Ministerial exemptions for alleviating a shortage in Canada
Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, certain requirements are being phased in over the following 12 to 30 months. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.
On this page
- Food "For Further Preparation Only" that does not require a Ministerial Exemption
- Criteria for a Ministerial Exemption for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available domestic supply of a food
- Procedure to apply for a Ministerial Exemption for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available domestic supply of a food
- Additional information on Ministerial Exemptions for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available domestic supply of a food
- Appendix A: Checklist of information to include on a 60-day forward contract (for fresh potatoes only)
The Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) prescribe grade, container size and labelling requirements for some foods. Food marketed in import or interprovincial trade must comply with the prescribed requirements. In order to alleviate a shortage in the available domestic supply of a food, regulated parties may apply for a Ministerial Exemption from the application of provisions of the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) and Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) [174(1), SFCR]. If granted, the applicant may import or send and convey the non-compliant food from one province to another. Non-compliant food is food that does not comply with one or more requirements of the SFCA and SFCR that are not related to food safety or health.
Ministerial Exemptions are granted by the Minister who has delegated his authority to a specific position within the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Ministerial Exemptions must be necessary to alleviate a shortage in the available supply of a food that is manufactured, processed or produced in Canada, and must not have an adverse effect on health and safety.
Food "For Further Preparation Only" that does not require a Ministerial Exemption
Under section 18 of the SFCR, a person may send or convey from one province to another or import a food that does not meet the requirements of the SFCA and SFCR without a Ministerial Exemption, if the food is labelled "For Further Preparation Only" or "pour conditionnement ultérieur seulement". Food sent or conveyed from one province to another or imported under section 18 of the SFCR must be brought into compliance within three months unless a longer period has been authorized. Section 18 of the SFCR does not apply to imported meat products [18(1)(c), SFCR].
For further information, refer to 6.0 Exceptions and non-applications of the Regulatory Requirements: Trade.
Please note that the exception provided under section 18 of the SFCR may not be used to send or convey from one province to another or import a food that does not meet the following requirements:
- grade requirements for fresh fruits or vegetables and processed fruit or vegetable products
- standard container sizes for fresh fruits or vegetables, processed fruit or vegetable products and honey
- standards of identity for processed fruit or vegetable products set out in the Canadian Standards of Identity, Volume 4
These requirements must therefore be met when these specific foods are sent or conveyed from one province to another or imported, unless a Ministerial Exemption is granted.
Criteria for a Ministerial Exemption for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available domestic supply of a food
A Ministerial Exemption (ME) for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in Canada in the available supply of a food that is manufactured, processed or produced in Canada is subject to conditions set out in subsection 174(2) of the SFCR.
For example, food packaged in excess of prescribed container sizes or food not meeting the prescribed grade requirements that cannot be imported or sent or conveyed from one province to another under section 18 of the SFCR, may be imported, sent or conveyed from one province to another under a Ministerial Exemption for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in available domestic supply.
For fresh fruits or vegetables for which grades are prescribed and that are destined for processing, the fresh fruits or vegetables need not meet one of the grades specified in the Regulations, but are subject to the quality parameters specified by the applicant. In the case of fresh fruits or vegetables destined for repacking, grade requirements must be met; only labelling and packaging requirements may be waived.
Proof of shortage in the availability of supply
Applicants must demonstrate that a shortage in domestic supply exists or is imminent and that the exemption requested is necessary to alleviate that shortage for a specified period (specified start and end dates of the shortage). Written proof of shortage may be obtained from:
- a reputable source (e.g., producer and packer organizations, industry associations, marketing boards, known suppliers) indicating that a shortage exists for the specified period of time and quality (e.g., size, grade). The applicant is responsible for any fee which may be requested by the reputable source
- any other source which may be beneficial in determining the availability of domestic supply and for consideration in evaluating the ME application. For example:
- new domestic supplies are expected at the start of the harvest season
- no domestic supplies will be available all year due to a known crop failure
- all domestic supply is under contract, therefore no product is available
Evidence of shortage would be on a case by case basis. For interprovincial exemptions, the evidence should show proof of shortage within the receiving province. For import exemptions, evidence should show proof of shortage in the receiving province as well as in the neighbouring province(s) or provinces with commercial production. As per the Canada/United States (US) Technical Arrangement Concerning Trade in Potatoes, proof of shortage for exemption for fresh potatoes imported from the US will be required from the receiving province only.
Suppliers, associations, boards, etc., are expected to provide prompt written responses to an applicant's request for information. If the response is not received within two (2) working days, it will be understood as meaning that the supply is not available and a ME may be issued.
