Canadian motion picture rating system

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Motion picture ratings in Canada are mostly a provincial responsibility, and each province has its own legislation regarding exhibition and admission. For home video purposes, a single Canadian Home Video Rating System rating consisting of an average of the participating provincial ratings is displayed on retail packages, although various provinces may have rules on display and sale, especially for the R and A categories.

There are currently four film classification offices rating commercially released movies in Canada, each an agency of a provincial government:

The province of Saskatchewan retains its own classification board, Saskatchewan Film Classification, but it has used ratings provided by British Columbia since 1997 for almost all commercially-distributed films.[2] Similarly, the Manitoba Film Classification Board was dissolved in 2018 and the Ontario Film Review Board was abolished in 2019, and both provinces also now use the ratings assigned by British Columbia.[3][4][5][6] Film distributors pay additional fees to Consumer Protection BC for certification in other provinces; they can also pay for certification in one or more provinces if they do not plan on distributing their film in British Columbia, although films to be shown only in Saskatchewan are still rated by that province's film classification office.[7]

By law, the film ratings in Alberta are also applied in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.[8]

There is no compulsory film ratings system in Newfoundland and Labrador, but Maritime Film Classification Board ratings are voluntarily used by some theatres.[9] Yukon also does not have a compulsory rating system; the two commercial theatres in Whitehorse "assign the average of film classification for Canada."[10]

Canadian ratings outside Quebec[edit]

General Canadian Ratings

In the past there was a wide range of rating categories and practices in the various provinces. However, the five rating systems outside Quebec now all use categories and logos derived from the Canadian Home Video Rating System.[11][12][13][14][15] In general, the categories are:

  • GGeneral – Suitable for all ages.
  • PGParental Guidance – Parental guidance advised. There is no age restriction but some material may not be suitable for all children.
  • 14A14 Accompaniment – Persons under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
  • 18A18 Accompaniment – Persons under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. In the Maritimes & Manitoba, children under the age of 14 are prohibited from viewing the film.
  • RRestricted – Admittance restricted to people 18 years of age or older.
  • AAdult – Admittance restricted to people 18 years of age or older. Sole purpose of the film is the portrayal of sexually explicit activity and/or explicit violence. In Alberta, the A category is used only for sexually explicit products. Manitoba and Ontario do not have this category, Manitoba uses a barcode labelling system for Adult home videos while Ontario has a Restricted-Adult Sex (RX) rating for home video products. In British Columbia, the A symbol is a red octagon rather than a blue diamond.

This system was adopted by Alberta and British Columbia in 1997. Manitoba and Ontario adopted it in 2003 and the Maritimes adopted it in April 2005.

There is also a common stock of Information Pieces ("Frightening Scenes", "Coarse Language", etc.),[16] although different boards may have additional qualifiers.

Each board is responsible for assigning a rating to films, and while most movies will likely obtain the same rating, there can be differences. For instance, the 2006 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning was rated 18A in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, while Manitoba and the Maritimes gave the film an R, and Quebec gave the film a 16+ (it was R in the USA).[citation needed] Also, 2016's Deadpool was rated 14A in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan, yet rated 18A in Ontario and Manitoba; 2018's Deadpool 2 was rated 18A in Ontario and British Columbia, yet 14A in Alberta and Manitoba.[citation needed]

Canada also receives a great deal of American advertising that features MPAA film ratings. These ratings do not have any legal effect; however, they are typically similar to those applied by Canadian classification bodies.[17]

Quebec system[edit]

Régie du cinéma Ratings Labels

In Quebec, the Régie du cinéma rates all films and videos. The Régie is a governmental agency overseen by the Quebec Ministry of Culture and Communications. Its purview devolves from the Cinema Act (RSQ, C-18.1). The same classifications are used for television broadcasts.

The ratings and their optional complementary indications are as follows:[18]

  •    G    Visa général (General Rating): May be viewed, rented or purchased by people of all ages.
    G-rated content that may not be suitable for children under eight is denoted with Déconseillé aux jeunes enfants (Not suitable for young children).
  •  13+  13 ans et plus (13 years and over): May be viewed, rented or purchased by people 13 years of age or over. Children under 13 may be admitted only if accompanied by an adult.
  •  16+  16 ans et plus (16 years and over): May be viewed, rented or purchased by people 16 years of age or over.
  •  18+  18 ans et plus (18 years and over): May be viewed, rented or purchased by people 18 years of age or over.

While not a classification per se, educational or pedagogical movies, sport and physical exercise programs, and promotional materials are exempt from classification.[19]

The Régie does not cut sequences from movies; they are rated in the format provided by the production company. Nonetheless, the Régie has the authority to deny classification, in which case the movie cannot be distributed in any format in the province of Quebec.[19]


In certain provinces in Canada, the rating system has come under criticism as being too lenient. For example, in British Columbia, the film Scary Movie was given an 18A rating, but was re-rated on appeal by the Motion Picture and Liquor Appeal Board to a 14A. This resulted in a record number of complaints to the British Columbia Film Classification Office from parents who felt the film should have been rated 18A. Many parents wrote letters to their local newspaper warning others that the film may be inappropriate for their fourteen-year-olds. Theatre owners complained about the inappropriate rating as well.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "FILM CLASSIFICATION MOVES TO CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY". Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  2. ^ "Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  3. ^ "Province of Manitoba | Sport, Culture, and Heritage | Manitoba Film Classification Board". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  4. ^ "Consumer Protection BC will be classifying films for the province of Manitoba". Consumer Protection BC. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  5. ^ "Movie ratings in Ontario". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  6. ^ "Consumer Protection BC agrees to classify certain films for distribution in Ontario". Consumer Protection BC. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  7. ^ "Distributing to other provinces". Consumer Protection BC. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  8. ^ "Film Ratings". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  9. ^ "Newfoundland and Labrador Film Classification". Media Awareness Network. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  10. ^ "Landmark Cinemas Film Ratings". Landmark Cinemas. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  11. ^ "Alberta Film Ratings". Alberta Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture. Retrieved 2007-12-01.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "classification categories". BC Film Classification. Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority of British Columbia. Archived from the original on 2007-11-11. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  13. ^ "Film and Video Ratings". Manitoba Film Classification Board. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  14. ^ "Rating Guidelines". Nova Scotia Ministry of Environment and Labour, Alcohol & Gaming Division. 2005-08-02. Archived from the original on 2007-12-25. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  15. ^ "Classification Categories and Content Advisories". Ontario Film Review Board. 2007-11-06. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  16. ^ "The 15 Information Pieces & Definitions". CMPDA. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
  17. ^ "Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  18. ^ "Régie du cinéma, Classification Process". Gouvernement du Québec. 2007-12-17. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  19. ^ a b "Cinema Act (RSQ, C-18.1)". Gouvernement du Québec. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-24.
  20. ^ Pelton, Steven (2004-08-19). "RECONSIDERATION DECISION: GOING THE DISTANCE requested by Odeon Films" (PDF). British Columbia Film Classification Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-12-01.