Tougher consumer protection bill lauded

Consumer and industry groups are applauding a consumer bill that would allow the federal government to order the recall of dangerous goods, rather than rely on voluntary initiatives by industry.

Consumer and industry groups are applauding a new federal bill aimed at protecting Canadian consumers.

The bill, introduced Wednesday by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, would allow the federal government to order the recall of dangerous goods, rather than relying on voluntary initiatives by industry.

"Canada needs the tools to be able to rapidly respond to dangerous consumer products in the marketplace and this legislation will allow that to happen," said Shannon Coombs of the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association.

The CCSPA represents companies that process, package and distribute consumer goods. 

Environmental Defence, a group focused on protecting the environment and human health, also gives a thumbs-up to the legislation.

"It's high time Canada caught up with places like the United States and Europe in protecting its citizens," said Environmental Defence executive director Rick Smith.

"This is great news for anyone who cares about product safety and protecting the health and welfare of Canadians," he said.

Along with allowing mandatory recalls, the legislation would prohibit the manufacture, importation or marketing of any product deemed unsafe to human health.

That provision, in theory, would prevent the importation and sale of products containing cadmium or lead, which have been common in the Canadian market.

New regulations will also require manufacturers or importers to quickly inform the government if a product is linked to a serious incident or death.

It would also be an offence to package or label consumer goods with false or misleading safety claims.

3rd attempt at consumer legislation

This is the Conservative government's third attempt at passing legislation to replace the 40-year-old Hazardous Products Act.

The first legislation was tabled in April 2008 but didn't make it through Parliament due to an election call in the fall of 2008.

The second attempt died in December 2009 when Parliament was prorogued at the prime minister's request.

Aglukkaq wants Parliament to give unanimous support to the bill.

"We support the swift passage of this legislation," said Coombs.