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.
MINISTER LEONA AGLUKKAQ
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.