On December 15, 2010 the new Canada Consumer Product Safety
Act (CCPSA) received royal assent. It is expected to come into
force in the next few months under an accelerated schedule for
The CCPSA makes very sweeping changes to the way product safety
will be dealt with in Canada. The CCPSA will replace Part I of the
Hazardous Products Act (Canada) and is intended to
strengthen and modernize the 40 year old product safety law and to
provide Canadian consumers with a similar level of protection as
that which consumers in the United States and Europe currently
enjoy. According to Health Canada, the government department
responsible for the implementation and management of the
CCPSA, the purpose of the CCPSA is to
"protect the public by addressing or preventing dangers to
human health or safety that are posed by consumer products,
including those made in and that circulate within Canada and those
that are imported".
Broad Scope of the Act
The CCPSA is very broad in its scope and will apply to
"consumer products" which includes a product, its parts,
accessories or components that may be reasonably expected to be
obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes
– for example: the manufacture, distribution, sale, and
advertising of pens, key chains, cameras, jewellery, clothing and
virtually any other consumer product you can imagine (with some
specific exceptions such as vehicles, cosmetic, drugs, weapons,
food, and agricultural related products).
The wording of the CCPSA is so broad that even
companies that distribute consumer products to one or more persons
whether or not the distribution is made for consideration
will be required to comply with the legislation. This would include
any company that gives away promotional items for free.
The new legislation will have significant impact on the
manufacturers, importers and retailers of consumer products as well
as those who advertise, test, package or label consumer products
and those that distribute products for free. It also gives the
Federal Government the ability to recall products.
What You Need to Know if You Advertise, Package, Label, Test or
Give Away Consumer Products
In addition to the impacts on those in the distribution chain
for consumer products, any person that advertises, packages or
labels products and those that distribute products for free
will have significant new obligations and responsibilities. For
It is an offence under the CCPSA to package, label, or
advertise consumer products in a manner that creates "an
erroneous impression regarding the fact that it is not a danger to
human health or safety" or that is misleading "regarding
its certification related to its safety or its compliance with a
safety standard or regulations". It is also an offence to sell
such a product.
It is an offence for a person to advertise or sell (including
giving a product away for free) a consumer product that they know
is a danger to human health or safety, or is the subject of a
recall or order under the CCPSA.
Any person who advertises or tests a consumer product (along
with those that manufacture, import or sell consumer products) for
commercial purposes must prepare and maintain documentation
concerning the product as provided in the CCPSA and
Any person who manufactures, imports or sells a product for
commercial purposes has a positive obligation to report
"incidents". "Incidents" include actual and
possible serious adverse health effects resulting from the product,
mislabelling, and recalls in other jurisdictions.
The penalties for offences under the CCPSA are
significant including fines of up to $5 million and prison terms of
2 years. In cases where the offence is committed by a corporate
entity any directors, officers, agents or mandataries who directed,
authorized, assented to or acquiesced in or participated in the
commission of the offence are liable on conviction to the
punishment provided even if they were not individually prosecuted
for the offence.
Recommendations to Businesses
Businesses should start reviewing their advertising, packaging
and labelling practices and policies, as well as internal policies
for due diligence procedures when choosing suppliers and
promotional products for distribution, to determine how to comply
with the CCPSA. In addition, the terms of existing
third-party contracts for advertising, packaging, labelling and
promotional product supply should be reviewed and re-negotiated if
required to ensure risks and obligations under the CCPSA
are dealt with and new standard clauses for such agreements should
be considered for further risk mitigation. Steps need to be taken
now as efforts to effect compliance could require substantial lead
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