After a decade of discussion, it is now a reality: Canada becomes the 44th country in the world to ban cosmetics testing on animals. Will the new law, which comes into effect in December, disrupt the market? No, because these tests are already quite a thing of the past in the country.

Canada may come in behind 43 countries, but it’s “proud to join them,” federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Monday at a press conference at the manufacturing center of the Lush cosmetics company in Ontario.

Passed last week, Bill C-47 also prohibits companies from selling cosmetics that have been tested on animals and from creating false or misleading labels about the testing of cosmetics on animals.

“Nobody likes to be the 44th,” agreed Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, but the Canadian government nevertheless wants to become a “model”, especially for the United States, which should soon follow suit.

This new law will have a limited impact on the cosmetics industry, whose practices have evolved considerably over the past decade in order to comply with European standards. The European Union has had laws to this effect for about 20 years, but the complete ban came into force there in 2013.

“There were already no animal tests at all, because we work with the European Union and we followed their regulations,” explains Gabriella Saraceno, project manager, research and development, at Jouviance, a brand Quebec skin care company. Globally, the L’Oréal Group does not test any of its products or any of its ingredients on animals, according to L’Oréal Canada.

To Health Canada’s knowledge, “no cosmetic product currently in Canada” is tested on animals, said Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. “That being said, we want to make sure that never happens,” he added. Foreign companies that want to sell animal-tested cosmetics in Canada, he says, will not be able to do so in the future. According to Humane Society International, China, for example, still requires animal testing of its cosmetics companies.

However, there are cosmetic products on the Canadian market whose ingredients have been tested on animals in the past, at a time when “the concern for animal health was less strong,” explained Minister Duclos.

Ethics director for Lush Global, Hilary Jones agreed that she wished Canadian law had gone further. “We would like to see all cosmetics go through the new method, but are we happy with this legislation? Absolutely,” she said at a press conference. The organization Humane Society International is also delighted. “Finally, Canadians can be assured that the beauty products they buy in this country are cruelty-free,” said Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of the Canadian branch of Humane Society International.

The Cosmetics Industry Alliance of Canada, which represents 170 companies, highlighted the “unanimous” support behind this new Canadian legislation. Its president, Darren Praznik, welcomed the contribution of the European Union, which has invested heavily in the development of new test methods (artificial skin, computer modeling, etc.) to meet government requirements for toxicology. . But there is still “a lot of work to do,” noted Darren Praznik, who called on the Canadian government to invest in the development of these new methods.

At the L’Oréal Group, which has been reconstructing human skin in the laboratory since 1979, we are delighted that Canada has adopted its new law. Ditto at Jouviance. “I think it’s also going to create a movement in all the other industries where animal testing still exists,” said Gabriella Saraceno.

Among the countries that already ban cosmetic testing on animals are Guatemala, India, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Some US states have also adopted local laws. The European Parliament is aiming for a global ban, since it adopted a resolution in 2018 calling for a worldwide ban on animal testing in cosmetic products.