Movie Ratings For Canada
In Canada, movie ratings are a provincial responsibility. Between the 10 provinces and 3 territories, there are 7 film rating boards and offices. Classification responsibilities are shared betweens some provinces as follows:
- Film ratings from British Columbia are also applied in Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory.
- Ratings from the Alberta classification board apply in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
- The Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador all share the same movie ratings.
Click the tabs below to find rating details on each of these boards:
In 1913, British Columbia began looking into rating movies for the citizens of the province. Today, they have a classification office with employed classifiers who provide British Columbia movie ratings using the following insignia:
|G||All ages. The contents of these motion pictures are suitable for viewing by all ages.|
|PG||All ages. Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.|
|14A||Anyone under 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Parents cautioned. These films may contain violence, coarse language, and/or sexually suggestive scenes.|
|18A||Anyone under 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.|
|R||No one under the age of 18 may view under any circumstances. Content not suitable for minors. May contain scenes of explicit sex and/or violence. However, the film classification office considers these films to have some artistic, historical, political, educational or scientific merit.|
|Adult||No one under 18 may view under any circumstances. May contain explicit sexual scenes and/or violence. However, the classification office considers these films to be tolerable to the community.|
Based on research prior to classifying a title, if a movie appears to clearly fall into one of these categories it is typically viewed by 2 people. If the film appears to be more controversial, as many as 5 classifiers may view it.
The British Columbia Film Classification office's movie ratings are enforced through provincial legislation. However, the office only provides movie ratings for theatrical movie releases. They have no jurisdiction for movies on video other than "Adult" sexually oriented videos.
British Columbia Film Classification
PO Box 9244
Victoria BC V8W 9J2
Toll Free: 1 888 564 9963
Phone: 1 604 320 1667
Fax: 1 250 920 7181
While the official act of legislation in Alberta still refers to the board responsible for Alberta's movie ratings activities as "The Alberta Censor Board," the office is informally known as the Alberta Film Classification Board. Like other Canadian classification offices, they advise the general public on what ages are appropriate to attend theatrical movie releases.
Seven staff members, including 3 full-time classifiers and 1 part-time classifier, are responsible for the day-to-day operations of rating all movies publicly exhibited in Alberta, using the following rating symbols:
|G||General, suitable for viewing by all ages.|
|PG||Parental guidance is advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children.|
|14A||Suitable for viewing by persons 14 years of age or older. Persons under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain violence, coarse language, and/or sexually suggestive scenes.|
|18A||Suitable for viewing by persons 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. May contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.|
|R||Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age or older. Content not suitable for minors. Contains frequent sexual activity, brutal/graphic violence, intense horror and/or other disturbing content.|
|Adult||Admittance restricted to persons 18 years of age or older. Content not suitable for minors. Contains predominantly sexually explicit activity.|
The Alberta Film Classification Board classifies any films that are to be shown commercially within the province. However, it has no jurisdiction over home video releases. Video retailers in the province rely on the CMPDA Home Video Rating to provide consumers with content information.
Information extracted from the Alberta Film Classification website and interview with former director Sharon McCann.
In Manitoba's early years, movies were black and white in more ways than one. Rated either "General" or "Adult," the Film Censor Board took the attitude that if a movie couldn't be edited to the point where it was suitable for the public, it was simply banned.
Since its beginnings in 1923 the board has undergone several changes, the most notable being the removal of the board's legal authority to censor in 1972, making it the only Canadian board without the ability to alter films prior to their exhibition (although this right is rarely enacted by the other Canadian boards).
Manitoba film ratings use the following classifications
|G||General viewing. Suitable for all audiences. All may rent or buy. Suitable for those under 12. (Similar to voluntary U.S. MPAA "G").|
|PG||Parental guidance advised. Theme and content may not be suitable for all children. Most suitable for mature viewers over 12. All may rent or buy. (Similar to voluntary U.S. MPAA "PG").|
|14A||Suitable for persons 14 years of age and older. An adult must accompany those under 14 when they view, rent or buy. Parents cautioned. May contain violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes. (Similar to U.S. MPAA voluntary "PG 13" or some "R", usually language).|
|18A||Suitable for persons 18 years of age and older. Persons ages 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult when they view, rent or buy. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror. (Similar to voluntary U.S. MPAA "R").|
|R||Only Adults 18 and over may rent or buy. May contain foul language, or depict graphic violence, horror or sexual activity.|
|Adult||Indicated by "Manitoba Barcode." Only Adults may rent or buy. Content is sexually explicit, or graphically and excessively violent.|
Made up of what is called a "citizen board," the Manitoba Film Board requires at least 16 board members to function. Currently there are 31 members, with 25 acting as viewers and the rest as general board members. Coming from a cross-section of Manitoba society, there are no particular requirements for board members who are paid $75 for each day of viewing and must commit to serve for 4 days every 6 weeks.
Regulating both theatrical and home video releases (included adult sex-oriented videos) in the province, the board views an average of 3,500 VHS and DVD releases, along with 250 theatrical movies.
Manitoba Film Classification
Manitoba Department of Culture, Heritage & Tourism
301 Weston Street, Room 216
Fax: (204) 945-0890
Responsible for regulating cinema to the largest portion of Canadians, the Ontario Film Review Board relies on a large panel of up to 32 people to provide Ontario's movie ratings. Sitting in panels of 3, all board members are considered to be part-time film classifiers.
