The Ontario government is taking action to completely change the way the province’s film rating system works by completely eliminating the age rating of films.
Earlier this month, the province introduced legislation to repeal the Film Classification Act, 2005, which requires that every film screened in Ontario be classified as General, Parental Guidance, Accompaniment 14, Accompaniment 18, or Restricted.
Instead, Ontario introduced the new Film Content Information Act, 2020, and it no longer requires movies to be age-rated.
“We have taken steps to update the province’s film classification framework to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses and better reflect today’s digital market,” said a statement from the Ministry of Government Services and of Consumer Services Ontario.
“We are doing this by proposing to eliminate film rating requirements and licensing requirements for film exhibitors, retailers and distributors.”
If passed, the law will require exhibitors to provide consumers with publicly available information about the content of the film that is more descriptive than the simple standard classification based on age, including violence, nudity, foul language , substance use, etc.
Movies may also include a message that a movie is intended for an older audience, but this will only be a suggestion and not a rule.
“Exhibitors must also provide consumers with contact information for any questions or complaints,” the ministry’s statement read. “In addition, if the operators do not comply with the requirements of the Act, the ministry may pursue the matter further.
While this new law would change the rules applicable to feature films broadcast in the province, it would maintain existing provisions relating to adult sex films and video games.
The move comes after Premier Doug Ford shut down the Ontario Film Board (OFA), a non-profit corporation that oversaw the rating and approval of films in the province, in September 2019.
The provincial government then assumed responsibility for overseeing the review and approval of all films, as well as issuing licenses to film distributors, exhibitors and retailers in the province.
“These changes recognize changes in consumer behavior related to media consumption,” the statement read.
“We know that viewers consume media content in very different ways today (that is, popular streaming services such as Netflix, Crave, and Apple + do not fall under provincial jurisdiction and are not subject to the same film classification requirements). The content of the film, again, is more descriptive than the simple standard classification based on age. “