What you need to know if you're making and selling non-medical masks

The demand for non-medical masks is going up — but the Competition Bureau of Canada says those who are making and selling them will need to label them properly.

Cloth masks need to be labelled with fibre content and seller or distributor information

Amateur sewers might be surprised to learn that they can't legally sell cloth masks in Canada without labelling them properly — among other things, specifying the fabric composition in both French and English. (Carolyn Ryan/CBC)

The demand for non-medical masks is going up — but the Competition Bureau of Canada says those who are making and selling them will need to label them properly.

Masks became mandatory in indoor public spaces on P.E.I. at 12:01 a.m. Friday, following similar rules brought in by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador earlier this summer.

According to the Textile Labelling Act, you need to include the following on the label:

  • The fibre content by percentage in both English and French.
  • Either your name and the address of your principal place of business, or a registered CA identification number (issued through the Competition Bureau of Canada).

The information can be included on a non-permanent label, like a hang tag or a sticker, or through a more permanent label sewn into the mask if the seller chooses to.

"People want to make their informed purchasing decisions," explained Arthur Carson, a senior competition law officer with the bureau, which enforces the regulations.

"We want to give them ample information to make that decision."

Carson said the information also allows people to track down the seller if they have any issues or questions about the product.

The bureau has information on its website about labelling laws, and Carson said it has also been putting information on social media in an effort to reach people who are making masks with the intention of selling them.

Most comply voluntarily

Carson said if sellers aren't following the rules, the bureau could contact them and ask them to comply — a tactic he said is generally very effective.

"Normally in almost 99 per cent or 99.9 per cent of the cases we get voluntary compliance from the sellers," he said.

If the seller still doesn't comply there are penalties outlined in the law that could include fines or jail time.

"It's a criminal statute so we do have the option to take these cases criminally to court," said Carson. "Not something we do often, but again, it is an option where there are fines and possible seizures that could take place."

I think people should do their homework when buying these types of face masks.— Arthur Carson, Competition Bureau of Canada

According to the law, those found in contravention of labelling laws could face a fine of up to $3,000 and up to a year in prison.

The Competition Bureau of Canada doesn't make recommendations on the use of non-medical masks or medical-grade masks and doesn't oversee any other claims a product might make, such as being able to prevent disease transmission or being antibacterial.

Carson said those are regulated through Health Canada.

"I think people should do their homework when buying these types of face masks," he said.

More from CBC P.E.I. 


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