How to Shop Sustainably and Ethically for Canada Day

Canada day is here and Canadians will be out sporting Canada flags and items with the maple leaf or Canada on them. But many items that we proudly display are likely not made in Canada.

With the debate surrounding the change in the Canadian anthem, why are traditions such as Canadian manufacturing taking a backseat in the minds of passionate Canadians? Even the government of Canada seems to be buying Canada items from outsourced companies around the world for Canada day. Our government spends over 16 billion dollars a year on products and services. It is essential that we make sure we are supporting the local economy.

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Made in Canada and Product of Canada – What does it all mean?

Regulations have been introduced to help people source their items. Product of Canada meaning that almost every part of the product was produced in Canada. Made in Canada refers to a product that half or more of the entire pieces was made in Canada. If a company is found to make false claims on these products, fines may ensue.

“The new Guidelines introduce a distinction between “Product of Canada” and “Made in Canada” claims. “Product of Canada” claims will be subject to a higher threshold of Canadian content (98%), while “Made in Canada” claims will remain subject to a 51% threshold of Canadian content but should be accompanied by a qualifying statement indicating that the product contains imported content. In both cases, the last substantial transformation of the product must have occurred in Canada.”

Even with these guide-lines, it may be hard to tell if a product you purchase is truly Canadian made. The guidelines state that exceptions are made by cost of the item. If 51% of the cost to produce the product is spent in Canada, they may still make the claim of made in Canada. With such low wages around the world, it seems as if it wouldn’t be hard to have a major portion of the product made somewhere else and come here for finishing, since our wages and costs are much higher.  And I must mention that these are guidelines. See below for exceptions made for manufacturers:

“Product of Canada” Claims the Bureau generally will not challenge a representation that states that a good is a “Product of Canada” under the false or misleading representations provisions of the Acts if these two conditions are met:

  1. the last substantial transformation of the good occurred in Canada; and
  2. all or virtually all (at least 98%) of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the good have been incurred in Canada.

“Made in Canada” Claims the Bureau will generally not challenge a representation that a good is “Made in Canada” under the false or misleading representations provisions of the Acts if these three conditions are met:

  1. the last substantial transformation of the good occurred in Canada;
  2. at least 51% of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the good have been incurred in Canada;
  3. and the “Made in Canada” representation is accompanied by an appropriate qualifying statement, such as “Made in Canada with imported parts” or “Made in Canada with domestic and imported parts”. This could also include more specific information such as “Made in Canada with 60% Canadian content and 40% imported content”.

 

Why should we care about where these items are from?

Where an item comes from is something everyone should know and care about. Buying items from ethical and sustainable retailers should be taken into consideration, especially when buying your Canada themed items. When you buy from a Canadian manufacturer, you are putting money back into a local economy in Canada. Buying from local Canadian sources helps support Canadian business, and help to keep good jobs in Canada. Canada has minimum wage and safety legislation, workers outside Canada often do not have such protections. Canada also has environmental regulations (need to be strengthened after the Harper government gutted many regulations) that help to protect the environment.

These days, it can be difficult to find products made in Canada. Trade regulations have a lot to do with manufacturers packing up and leaving Canada in an attempt to reduce costs and compete with other countries that do not have the same labor regulations. Items are often outsourced, shipped back to Canada and are often made in places with weaker environmental protections, where facilities may pollute the areas they are made in. Labor regulations may not meet Canadian standards, which can lead to injury, abuse or death.

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Canadian Day Activities

 

But Where do I find products that are made in Canada?

It’s true it can be hard to find made in Canada products, luckily I have made a list of where to get some items for Canada day.

 

Flags Unlimited

This company makes Canada flags, in Canada! They have taken steps to reduce environmental impact and their website boasts of a waste water facility in house, that treats and purifies waste water before sending it back to the water systems.

 “We far surpass the City of Barrie’s standard for water leaving this building and entering the city’s sewer system. A process that is analyzed by the City on an annual basis.”

This company not only recycles everyday objects, but polyester leftovers as well. You can even send them your old worn flag to be recycled at their facility. As for dyes used, the company states all dyes are water based and free of harmful chemicals. See the video below for a “How It’s Made”  at Flags Unlimited:

 

The Flag Store 

Also located in Barrie Ontario (who knew Barrie manufactured so many flags?) , The Flag Store states all of their flags are manufactured in Canada. This company also offers installation services.

 

Flying Colors International 

This company states that they supply flags to the Government of Canada and boasts of having a head office as well as production in Toronto.

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Let’s celebrate Canada day by purchasing products made ethically and from sustainable sources.

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