The evidence of shortage must accompany the ME application. This documentation must be forwarded to the CFIA Centre of Administration by letter, facsimile, electronic mail messages or other printed communication (e.g., Statement of availability). With the exception of electronic mail, when evidence of shortage documentation is provided by an organization, it should be on the letterhead of the organization and signed by a responsible representative of the organization. Electronic mail messages must be sent from the reputable source's email address.
The evaluation of a shortage will be based on the availability of domestic products manufactured, processed or produced in Canada. It will not be based on the existence of imported products already in Canada. The cost of the product cannot be used as a factor in determining a shortage.
60-Day forward contract (for fresh potatoes only)
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, applicants requesting a ME for potatoes may use 60-day forward contracts as sufficient evidence of shortage or anticipated shortage in the availability of domestic supply. The requirement for the option of a 60-day forward contract is based on the Canada/US Technical Arrangement Concerning Trade in Potatoes. It does not apply to other foods.
A 60-day forward contract between supplier and buyer must contain at a minimum the information contained in Appendix A. In lieu of a copy of the actual contract, the applicant may provide the CFIA with a contract attestation which must be signed by a lawyer, notary public, or justice of the peace.
When applying for a Ministerial Exemption based on a 60-day forward contract where the applicant is not the end-user, the end-user must provide the applicant with a letter, on their letterhead, indicating the quantity of produce that they have agreed to purchase from the applicant, a copy of which the applicant must provide to CFIA with their application.
Note: In the case where applicants are not end-users, signed letters from end-users must cover the total volume in the 60-day forward contract or the Ministerial Exemption will be restricted to the volume that the end-users have indicated that they have agreed to purchase.
It should be noted that when providing a 60-day forward contract or contract attestation to the CFIA, information may be accessible or protected, as required, under the Access to Information Act. Therefore when submitting these documents, they should be identified as "confidential documents" either on the document itself or in an accompanying letter.
Procedure to apply for a Ministerial Exemption for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available supply of a food
A person may apply for a ME to alleviate a shortage, in the form approved by the President, either using form CFIA/ACIA 4685 or form CFIA/ACIA 5567, whichever applies. The applicant needs to identify the provision of the SFCA or SFCR from which the exemption is sought. In assessing an application for a ME to alleviate a shortage in the available supply of a food, while respecting existing trade agreements, the CFIA applies a uniform approach.
ME may be granted if the conditions set out are met [174(2)(a), (b), (c) and (e), SFCR]:
- information submitted in the application is complete, truthful and not misleading
- the food meets health and safety requirements [8, SFCR]
- no risk of injury to human health would result from the ME
- the exemption is necessary to alleviate a shortage
ME applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. They are issued for a particular receiving province. The food must be brought into compliance before it can be shipped from the receiving province to another province or exported. A ME is not transferable from one applicant to another.
A ME applicant should be prepared to substantiate that the food meets all other regulatory requirements except that for which it is requesting an exemption.
Additional information on Ministerial Exemptions for the purpose of alleviating a shortage in the available supply of a food
Additional information on conditions and validity of Ministerial Exemptions are as follows:
- pursuant to section 176 of the SFCR, the Minister may, at any time subject the exemption to conditions
- a Ministerial Exemption to alleviate a shortage in the available supply of a food is valid for the specified provisions (e.g. loads, volume) and until the specified expiry date indicated on the Ministerial Exemption. If no date is specified, it is valid for two years from date of issuance [177, SFCR]
- Ministerial Exemption may be cancelled if the person granted the exemption does not comply with any of the conditions imposed or any applicable provision of the SFCA or SFCR other than the provision for which the exemption is granted. A Ministerial Exemption may also be subject to cancellation if the Minister is of the opinion that not cancelling the exemption may result in a risk of injury to human health [178(a) and (c), SFCR]
- Ministerial Exemptions are subject to fees pursuant to the Fees notice
Appendix A: Checklist of information to include on a 60-day forward contract (for fresh potatoes only)
|A clear indication of the end use of the potatoes (i.e., repacking, processing, other)|
|Origin of potatoes|
|Volume/quantity (i.e., weight or number of loads)|
|Size (when grade is required)|
|Colour (if applicable)|
|Type (i.e., round, long) (required for repacking)|
|Variety (if applicable)|
|Signature of contract by the purchaser and date of signature|
|Signature of contract by the seller and date of signature|
|Date of first shipment (must be a minimum 60 days after the date the contract is signed)|
|Date of contract expiry (cannot exceed 12 months from the date of first shipment)|
|Notes/additional information (if applicable)|
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