Ontario movie ratings are determined using the following system:
|G||Film appropriate for viewing by a person of any age.|
|PG||Parents should exercise discretion in permitting a child to view the film.|
|14A||Persons younger than 14 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.|
|18A||Persons younger than 18 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.|
|R||Film restricted to persons 18 years of age or older.|
One of the more unusual activities of the Ontario board is their twice-monthly screenings where they invite a group of people to watch the movie along with the classifiers. After the movie is over, the classifiers head into another room to deliberate their decision. Then the 3 person board returns to share their rating and reasoning with the audience.
The chair hopes activities like these will keep their board current and abreast of societal attitudes as they apply Ontario movie ratings to both theatrical and video releases.
Ontario Film Review Board
Chair, Bruce Davis
4950 Yonge Street, Suite 101B
1 (416) 314-3626
Toll Free: 800-268-6024
Fax: (416) 314-3632
Quebec movie ratings are the responsibility of the Régie du cinéma and its board of 11 permanent employees who provide ratings for 12,000 titles per year from around the world in a palette of languages.
In the early days, the Régie du cinéma board made censorship cuts to many of the movies coming into the province. The revolutionary attitudes of the 1960s changed the board's direction toward classifying movies rather than making changes to them. The classification process would allow certain ages to be restricted from seeing a movie if necessary.
Today, Quebec film ratings are applied using these classifications:
|G||Appropriate for viewing, rental or purchase by persons of all ages. When a film with a "G" rating might offend the sensibilities of children under 8 years of age, "Not suitable for young children" is added to the classification. Films in this classification have only occasional scenes of violence. These are not overly intense and are not condoned. Although there may be some nudity, love scenes remain rather discreet. Depending on the context, some expletives are tolerated.|
|13+||May be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 13 years of age or older. Children under 13 may be admitted only if accompanied by an adult. These films contain passages or sequences that may offend the sensibilities of younger viewers.|
|16+||May be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 16 years of age and over. Films with this rating present troubling themes, situations or behaviours and adopt a more direct point of view about things. They may therefore contain scenes where violence, horror and sexuality are more graphic.|
|18+||May be viewed, purchased or rented only by persons 18 years of age and over. Films reserved for adults most often deal primarily with the representation of explicit sexual encounters. They may also be extremely violent, showing scenes of hyperrealistic cruelty, torture and horror.|
In the 1980s the Régie du cinéma was given additional responsibility to regulate movie distributors in the province. According to Paul Simard, the former Director of Film Classification, regulating movie distributors was necessary to "make sure there is no undercurrent with distributors that could destroy the market." Thus, each distributor must have a valid permit from the Régie du cinéma to operate in Quebec. As well, each individual film must bear the correct stickers or visa prior to being exhibited.
While the Régie du cinéma has legislative authority to enforce movie ratings in Quebec, M. Simard reminds citizens that the Régie doesn't have the power to directly fine a teen for renting an age restricted movie, but would instead fine the video store or theatre owner responsible for allowing the infraction to occur.
The Régie du cinéma's legislation extends to all theatrical movies shown in the province along with home video releases that are both rented and sold.
In early 2003 M. Simard retired as director and has been replaced by Marie-Josée Guérette, who is the "directrice de la qualité des services et du développement."
Quebec Film Classification
Régie du cinéma
390, rue Notre-Dame O., Bureau 100
Toll Free: (800) 463-2463
Fax: (514) 873-8874
Canadian Movie Ratings:
During the World War I era, the censor of the province of Nova Scotia was equipped with a "citizen's advisory board" whereby he could decide what films were acceptable for public exhibition in the province. Those initial fears of undue political influence in movies changed with the advent of sound. In the decades that followed, the hardened process of simply accepting or rejecting movies was replaced by razor blades, where segments deemed as unacceptable were removed from the film.
Moving into the late 20th century, the word "censor" began to have a negative connotation. Thus, the Nova Scotia board began a classification system that focused on advising the public about the nature of a film as opposed to editing. Eventually, the provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island would also adopt Nova Scotia's movie ratings, which are often referred to as "Maritime movie ratings."
Now part of the Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Authority, the province's Film Classification System uses the following symbols:
|G||Considered to be suitable for all ages. No restrictions on viewing. The material does not contain elements that might be too intense or offensive for young viewers.|
|PG||All ages may attend. However, parents should know that the theme or content of the film may be more mature than in "G" rated films. It may be appropriate for those 12 years of age and over.|
|14A||Considered to be suitable for those 14 years of age and older. Those under 14 must be escorted by an adult. A film with this rating may contain: scenes of limited violence; the use of weapons without excessive blood-letting; restrained portrayal of accident or disaster; scenes of casual or brief nudity, romantic involvement that is not sexually explicit, where participants are at least partially clothed; some coarse or vulgar language.|
|18A||Considered to be suitable for those 18 years of age or older. Those under 18 must be escorted by a parent or legal guardian. Films with this rating may contain: excessive use of foul or offensive language; depictions of extreme violence and horror; graphic sexual activity.|
|XXX||Restricted to those 18 years of age or older. These films contain: sexually explicit scenes; graphically or excessively violent scenes.|
|E||These videos have not been viewed by the Authority. They may include children's cartoons, travelogues, instructional videos, athletic events and cultural, industrial, religious or political material.|
The Nova Scotia office provides movie ratings for all Canadian Maritime provinces, including video ratings for home video releases available for rental or purchase.
Note that Newfoundland theatres and video store operators are not required by legislation to use ratings assigned by the Nova Scotia office.