June 2012

Mandatory reporting to Health Canada

By Alexandre Lebeau Lawyer

The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), which aims to protect the health and safety of Canadians by addressing the dangers of consumer products, came into effect on June 21, 2011.

The CCPSA applies to all persons who manufacture, produce, formulate, repackage, prepare, recondition, import, sell, rent or distribute?even free of charge?a consumer product for commercial use.

Under the act, industry representatives must report consumer product incidents to Health Canada and the product supplier in the two (2) days following the date on which they become aware of the incident. Manufacturers and importers must also file a written report with Health Canada in the ten (10) days following the date on which they become aware of an incident (sections 14(2) and (3), CCPSA).

Incidents pertaining to a defect or characteristic of a product or incorrect or insufficient information on a label or instructions that resulted or are reasonably expected to result in death or serious adverse health effects (e.g. a lighter that cannot be shut off, candle wax that catches fire) must be reported (section 14(1), CCPSA).

A consumer product is defined in the CCPSA as a product, including its components, parts or accessories, which may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes (section 2, CCPSA).

It is important to note that the law does not apply to natural health products or tobacco products, except with regards to their ignition propensity. Other products such as explosives, cosmetics, medications, food products, medical instruments, vehicles, firearms and munitions, plants and animals are also excluded (section 4 and schedule 1, CCPSA).

There are heavy fines for those who contravene a provision of the act. In addition to civil action, the CCPSA calls for fines of up to $5 000 000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years on conviction. For a first offence, the act calls for fines of up to $250 000 and imprisonment for up to six months on summary conviction.

To report an incident, go to the Health Canada Web site at, call 1-866-662-0666 or send an e-mail to