Canada's Law on Consumer Product Safety.

Date01 January 2020
AuthorFeng, Judy

In the past 2 months alone, you've probably heard about the recent food recall warnings on beef and romaine lettuce. Did you know that we have a law in Canada that deals with product safety and recalls?

The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act ("CCPSA") regulates consumer products that pose or might pose a danger to human health and safety. Since the CCPSA came into force on June 20, 2011, over 7,000 items have been recalled in Canada. Consumer products, food, health products and vehicles--you name it.

Before the CCPSA

Before the CCPSA (which was also known as Bill C-36), Part I of the Hazardous Products Act governed the health and safety of consumer products. Enacted in 1969, Part I of that Act covered products that were restricted through regulation or prohibited from being advertised, sold or imported into Canada.

The Act regulated approximately 30 products and product categories (for example, toys and chemicals) and prohibited 25 others (for example, baby walkers). For consumer products that posed a health or safety risk (but were not prohibited or regulated under the Act), it was up to industry to voluntarily issue and manage a product recall. The federal government's power was limited to issuing a public warning and, if necessary, taking steps to regulate or prohibit products under the Act. Not only were there concerns about the Act's limited application, there were concerns about it not keeping up with the swathe of consumer products entering the Canadian market.

2007 was a particularly rough year for product safety in Canada. Tainted pet food, spinach contaminated with E. coli, contaminated toothpaste and unsafe children's toys were among some of the 90 products recalled that year. To put that in perspective, there was almost 3 times the number of product recalls in 2007 compared to 2006. Compounded with increasing concerns about the global nature of the marketplace for consumer goods and other products, the federal government had to make decisions about modernizing Canada's approach to product safety. So in December 2007, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced the Food and Consumer Safety Action Plan and committed $113 million over two years to implement it.

The legislative path to what we now know as the CCPSA was a little bumpy. The government introduced two different bills to replace Part I of the Hazardous Products Act. One died when Parliament was dissolved in 2008 and the other died when Parliament was prorogued in 2009...

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