New consumer safety law gives Ottawa powers to recall unsafe toys, cribs

OTTAWA – New rules giving the federal government the power to remove unsafe products from store shelves take effect Monday after years of hold-ups.

Canada’s Consumer Product Safety Act was proclaimed into law a year ago after years of being stalled in the legislative process, including objections in the Senate, and because of the frequency of federal elections.

Starting Monday, when the law comes into force, federal ministers will be granted new powers to pull unsafe toys, sporting goods, cribs and some other household products off the shelves instead of just requesting producers do so.

The act does not affect products such as autos and their integral parts, food or drugs. They come under other legislation.

Under the old act, the government can only request that suppliers take action.

A government official said the new rules put Canada more in line with how other countries, particularly the United States, deal with unsafe products.

As well, Ottawa will be able to require that manufacturers and importers provide test and study results on their products, and report serious incidents.

The act also allows the government to prevent the importation of products believed to pose a danger to the public.

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Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has scheduled an event at a toy store in Ottawa on Monday to extol the changes to the 40-year-old act.

It took too long to make the changes said Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada, an organization that has lobbied incessantly for passage of the act.

“For consumers this is very much a good thing,” he said. “It’s long overdue and very welcome and I think this will be a great benefit to all Canadians.”

The inadequacy of the old law were brought home in 2009 with the recall of Canadian-made Stork Craft baby cribs following reports of more than a dozen incidents, including four child suffocations in the U.S. Canada only learned of the incidents from American regulators.

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