The Canadian Press
OTTAWA – The federal government can remove unsafe products from store shelves under new rules now in effect after years of delays.
Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act was proclaimed into law last year after years in the legislative process, where it was stalled by the Senate and three federal elections in five years.
After six months of information sessions for industry, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq outlined changes to the 40-year-old act during a Monday news conference at an Ottawa toy store.
Under the revisions, federal ministers have new powers to pull unsafe toys, sporting goods, cribs and some other household products off shelves.
Under the old act, the government could only request that suppliers take action.
The changes do not affect products such as food, drugs, or autos and auto parts. They come under other legislation.
“As a mom, the new legislation gives me more confidence in the toys and products I give to my child,” Aglukkaq said.
A government official said the new rules put Canada more in line with how other countries, particularly the United States, deal with unsafe products.
As well, Ottawa can require manufacturers and importers to provide test and study results on their products, and report serious incidents.
The act also allows the government to prevent the importation of products believed to pose a danger to the public.
It took too long to make the changes said Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, an organization that has lobbied for passage of the act.
“For consumers, this is very much a good thing,” he said. “It’s long overdue and very welcome and I think this will be a great benefit to all Canadians.”
The inadequacies of the old law were brought home in 2009 with the recall of Canadian-made Stork Craft baby cribs following reports of more than a dozen incidents, including four child suffocations in the U.S. Canada only learned of the incidents from American regulators.
The Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association expressed support for the legislation. Environmental Defence welcomed the revisions.
“This is great news for anyone who cares about product safety and protecting the health and welfare of Canadians,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
“It’s high time Canada caught up with places like the United States and Europe in protecting its citizens.”
There are more than 14,000 pediatric emergency-room visits each year by children under the age of 10 injured by consumer products found in and around the home.
The government has been informing industry for six months of its new obligations and requirements to help ensure a smooth transition.
Information sessions have been held across the country and a number of resources, including a quick-reference guide, have been posted on Health Canada’s website.
Industry responsibilities now include mandatory reporting of consumer product-related incidents