It takes just over 22 centimetres of cord to strangle a child, 15 seconds for a child to become unconscious, four minutes for brain damage, and less than six minutes for death.
It also takes more than two years for manufacturers, importers and retailers to comply with new regulations to improve the safety of corded window coverings and reduce the risks that dangling cords pose to children.
New regulations promoting safety corded window coverings came into effect May 1, two years after they were passed, but, for the next year, Health Canada will emphasize promoting awareness of the new requirements, after Retail Council of Canada sought to postpone implementation of the new requirements for an additional year.
Health Canada published the new Corded Window Coverings Regulations in May 2019. It restricted the length of cords and the size of loops on window coverings sold in Canada to reduce the possibility of those cords and loops getting wrapped around a child’s neck. In making the announcement, Health Canada said it was aware of 39 deaths from corded window coverings since 1989, and said it had worked to address the issue for 30 years, through product recalls, warning labels, advisories, alerts and engaging with market participants.
The regulations were to take effect on May 1, 2021, “to give manufacturers, importers and retailers time to adjust to the new requirements.” Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor was quoted in the news release: “This is another example of the Government of Canada prioritizing the health and safety of Canadians as we continue to prevent dangers that are posed by consumer products in Canada and ensure all consumer products sold in this country met stringent safety requirements.”
However, the Retail Council of Canada struggled to comply with the new requirements, specifically the testing guidelines. In a December 2020 announcement, it noted that Health Canada had just published supplemental guidance photos to help retailers, test labs and manufacturers better understand the testing requirements included in the new regulations. RCC “advocated for a 12-month postponement with the coming into force date”, because of “the pandemic and significant delays in implementing the required changes at manufacturing.”
In that December release, RCC also noted that for the first year, Health Canada would focus its efforts on “education and promoting awareness of and compliance with the new regulations.” Virtually identical phrasing appeared in the Health Canada release May 1, announcing the new regulations had “come into force”.