Manufacturers, importers, packagers, advertisers, distributors
and sellers of consumer products take note of the Canada Consumer
Product Safety Act (the Act) which will come into force on June 20,
The Act, touted as updated legislation adopting modern tools and
techniques that strengthen protection and bring Canada's
consumer product safety system into line with key trading partners,
is administered by Health Canada. The Act places responsibility on
the industry for the safe manufacture, import, packaging, storing,
advertising, labelling, testing, transportation and sale of
consumer products. Consumer products include children's toys,
household products, recreational and sporting goods, as well as
their packaging. The Act does not apply to motor vehicles, food,
drugs, natural health products and animals already covered by other
Some of the key components of the Act include:
a) imposing an early warning reporting obligation to Health
Canada wherein information concerning safety incidents or product
defects that result, or could reasonably be expected to cause death
or have an adverse effect to an individual's health, including
injury. Similarly, once becoming aware of any incident related to
the consumer product, such person must provide information relating
to the product within two days after they become aware of the
b) requiring any person who manufactures, imports, advertises,
sells or tests a consumer product to maintain accurate records and
paperwork so that unsafe products can be traced back to their
source. These records are required to be kept in Canada unless an
exemption is obtained from the Minister. These reporting
requirements are more detailed at higher levels of trade.
c) requiring manufacturers or importers to provide or obtain
safety information that indicate whether a consumer product meets
the requirements under the Act. This includes information
concerning studies or tests.
d) prohibiting the manufacture, importation, sale or
advertisement of consumer products that could pose an unreasonable
danger to the health and safety of Canadians.
e) prohibiting the packaging, labelling or advertisement of a
consumer product in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive
in respect of its safety.
(f) effecting a recall as required by the Minister of
One of the key effects of the Act is that it provides the
Canadian government with a larger toolkit to take enforcement
action including to authorize mandatory recalls. The Act permits
the Minister of Health (the Minister) to order any
person who manufacturers or imports a consumer product for
commercial purposes to conduct tests and studies to provide
evidence of compliance with the Act. The Minister is also given
broad inspection powers under the Act to enter into any place of
business where a consumer product is manufactured, imported,
packaged, stored, advertised, sold, labelled, tested or
transported, to take samples, seize and detain any article, take
photographs and examine computer systems. According to Health
Canada, the number of product safety inspectors would be doubled.
The Canada Border Services Agency, the agency responsible for
enforcing the legislation governing the flow of persons and goods
across the Canadian border, will assist Health Canada with
additional targeted inspections of consumer products and shipments
from companies who have a history of poor compliance. According to
Health Canada, inspections will continue to be conducted according
to a strategic risk assessment approach and by working with the
Canada Border Services Agency, dangerous consumer products will not
be allowed to cross the border.
It is unclear how the Act will co-exist with existing federal
legislation such as the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act. The
Act has introduced a new regulatory regime that is intended to
address problems before they occur, to permit Health Canada to keep
a close watch on what they deem to be higher risk consumer products
and to grant the government broader powers to take immediate action
in enforcement. How the Act will be implemented, the use of the
Minister's broad discretionary powers and how it will affect
manufacturers and sellers of consumer products remains to be
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