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  • Writer's pictureFroese Law

Is your Brand Patriotic?

Updated: Jun 14

When dealing with consumer facing, heavily branded products, services and celebrity lines, it is important to stand out in the marketplace. Ensuring that your company’s brand resonates with real and potential consumers is critical. Being strategic in determining all of the different factors that evoke an emotional response by the consumer is tantamount.

A Made in Canada or Product of Canada product label can inject a sense of patriotic pride into the brand. Recently, Premier Doug Ford issued an initiative to support Ontario Made Products in support of local and domestic businesses impacted by COVID-19. The "Ontario Made" Program will provide local businesses with a logo and initiative to promote and advertise Ontario made goods and services. The goal is that consumers will become aware of Ontario based products and businesses and perhaps make better choices in terms of investing their money into the Canadian economy instead of overseas.

What is the Governing Legislation?

Canadian laws do not require businesses to incorporate any patriotic labelling that includes reference to Canada. Nor are businesses required to promote the "Ontario Made" label. The Competition Act, Food and Drugs Act, Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act also do not require that any country of origin of a product be identified. However, they do prohibit any false and/or misleading information on packaging and/or labelling of product. So where a business chooses to include a patriotic product claim, that claim must abide by government guidelines.

What are the Governing Guidelines?

The governing guidelines depend on what type of product you are selling in Canada. The Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Textile Labelling Act apply to non-food products. The Competition Bureau enforces infringements of these Acts and has created its own guidelines for enforcement of patriotic labelling claims. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency governs infractions of the Food and Drugs Act as it relates to food products. Although the Canadian Food Inspection Agency followed the Competition Bureau’s guidelines in the past, it has since created its own guidelines.

How Canadian is your Claim?

Made in Canada and Product of Canada are the two types of patriotic claims that can be referenced and they hold different thresholds. A Product of Canada claim has a higher threshold of Canadian content (98%), whereas a Made in Canada claim has a lower threshold of 51%, as long as the Made in Canada claim is accompanied by a qualifier.

The Support Ontario Made Program notes that qualifying manufactured goods are those that have undergone their last substantial transformation in the province of Ontario. This does not necessarily mean these goods qualify for under Made in Canadalabeling requirements as determined by the Competition Bureau of Canada.

Where Do you Stand?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining whether going patriotic matters. First of all, there’s the economic consideration. Will manufacturing your product in Canada drive up costs? Will a patriotic claim sufficiently manipulate consumer purchasing behaviors so as to override the increased production cost? During the recent impact of COVID-19, there is a huge push to support domestic and local businesses and products.

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