Canada bans cosmetic testing on animals

The ban supports animal rights and initiates change for alternative ways to test products

Art by Rachel De Freitas

Cosmetic testing on animals will no longer be legal in Canada following the government’s passing of Bill C-47, planned to come into effect Dec. 22.

“The new legislative changes mean that in Canada, companies will no longer be allowed to test cosmetic products on animals or sell their cosmetics that rely on animal testing data to establish safety,” reads a statement from the Government of Canada’s news release.    

Although cosmetic testing on animals rarely occurs in Canada, Bill C-47 is meant to inspire other countries to follow and ban this practice. 

European Union countries, Australia, the United Kingdom, and South Korea have already taken steps to ban cosmetic animal testing in their countries, according to the news release. 

Toolika Rastogi, senior manager of policy and research at Humane Canada, says the organization is pleased that Canada has implemented the ban. 

“It’s wonderful news. In the past, there was no clear rule indicating that companies selling or making products in Canada couldn’t test these kinds of products and ingredients on animals,” Rastogi says. 

Humane Canada, founded in 1957, is Canada’s federation of SPCA and humane societies. BCSPCA is a member of the national organization in B.C. 

“We [represent] humane societies and SPCAs across Canada,” she says. “We work at the federal level to advocate for strong laws that protect animals to improve the laws that exist.” 

Bill C-47 will enforce the ministry of health to oversee cosmetic company’s claims and make sure the products are cruelty free. 

The current federal government promised to ban cosmetic testing on animals in their last election platform. 

“There is a recognition that people care about animals and watch to see advances on the ethics of animal use,” Rastogi says. 

The government is also taking steps towards banning animal testing for other products besides cosmetics, such as toxicity testing. 

“There were some really strong amendments made to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that will drive down the use of animals in testing toxic chemicals,” Rastogi says. 

“We are looking forward to seeing the [government] showing us how they are reducing animal use in this way, [and] how they will require companies to use alternatives that are not animal based methods.” 

Now with technology, there are different ways to test if products are safe for humans without the use of animals. 

“Some of the new methods are based on human biology. You can take cells from a specific organ, say a liver, and test whether the substance has an impact on human liver cells,” she says. 

“You are taking all of the cells that are involved in a particular human organ and seeing what impact those substances have on human tissues and organs, not on animal ones.” 

This safer alternative will prevent animals from being cruelly exploited because many of the tested drugs do not end up being safe for human use. 

Humane Canada’s end goal is to make Canada a safe country for animals and this bill is supporting that goal. 

“It is fantastic that we have a formal system in Canada now that prevents testing on animals for products that are cosmetics,” Rastogi says.