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Ontario lawmakers debate a bill to further diminish the role of state film censors


Link Here14th November 2020
Lawmakers from the Canadian province of Ontario are debating a bill to put an end to provincial film censorship.

Presumably the move is intended to save money as the bill is titled: Bill 229, Protect, Support and Recover from COVID-19 Act (Budget Measures), 2020. This includes Schedule 12: Film Content Information Act, 2020.

In fact local film censorship has already being largely wound down, The Ontario Film Review Board ceased operation as of October 1, 2019, with responsibility for film classification being transferred from the Ontario Film Authority. This body largely adopted provincial film classifications from the British Columbia Film Classification Office.

Now is seems that formal state age ratings will be no longer required, assuming that content information is provided by the distributor. The role of film censors will then be restricted to investigating complaints. Adult films will still require ratings in Ontario but it seems these will be provided by a national film censorship scheme.

Parliamentary information about the bill reads:

Schedule 12 Film Content Information Act, 2020

The Schedule enacts the Film Content Information Act, 2020 and repeals the Film Classification Act, 2005.

The new Film Content Information Act, 2020 regulates the exhibition of films, selling or renting physical copies of video games and selling, renting or otherwise making available physical copies of adult sex films.

Part I of the Act sets out the application and interpretation provisions.

Part II of the Act provides for the appointment of a Director and Deputy Directors for the purposes of the Act.

Part III of the Act provides that films cannot be exhibited for a person's direct gain unless information respecting the film and its contents is displayed to the public. This requirement does not apply in certain circumstances, such as exhibition of a film under the sponsorship of a public library or public art gallery.

Adult sex films cannot be exhibited, and physical copies cannot be sold, rented or otherwise made available, unless the film has been reviewed and approved by an entity that is authorized to approve adult sex films under the laws of a province of Canada. In addition, they cannot be exhibited to persons under the age of 18. Physical copies cannot be sold, rented or otherwise made available to persons under the age of 18.

The sale or rental of physical copies of video games is restricted based on the rating assigned to the video game by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Physical copies of unrated video games may not be rented or sold to persons under the age of 18.

Part IV of the Act provides a procedure for the appointment of investigators and the investigation of offences under the Act. Things that are seized by the investigator may be forfeited to the Crown in certain circumstances. A procedure for applying to the Director for the return of the seized thing is set out.

Part V of the Act sets out offences, penalties and evidentiary provisions for proceedings under the Act.

Part VI of the Act provides regulation-making powers to the Lieutenant Governor in Council. These powers include the ability to modify the age restrictions that apply to the sale or rental of physical copies of video games.

Part VII sets out transitional provisions. The Ontario Film Review Board is dissolved. Licences that were issued under the Film Classification Act, 2005 are no longer needed under this new Act and expire.

Part VIII provides for the repeal of the Film Classification Act, 2005 and the revocation of the regulation made under that Act. It also makes several consequential amendments.


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