On June 9, 2010, the federal government reintroduced for the
third time consumer protection legislation aimed at strengthening
Canadian consumer product safety law.1 Bill C-36, the
proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), is
intended to prevent and address dangers to human health or safety
posed by consumer products. The bill would establish a broad
prohibition against manufacturing, importing, advertising or
selling consumer products that pose an unreasonable hazard to human
health or safety.2 The bill is substantially similar to
previous versions of the legislation discussed in
Torys' December 2009 Food and Drug Regulatory Bulletin and
Torys' May 2008 Food and Drug Regulatory Bulletin.
Consumer products in Canada are currently regulated through a
patchwork of federal statutes and regulations, supplemented by
Health Canada's policies and guidelines. The primary
legislation governing consumer product safety is the federal
Hazardous Products Act.
Key Features of the CCPSA
Most of the key features of the CCPSA have not changed from the
previous versions of the legislation and are as follows:
It empowers the Minister of Health to order manufacturers and
importers to conduct product testing and to share test results and
other information with the Minister.
It requires industry to prepare and maintain documents to
facilitate product tracing.
It creates mandatory reporting obligations for manufacturers,
importers and sellers who know about a serious incident or death
resulting from a consumer product.
It empowers the Minister to disclose confidential business
information to certain government authorities, without consent or
notice, if there is a serious or an imminent danger to human health
It authorizes inspectors to enter premises and to seize and
detain products if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the
product poses a danger to human health or safety.
It provides significant fines and penalties for violating the
CCPSA. For example, if prosecutors proceed by way of indictment, a
person may be fined up to $5 million and/or imprisoned for up to
It holds directors and officers liable for offences committed
under the CCPSA. Section 42 states that officers and directors who
"direct, authorize, assent to, acquiesce in or participate in
the commission of an offence" are parties to the offence and
are liable for the same fines and penalties described above.
Differences Between Proposed CCPSA and Previous Versions
The proposed CCPSA contains a number of additional features that
were not in the earlier versions of the proposed legislation:
The powers of inspectors no longer include the right to order
recalls. Only the Minister of Health may initiate a product
Time limits are imposed on the Minister of Health. Under the
CCPSA, a person who is ordered to recall a consumer product or take
another measure may make a written request for review of that
order. Upon request, review of an order must be completed "no
later than 30 days after the day on which the request is provided
to the Minister." Previously, no time frame was explicitly
defined; rather, a review officer was required to complete the
review "within a reasonable time."
Bill C-36 is currently at its first reading and must therefore
go through the legislative process before it is enacted. If enacted
into law, Bill C-36 will establish Health Canada as a powerful
regulator over manufacturers, importers, sellers and advertisers of
consumer products in Canada.
1 The proposed legislation was first introduced by the
Harper government in April 2008 (as Bill C-52), but died in the
fall of 2008 when an election was called. It was then reintroduced
in January 2009 (as Bill C-6) and passed by both the House of
Commons and the Senate. As a result of the Senate's amendments
to the bill, it was sent back to the House for consideration but
Parliament was prorogued before this occurred.
2 The CCPSA does not apply to natural health products,
food, drugs, cosmetics or medical devices.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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