The Ontario Organic Act is Back on the Table

Nov. 12, 2018 – TORONTO – A private members bill to legislate the creation of organic regulation in Ontario was tabled today at Queen’s Park, by Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont–Dundas–South Glengarry (PC).

Within the province, the Canadian Organic Regime is only enforced for products that carry the Canada Organic Logo. Products labeled “organic” that do not leave the province are not subject to enforcement.

“The Agri-Food industry is one of our Province’s major employers and the organic sector plays  significant role,” stated MPP McDonell.  “Ontarians choose to pay a premium for organic food and should this Bill pass, it will provide consumer confidence in quality produce for the continued success of the organic food industry.”

The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO), the organization behind the bill, has been advocating for organic regulation since 2016. They’ve received endorsements from a wide range of agricultural organizations, including all three general farm organizations, representing almost all of Ontario’s 57,000 farmers.

The results of a survey of small-scale producers performed in early 2018, and published today by OCO, show that the majority of farmers surveyed are in favour of organic regulation. “Small-scale producers are among those most likely to be impacted by a new regulation,” noted OCO Executive Director Carolyn Young “and we continue to be committed to helping them overcome barriers to certification.”

The report offers recommended solutions to support small-scale growers and businesses to certify once regulation is in place.

Six other provinces have already passed legislation to protect consumers against false organic claims. Ontario is home to Canada’s largest organic market, with over $1.6 billion in sales.

“An Ontario organic regulation that levels the playing field for Ontario businesses is long overdue,” says Rob Wallbridge, President of the Organic Council of Ontario and Organic Specialist for Thompsons Limited. “Most Ontarians purchase at least some organics on a weekly basis – being able to buy local and organic products with added confidence will create opportunities for farmers, processors, and retailers.”

The second reading of the new Bill, and consequent legislative debate, will occur on Nov. 29th.

Two previous versions of the bill, introduced by Peter Tabuns (NDP) and co-sponsored by Sylvia Jones (PC) – now Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services – passed second reading last year, but did not progress further before the election was called.

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