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Canada Introduces Product Safety Bill

Published July 22, 2010

OTTAWA, Ontario (BRAIN)—The Canadian government has introduced a bill designed to beef up Canada's consumer product safety laws. The proposed legislation establishes new regulatory measures for suppliers to report incidents and defects related to health and safety.

“What it’s trying to do is really to bring the Canadian consumer law more in line with the U.S. law,” said Paul Laurenza, an attorney in Dykema’s Washington, DC office who specializes in consumer product regulations.

Laurenza said Health Canada, Canada’s consumer safety division, already interacts closely with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to jointly issue voluntary recalls. But while the CPSC has the ability to issue a mandatory product recall if necessary, Health Canada has not had that authority. Under the proposed legislation Health Canada would have that backup authority, if it was ever needed, to order a recall, Laurenza said.

In addition to empowering Health Canada to recall dangerous consumer products, the new proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) would:

—prohibit the manufacture, importation, advertisement or sale of any consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human health or safety;

—require industry to quickly inform the government when they discover one of their products is linked to a serious incident, death, or product safety issue;

—require manufacturers or importers to provide test/study results on products when asked;

—make it an offense to package or label consumer products that make false or deceptive health or safety claims;

—require companies to retain documents to help trace products throughout the supply chain;

—and raise fines and penalties for non-compliance.

Laurenza said the one aspect of the bill, Bill C-36, that’s potentially troubling is the requirement for a company to report if one of its products is linked to a serious accident. He said the Canadian requirement to report an accident as written is more stringent than the U.S. reporting requirement because it would mandate reporting even if the accident isn’t indicative of a product defect.

“Canada is proposing similar mandatory reporting but they also have a provision requiring reporting any occurrence that could result in death. On its face it could be read as any accident or incident is reportable, even if it has nothing to do with a defect in product, and that goes well beyond anything in U.S. law,” Laurenza said.

According to Laurenza, the Canadian requirement for timely reporting is also more stringent than the U.S. law. The CPSC gives companies 10 days to do a factual investigation and determine if an incident bears reporting to the CPSC. A company has 24 hours after completing its investigation to report the incident. The Canadian law gives companies just two days after becoming aware of an incident to report it.

“Two days is an extraordinarily short timeframe. To become aware of an incident and have to report within two days is extremely accelerated and well beyond U.S. requirements,” Laurenza said.

Laurenza said one would hope the Canadian government would streamline the regulations in the proposed bill to minimize the reporting burden on companies.

Health Canada is accepting input through October 1 on the mandatory reporting policy. The Bicycle Trade Association of Canada is reviewing the proposed bill and plans to submit comments on behalf of its members.

For more information, visit: (click on above link).

—Megan Tompkins

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