Canada to Introduce Tougher Product-Safety Laws

According to the Canadian Press, the federal government plans to introduce tougher product-safety laws in the new year in response to the notable recalls of imported toys, foods and drugs.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the new measures will include making importers responsible for the safety of what they bring into the country, under the threat of fines that could reach $1 million.

"Canadians shouldn't have to worry about the toys they're putting under the tree, they shouldn't have to worry about the food they eat and they shouldn't have to worry about drugs that may do more harm than good," Harper said.

The proposed changes would give the health minister powers to invoke mandatory product recalls when companies fail to act on their own.

"Under our current legislation, if a particular manufacturer refused to cooperate, refused to recall an unsafe product, there was no means by which the health minister could force a recall," said Health Minister Tony Clement.

"Under our proposed legislation, I could force a recall. I could ensure that the health and safety of Canadians comes first when it comes to toys or other consumer products."

Companies would also be required to provide consumers with better safety information, and to build safety checks throughout their supply chains.

As well, importers would be held responsible for the safety of goods brought into Canada. Maximum fines under the Food and Drug Act would increase from $5,000 up to current international standards.

Fines could be structured in defined dollar amounts or as a percentage of a company's income, Clement suggested.

"Most of our trading partners either have $1 million fines or it's a percentage of the operating revenues of the companies," he said. "That's what's used in the European Union, for instance."

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