Order Fixing July 7, 2021 as the Day on Which Section 2, Subsection 4(3) and Sections 6, 8 and 15 of that Act Come into Force: SI/2021-35

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 155, Number 14

SI/2021-35 July 7, 2021


Order Fixing July 7, 2021 as the Day on Which Section 2, Subsection 4(3) and Sections 6, 8 and 15 of that Act Come into Force

P.C. 2021-599 June 17, 2021

His Excellency the Administrator of the Government of Canada in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, pursuant to subsections 22(2) and (3) of An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, chapter 9 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019, fixes July 7, 2021 as the day on which section 2, subsection 4(3) and sections 6, 8 and 15 of that Act come into force.


(This note is not part of the Order.)


Pursuant to section 22 of An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (chapter 9 of the Statutes of Canada, 2019), this Order fixes July 7, 2021, as the day on which section 2, subsection 4(3) and sections 6, 8, and 15 come into force.


The objective of this Order is to set the coming-into-force date for certain provisions of An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms, which received royal assent on June 21, 2019.

This Order supports the Government of Canada's (GoC) ongoing commitment to reduce firearms crime and strengthen Canada's firearms control regime to keep Canadians safe. It supports the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness' mandate letter commitment of January 15, 2021, to “continue to implement [GoC's] firearms commitments.”


To strengthen firearms laws in Canada and to keep communities safe from gun violence, the Government introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend certain Acts and Regulations in relation to firearms (the Act), in March 2018. The Act amended the Firearms Act to uphold the commitments the Government made to Canadians to enhance background checks and licence verification; standardize existing best business practices among retailers regarding record-keeping; ensure that firearms classification decisions will be made impartially; and bolster safeguards related to the transportation of restricted or prohibited firearms, while not impeding the lawful use of firearms. The Act received royal assent on June 21, 2019, but these provisions are not yet in force.

This Order will bring into force two components of the Bill C-71 amendments to the Firearms Act, namely (i) enhanced background checks; and (ii) safeguards related to the transportation of restricted or prohibited firearms.

Enhanced background checks (section 2)

In determining whether a person is eligible for a firearms licence, section 2 of the Act will require a mandatory lifetime background check by a Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) to consider specific information from a firearms licence applicant's full life history, instead of the current optional practice. This will help ensure that potentially disqualifying events — such as a pattern of interaction with police in matters of family violence, but that did not result in criminal conviction — are nonetheless taken into consideration by CFOs over the full case history for each new applicant.

Section 2 will also add criteria that must be considered in deciding whether to grant a firearms licence. Prior to Bill C-71, the Firearms Act required CFOs to consider whether the licence applicant has a criminal record, a history of violent or threatening behaviour, or formal treatment for mental illness regarding self-harm or harm to others. Following the coming into force of Bill C-71 amendments, the Firearms Act will require that the authorities also consider whether the applicant

The Act also clarifies that threatening violence and conduct that is communicated digitally (e.g. social media, by text message) is equal to in-person threats. Combined, these provisions provide additional means to determine whether an individual has a history of abuse or violence — whether in person or online — against any other person, including intimate partners. In turn, these provisions help to ensure that individuals with a history of violence are not eligible to hold a firearms licence.

Transportation of restricted and prohibited firearms (subsection 4(3) and sections 6, 8, and 15)

Under the Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act (2015), if an individual was authorized by a Chief Firearms Officer (CFO) to acquire and possess a restricted or grandfathered footnote 2 prohibited firearm, Authorizations to Transport (ATT) [a permission normally granted by the CFO] for six specific purposes were automatically applied to affected licences. They are as follows: transporting the firearm to its storage place (usually home) after purchase (purpose 1); to and from a gunsmith, a gun show, a Canadian port of entry or exit (2, 3, 4); transportation to a peace officer or CFO for verification, registration or disposal (5); and to and from all CFO-approved shooting clubs or ranges within the individual's province/territory of residence (6) [except if the firearm is part of a collection, or if it is a prohibited firearm other than a prohibited handgun referred to in subsection 12(6.1) of the Firearms Act].

