Frequently asked questions and answers for amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations and the Seeds Regulations in order to comply with the Official Languages Act
The following provides Canadians and businesses with general information about the amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations and the Seeds Regulations required to fulfil the CFIA's duty under section 26 of the Official Languages Act. Full details can be found in the Regulations Amending Certain Canadian Food Inspection Agency Regulations.
Questions and answers
What is the purpose of the amendments?
It is important to all Canadians to have access to information related to health and safety in their official language of choice. Under section 26 of the Official Languages Act, the CFIA has the duty to ensure that where CFIA regulations pertain to activities related to health, safety or security, the regulations must require that information related to those activities be available to members of the public in both official languages. Once the amendments are implemented, information related to health and safety on labels of seed treated with pest control products and veterinary biologics, such as vaccines, will be required to appear in both official languages. In addition, the French term for "veterinary biologics" under the Health of Animals Regulations is being updated for consistency with the Health of Animals Act.
Why are the changes being made now?
These amendments are being made to ensure the CFIA meets its duty under the Official Languages Act.
What is the timeline for implementation?
The new labelling requirements will come into force two years after the amended regulations are registered.
What are the key elements of the amendments?
Amendments to the Seeds Regulations require that labels for seed treated with a pest control product include the following elements on the label in both official languages:
- a precautionary symbol and a signal word (e.g., caution, danger, corrosive) to indicate the nature and degree of risk in the product
- a statement not to use the seed for feed or food, including the common or chemical name of the pest control product
Amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations require that all label information on veterinary biologics commercially distributed in Canada be written in both official languages. This includes product information such as the assigned name, net quantity of the product in the container and the directions for use for all veterinary biologics that are for prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of infectious diseases in animals in Canada.
Other amendments to the Health of Animals Regulations include the following:
- indicating that the bilingual labelling requirement only applies to products sold or distributed in Canada. This will allow foreign manufacturers to ship unilingual labelled products to their Canadian importer on the understanding that the products will be relabelled by the Canadian importer to conform to the bilingual labelling requirements before they can be sold in Canada
- remove unintended restrictions on the placement of labels (e.g., on or attached to every container) on veterinary biologic products in subsection 133(1) of the current regulations so as to adequately reflect the definition of "label", which includes package inserts, in the Health of Animals Regulations; with this amendment, companies that use a unilingual label on the product can now include a bilingual package insert as well in order to meet the official language requirements
- allowing a person to sell a veterinary biologic that is labelled in only one official language if the Minister determines it is needed for research or emergency use
- removing specific labelling requirements for modified live rabies vaccines because this type of vaccine is no longer being used due to safety considerations and the availability of other vaccine options
- clarifying requirements about the labelling for any cautionary information necessary to promote the safe handling and use of the veterinary biologic
- replacing the term "produit vétérinaire biologique" in the French version of the Health of Animals Regulations with the term "produit biologique vétérinaire" to align with terminology in the Health of Animals Act.
How do these amendments affect Canadian businesses?
Once the amendments are implemented, information related to health and safety on labels of seed treated with pest control products and veterinary biologics, such as vaccines, will be required to appear in both official languages. All businesses in the seed and veterinary biologics industry will need to comply with the requirements.
Canadian importers or distributors who receive their supply from companies in the United States, or other foreign companies, with unilingual (for example, English) labels will need to relabel the products with bilingual (French and English) labels before sale in Canada.
How will the new requirements be monitored for compliance?
The CFIA will verify compliance with the new labelling requirements for veterinary biologics through routine inspections at the Canadian manufacturer and importer level.
The CFIA's ongoing monitoring of the seed industry includes regular and periodic label reviews of imported and domestically produced seed in the marketplace. Operational procedures will be amended to include verifying the requirement for bilingual labelling of the pest control product information.
Where can I get more information?
For more information on these regulations, please contact the nearest CFIA Area office.
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