Frequently Asked Questions: Amendments to the Weed Seeds Order

The frequently asked questions below are meant to provide Canadians and businesses with general information about the amendments to the Weed Seeds Order.

What is the purpose of the Weed Seeds Order and these amendments?

The WSO, a ministerial order made pursuant to subsection 4(2) of the Seeds Act, plays a critical role in preventing the introduction of new weed species into Canada by regulating the presence of weed species in seed sold in, or imported into, Canada. 

The WSO groups weed seeds into six classes according to their level of risk.  The assessment of risk includes considerations such as economic reasons, such as crop yield and market access, and environmental impacts. The most restrictive class, Class 1 prohibited noxious weed seeds, is prohibited in seed.  The level of weed species listed in Classes 2 to 6 and that are permitted in a seed sample are specified in Schedule I of the Seeds Regulations.

The new Weed Seeds Order, 2016 will be more effective at prohibiting species of concern and controlling the spread of weed species through seed.  The amendments help reduce the number of introduced and established weeds in Canada, preserve biodiversity, improve the efficiency of agricultural production, and reduce the cost to control weeds.

What are the key elements of these amendments?

The amendments include:

  • adding new and emerging weed species to the WSO;
  • reclassifying some species in order to reflect the current distribution of weed species in Canada;
  • removing some species which are now considered agricultural crops;
  • revisions to the regulatory text with the wording in the Seeds Act to ensure consistency in language and interpretation; and,
  • alignment with current international best practices.

How do these amendments affect Canadian businesses?

Reducing the number of harmful weed species will help preserve the long-term prosperity of Canada's agricultural sector and enhance its value in domestic and international markets.  Updated weed species classifications in the WSO is based on current information on species distribution in Canada and will reduce undue burden on industry resulting from outdated regulation.

We anticipate that there may be additional, though minor, compliance costs to some small businesses in the seed industry with weed species being added or reclassified.

Some of the species listed as Prohibited Noxious on the Weed Seeds Order are also regulated by CFIA under the Plant Protection Act.  What are the related implications for stakeholders?

When a Prohibited Noxious species is detected as part of the normal function of the Seeds Act, the CFIA may take action under the Plant Protection Act (PPA), if the species is also listed on the List of Pest Regulated by Canada.  The CFIA may invoke the PPA to mitigate the risk associated with the weed species.

As part of this consultation, stakeholders raised concern about compensation for those affected by the implications of enforcement action taken under the PPA.

When are these regulations expected to come into force?

The amendments to the WSO come into force on November 1, 2016.

Where can I get more information about the Seeds Regulations and the Weed Seeds Order?

For more information about seeds, please go to our website or contact David R. Bailey, Director, CFIA Plant Production Division.

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