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Sep. 30 – Canada: Liberal Senators wrangle over product safety legislation

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Liberal Senators are threatening to derail the government’s consumer product safety reforms over concerns that the legislation aimed to protect Canadians from unsafe products gives Health Canada inspectors too much power over businesses.

The bill passed in the House of Commons unanimously in June with the backing of all three opposition parties, but now the person stickhandling the bill in the Senate for the Liberal caucus said this “intrusive way of dealing with product safety” and “heavy-handed approach to a problem” must be tempered. “I’m at the stage where I hope that I can illustrate that there are going to have to be some amendments. Hopefully, either they withdraw this legislation or they come forward with appropriate amendments so we don’t have a mess here,” Liberal Senator Joseph Day said an in interview.

The bill is set to undergo scrutiny at a Senate committee beginning this week, and must pass the upper chamber, where Liberals have a majority of the seats, before becoming law. Day supports the provision in the bill that grants the government the power to order mandatory product recalls. Currently, Health Canada cannot force a company to recall a product, leaving it up to the business to issue a voluntary recall under Canada’s 40-year-old Hazardous Products Act, universally panned as outdated. But Day, in a public split from his Liberal colleagues in the House of Commons, said other key provisions in the bill granting sweeping powers to the health minister and departmental inspectors appear unconstitutional — and unfair to businesses.

We will keep you informed if any regulatory changes result.

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