Product Safety Bill too onerous, say lawyers
May 1, 2009
Martha Healey talks to Lawyers Weekly about the proposed Canada Consumer Product Safety Act’s intent to modernize and strengthen product safety laws.
The federal government is poised to pass a new piece of legislation designed to help protect Canadians and give potentially unprecedented powers to inspectors in the process.
"The new legislative proposal represents a sea of change that will subject hundreds of thousands of consumer products to direct government regulation for the first time," said Martha Healey, a partner with Ogilvy Renault LLP in Ottawa.
"The legislation also extends to anything used in the manufacturing, importation, packaging, storing, advertising, selling, labelling, testing or transportation of a consumer product," she added. "Bill C-6 reaches beyond manufacturers and importers to sellers, testers, packagers and advertisers. Its extensive breadth encompasses non-commercial sellers and even persons giving away used goods."
Sitting at the top of the list of concerns are safety inspectors who will wield an array of powers when the act becomes law. "The legislation is silent on the factors governing the development of product standards yet grants very wide discretion to inspectors appointed under the new legislation to issue recall and other remedial orders," said Healey. "This power is limited only by a vague requirement that the inspector believe 'on reasonable grounds' that the product is a danger to human health and safety."
The lack of procedural safeguards in the proposed legislation is in sharp contrast to the legislation in effect in the United States and in other jurisdictions," she added.
Ogilvy Renault joined international legal practice Norton Rose Group on June 1, 2011, and is now called Norton Rose OR LLP.