

Canada’s Organic Standards are under continual review in order to ensure that they remain up-to-date and incorporate ongoing organic research and other advances. The Organic Council of Ontario routinely solicits feedback from its members regarding such changes in order to communicate member concerns effectively to the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC). Additionally, OFC has a Standards Interpretation Committee that regularly calls for feedback on Standards Interpretations through Public Comment Periods.

To view current statements under review, or to see past amendments, visit OFC’s webpage on Organic Standards Interpretation.

2020 Canadian Organic Standards Review

To learn more about the Standards Review process and OCO’s role in the publication of the 2020 standards, read the following blog posts which were a part of OCO’s #YourStandardsYourSay series. Issues explored include Cannabis, Parallel Production, Aquaponics, Small Scale Solutions, and Poultry Outdoor Access.

Review Process:Exploring the Issues:
Launch of Public Review for Proposed Changes to Canadian Organic Standards

Canadian Organic Standards Review: Public Comment Period Coming in June The Review of the Canadian Organic Standards: A Fast-Tracked Review

Canadian Organic Standards Review Consultation & Update

Canadian Organic Standards Review Process Underway

Find Out How to Help Improve the Canadian Organic Standards

2020 Organic Standards Published
#YourStandardsYourSay Webinars: Topics in the Canadian Organic Standards Review

#YourStandardsYourSay -Organic Cannabis: A Pipe Dream?

#YourStandardsYourSay – The Parallel Production Ban: A Necessity or an Inconvenience?

#YourStandardsYourSay – Something Fishy About Aquaponics?

#YourStandardsYourSay – Small-Scale Solutions: Growing the Organic Tent


The Organic Federation of Canada (OFC) has provided a series of articles which explain the Canadian Organic Standards Review process and explore the proposed changes.

If you are an organic farmer, producer, processor or retailer, OCO is your link to the Organic Federation of Canada (OFC). We provide feedback, suggestions, and voice member concerns regarding regulatory changes to the OFC on an ongoing basis. To keep in touch on when OFC is taking feedback as well as organic issues in Ontario, please sign up for our monthly e-news.

CAN/CGSB-32.310 Organic Production Systems: General Principles and Management Standards

CAN/CGSB-32.311 Organic Production Systems: Permitted Substances Lists (PSL)