Bill C-6, the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (“CCPSA”), was tabled in Parliament on January 29, 2009. Bill C-6 is, by in large, the same legislation that was introduced as Bill C-52 in early 2008. Consultations with stakeholders however resulted in a number of changes to the original Bill.

The proposed legislation is intended to modernize and strengthen Canada’s product safety laws by overhauling existing rules to provide oversight of consumer products in Canada by improving the Government's ability to take compliance and enforcement actions when unsafe products are identified. Compliance with its provisions is encouraged through higher fines and increased penalties for violators.

The CCPSA will prohibit the manufacture, importation, advertisement and sale of consumer products posing an unreasonable danger to human health or safety. Mandatory reporting by suppliers of serious product-related incidents will be required even where death or serious injury may not have occurred. Health Canada will be empowered to respond more effectively to protect the Canadian public by, in addition to other actions, being able to order the recall of unsafe consumer products. All businesses involved in a supply chain will be required to maintain accurate records so that products can be easily traced for recall purposes.

With respect to imported consumer products, Health Canada will work with the Canada Border Services Agency to identify potentially unsafe consumer products at the time of importation and prior to distribution into the Canadian marketplace.

Budget 2009 provides for $113 million over a two year period to fund Health Canada’s action plan for safer products. In part, the Budget allocation will be used to support Health Canada’s intention to double the number of product safety inspectors over the next five years.

Given that Bill C-52 appeared to have the support of all parties in the House of Commons, it is expected that Bill C-6 will be placed on to the fast track for enactment by Parliament. Canadian businesses should therefore be considering the internal and external procedures and administrative support that will be required to ensure compliance with the CCPSA when it is proclaimed into law.

Caveat Venditor

The expression caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, is well known. However, with the proposed enactment of the Bill C-6, manufacturers, importers, distributors, advertisers and retailers will need to become familiar with the expression caveat venditor – let the seller beware. Fines and AMPs for offences and violations of Bill C-6 when enacted could be significant.