The Act amends the Firearms Act to restrict automatic ATTs to only the two most common transport purposes: to a shooting club or range within the licence holder's province/territory; and, to an owner's storage place following a purchase. In all other cases, individuals will once again need to obtain an ATT from the CFO. This change enhances the ability of law enforcement to determine whether or not individuals are transporting restricted and prohibited firearms for a good and sufficient reason. ATTs are not required for non-restricted firearms, which represent approximately 90% of the firearms owned by Canadians.


Following royal assent of the Act in June 2019, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's (RCMP) Canadian Firearms Program (CFP) needed time to prepare for implementation. In particular, information management (IM) and information technology (IT) systems changes needed to be developed. Updates to the CFP's core digital systems — including the Canadian Firearms Information System (CFIS), as well as the Individual Web Services (IWS) and the Business Web Services (BWS) portals — were needed to operationalize changes to licence application forms that would support lifetime background checks. The RCMP also needed to create a new online application form for ATTs and to reprint licence card holders for approximately 340 000 licensees to reflect new conditions with respect to automatic ATTs. These IT system changes have been completed.

The coming-into-force date of July 7, 2021, reflects the fact that these measures are considered reasonably simple to implement and have been in the public domain since royal assent (June 2019). Neither provision requires corresponding regulatory changes, and they are straightforward to implement now that the IM and IT changes are ready. In the case of background checks, minor changes have been made to the licence application and renewal forms. For the ATT provisions, a telephone-based application process already exists, to be supplemented by an online application option via IWS that will be available in the spring of 2022. All licensees will be informed of these changes by email and provided with links to the new forms and resources on CFP's website.

Impact on firearm owners

As a result of the legislative amendments related to background checks taking effect, applicants for new or renewed firearms licences will have to answer slightly modified personal history questions when completing the relevant application form. The responses provided by applicants will be used by the CFP and CFOs in conjunction with other data sources, principally the Canadian Police Information Database, to assess applicants against all of the revised eligibility criteria. In the vast majority of cases, these changes are not expected to add more than an additional five minutes (i.e. to provide more than five years of background information, in cases where there is more information to provide) to the time it would currently take to apply for a firearms licence or renewal. In 2020, there were approximately 400 000 new or renewed licences issued during the calendar year.

Similarly, the legislative amendments that would reduce the number of situations that qualify for automatic ATTs are expected to place minimal additional burden on licensees, given the small number of applications that are anticipated. Approximately 97% of trips requiring transport of a restricted or prohibited firearm are from point of acquisition to place of storage (usually the owner's residence), or between that place and an authorized shooting range within the owner's province of residence.

Consequently, fewer than 3% of trips will newly require an individual ATT. It is unlikely that this would amount to more than 6 000–10 000 ATT requests per year nationwide. In the vast majority of cases, an ATT request may be submitted and approved in under five minutes by contacting the CFO of jurisdiction through the CFP call centre. Additionally, in spring 2022, an online application for individual ATTs will be made available through the CFP's IWS portal, which is expected to simplify the ATT application process and reduce administrative burden on the CFP. With a telephone ATT application, a call centre Firearms Services Agent (FSA) must interact with the applicant and complete the data entry, and then submit the form for processing. The online application form will enable the applicant to complete the data entry by themselves and submit the form, taking the FSA out of the equation. Stakeholders will be notified once the online portal is available both through email and via a public announcement on CFP's website.


As part of the development of Bill C-71 amendments, the GoC consulted a broad range of groups and individuals. For example, the Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee (CFAC), which met three times on the matter between March 2017 and March 2018, was consulted. Committee members have included civilian firearm users, farmers, hunters and sport shooters, law enforcement, public health organizations, women's groups, a representative from an Indigenous organization, and the legal community. In addition, a National Summit on Gun and Gang Violence was held in Ottawa on March 7, 2018, with stakeholders and partners across Canada.

Further, stakeholders had an opportunity to appear before, and provide submissions to, the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security and the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence when Bill C-71 was under review in Parliament.


Firearms and Operational Policing Policy Division
Email: ps.firearms-armesafeu.sp@ps-sp.gc.ca