Montreal Gazette

New safety measures unveiled on playpens, magnets, drug labels

Committed to helping families, minister says


OTTAWA — Health Canada has imposed tougher constructi­on standards on playpens, as Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq Tuesday announced a shopping list of plans aimed at improving health and safety for families.

“For those who are parents, you know the importance of a good playpen,” said Aglukkaq in a speech. “It’s a secure place for your child to play while you make dinner or tackle your never-ending list of chores.”

The new standards relate to both constructi­on and safety features. Proposed changes would include increased requiremen­ts on the sideheight and strength of playpens, and more regulation of locking mechanisms.

Informatio­n released by Health Canada also says “strict safety standards” will be set on playpen accessorie­s such as change tables and sleep accessorie­s.

As well, Aglukkaq said Health Canada plans to remove f rom store shelves small, powerful magnets that are present in some desktop toys. These can be extremely dangerous if swallowed by children. Health Canada has said that the magnets can attract each other — inside the body — if more than one is swallowed. Because this can cause serious damage to the digestive tract, and pose a risk to children, their presence in the marketplac­e is considered a violation of the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

The most recent release of a child injury report from the Public Health Agency of Canada in 2009 mentioned extensivel­y the dangers magnets pose to children.


Aglukkaq said that the new directives are part of the government’s commitment to support health and safety for Canadian families.

“I believe the role of gov-

“For those who are parents, you know the importance of a good playpen.”

ernment is to support families first and foremost by providing the right informatio­n to people so they can make informed decisions about their health,” said Aglukkaq. “But I also believe government should play a role by taking action that Canadians cannot reasonably be expected to do themselves.”

The government also plans to ensure clearer labelling on prescripti­on drugs, Aglukkaq said, to help prevent accidental misuse. One in 10 visits to the emergency room is a result of prescripti­on drug misuse, she said.

“We are working on improving drug naming practices,” said Aglukkaq. “This will help reduce the number of products that are confused because their names look or sound alike.”

She also outlined steps that would be taken to improve standards for reporting adverse drug reactions.

Meanwhile, the government also plans to introduce a third surveillan­ce site to its food-borne illness tracking network, which is called CEnterNet.

C-EnterNet already has one facility in the Waterloo region of Ontario and a second in the Fraser region of British Columbia. These facilities collect and analyze informatio­n on food-borne illness in humans from communitie­s across the country, and to track the illness over time.

In addition, samples are taken from produce and meats in grocery stores, as well as from manure on farms and water from fresh water beaches, in an attempt to determine the source of illnesses.

The new surveillan­ce site is expected to be operationa­l by the late fall of 2013.

Sylwia Krzyszton, a spokespers­on for the Public Health Agency of Canada, said the expansion of the C-EnterNet program is in line with recommenda­tions given in the Weatherill report. Sheila Weatherill was an independen­t expert appointed to look into the listeriosi­s outbreak that in 2008 killed 23 Canadians.

 ?? FRED CHARTRAND/ THE CANADIAN PRESS ?? Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says drug products are confusing because their names look or sound alike.
FRED CHARTRAND/ THE CANADIAN PRESS Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says drug products are confusing because their names look or sound alike.

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