Canadian Home Video Rating System

Canadian Home Video Rating System

The Canadian Home Video Rating System (CHVRS) is a voluntary rating classification system applied to home video products such as VHS and DVDs. It is administered by the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association (CMPDA) and as such they appear on American home videos distributed in Canada and not genuine Canadian home videos. Ratings are "averaged" from those assigned by participating provincial film boards: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), Ontario and Saskatchewan (whose ratings are determined by British Columbia) and applied by the distributor to home video packaging.

Canadian ratings system

Canada has no standard rating system for the theatrical release of motion pictures; such controls lie in the jurisdiction of the provinces and is enacted through six film classification boards across the country. However, this system for home video (on cassette, DVD, etc.) came into effect in May 1995, at the initiative of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association in order to create a somewhat uniform Canadian ratings system. In addition, beginning in 2003, "information pieces" are applied depending on the pieces used by the provinces for a certain film.

While the CHVRS is a voluntary industry classification, various provinces may incorporate it into provincial legislation regarding home video sales and rentals, and it is found on most commercial products. Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the Maritime provinces have regulations requiring CHVRS labelling or the equivalent, while British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario do not, although most or all provinces have additional regulations regarding the labelling and display of adult video material.

In Quebec, a separate classification system is in effect under provincial law and administered by the [ Régie du cinéma Québec] . All home video products sold in that province must be appropriately labelled.


The CHV rating system is as follows:

Information Pieces

The information pieces are as follows:

Not Recommended For Young Children - The film may be inappropriate for young children. An example might be the death of a family pet, a complicated family breakdown, or images considered frightening or disturbing for the very young. "Young Children" would be persons age 8 and under.

Not Recommended For Children - The film may include scenes that reflect a more mature situation, such as drug use/abuse. "Children" would be persons age 13 and under.

Frightening Scenes - The film contains images that might shock or frighten a person. These scenes might be found in a thriller, suspense or war genre.

Mature Theme - Contains images or storylines that may be disturbing or incomprehensible to minors. The film may contain portrayals of domestic violence, racism, religious matters, death, or controversial social issues.

Coarse Language - Product contains profanity, threats, slurs, sexual references, or sexual innuendo.

Crude Content - Material or humour that is unrefined or coarse and that may be seen as harsh, rude, or offensive.

Nudity - Contains images of full frontal, partial, or rear nudity. Context will be determined by the situation, clarity, detail, repetition, and whether the nudity is in a non-sexual or sexual situation.

Sexual Content - Film may contain images and/or verbal references of sexual themes, sexual innuendo, fondling, implied sexual activity and simulated sexual activity.

Violence - May contain restrained portrayals of non-graphic violence, portrayals of violence with some bloodletting and/or tissue damage, and frequent more prolonged portrayals of violence resulting in bloodletting and tissue damage. The degree, frequency and intensity of the acts of violence will be factors in the classification decision.

Disturbing Content - Indicates the expected natural reaction by an audience to any elements of a film, including the tone of a film, pertaining to distress or suffering. This includes the implication or threat of physical and/or psychological violence, even when violence is not depicted.

Substance Abuse - Descriptive scenes depicting the use of illegal substances, the excessive use of tobacco or the use of alcohol resulting in impairment.

Gory Scenes - Graphic images of bloodletting and/or tissue damage. Includes horror or war representations. Degree, frequency, and intensity will also be a major factor in the classification decision.

Explicit Sexual Content - Sexual acts, shown in full, clear, unequivocal and realistic detail, that may or may not be gratuitous to the film.

Brutal Violence - Visually explicit portrayals of violence, which may be characterized by extreme brutality, extreme bloodletting and/or extreme tissue damage. May include images of torture, horror or war.

Sexual Violence - The degradation of an individual in a sexual manner. May contain images of non-consensual acts with the intent to inflict harm, for example, simulated rape, and/or the use of threat to force compliance in sexual activity.

Language May Offend - Contains language that may be offensive to some groups, ie. sacrilegious language such as Goddamn; also used for PG films that contain expletives.


In order to determine an average rating, a numerical value is applied to each of the five rating classifications. The eight participating provincial ratings are applied the appropriate numerical value and then an average is calculated. For example, if a film receives five 14As and three 18As, the numerical values would be 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 4 (the Maritimes count as three provinces and Saskatchewan is counted separately from British Columbia) which gives an average of 3.4 which would equate to a 14A Canadian Home Video Rating.


The rating symbols are embedded in the artwork or stickers applied to the packaging by the distributor. When the system was introduced in 1995, many of the provinces did not use a rating similar to the 18A (or in some cases, the R category). This results in numerous inconsistencies and misprints. For example, the film "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is printed as having an average rating of R, when in reality it would have received an 18A from the provinces had the rating existed at the time as there is no explicit sexual activity, torture, extreme violence or horror in the film. An example of a simple misprint, "In the Heat of the Night" received a PA (ages 15+) rating in Manitoba, AA (ages 14+) in Ontario and an A (ages 14+) in the Maritimes. The average of these ratings would equate to a 14A however, the packaging states that the rating average is R. "The French Connection", "Hannibal", "The Shining"--Special Edition and "The Outsiders" (18A should be 14A), "The Fifth Element", "The Last of the Mohicans", "National Lampoon's Vacation" - 20th Anniversary Edition, ' and "Speed" (PG should be 14A), "Eyes Wide Shut--Special Edition" and ' (18A should be R), "Porky's" - 25th Anniversary Edition, "We Own the Night", and "" (14A should be 18A), "When Harry Met Sally..." (R should be 14A), and "Die Hard" (R should be 18A) are more examples of misprinted ratings. Some ratings have since been corrected; for example, the "True Lies" VHS had a rating of R, but the DVD has been corrected and reads as a 14A.

External links

* [ The Canadian Home Video Rating System] at the CMPDA webpage.

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