Although the recently enacted Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (the “CCPSA”) received Royal Assent in late 2010, and came into force on June 20, 2011, little substantive commentary has been forthcoming on its practical application to Canadian businesses.

By way of background, the CCPSA requires industry to provide information to Health Canada and to the product’s supplier (as applicable to a reseller of products in Canada), concerning consumer product safety incidents or product defects that result, or could reasonably be expected to result, in death or harmful health effects. This “early warning” provision also applies to inadequate labelling or instructions that could lead to the same results, and to recall orders or other corrective measures initiated in other jurisdictions for human health or safety reasons.

The new law applies to a wide variety of consumer products including children’s toys, household products and sporting goods, but excludes products like motor vehicles and their integral parts, food, drugs (including natural health products) and animals, as these are regulated by other Canadian laws.

It is important to note, that in order that unsafe products can be traced back to their source, the CCPSA requires those who manufacture, import, advertise, sell or test consumer products for commercial purposes to prepare and maintain certain documents. Normally, these records would already be part of regular business practice.

The scope of the new provisions of the CCPSA can be summarized as follows:

a)      Information on Product Safety: Health Canada can require manufacturers or importers to provide or obtain safety information – including studies or tests – that indicate whether a consumer product meets the requirements of the CCPSA.

b)      General Prohibition: Under the Act, there are prohibitions related to the manufacture, importation, sale or advertisement of consumer products that could pose an unreasonable danger to the health or safety of Canadians.

c)       Packaging and Labelling: Under the CCPSA there are prohibitions related to the packaging, labelling or advertisement of a consumer product in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive in respect of its safety.

The revised legislation moves consumer protection in Canada forward, by introducing the following enhanced powers:

a)      Ability to order recall and other corrective measures.

b)      Record-keeping to allow traceability in the event of a recall.

c)       Mandatory reporting by industry of “incidents” related to their products (including near misses).

d)      Ability to require tests and studies to verify compliance or prevent non-compliance.

e)      Sharing/disclosure of information.

f)       Increased fines and penalties including an administrative monetary penalties scheme (AMPs).

g)      New ” General Prohibition”.

For further information on the CCPSA, please contact Paul S.O. Barbeau or Nicola Collins.