Make products safer by making them in Canada: Steelworkers



    MPS urged to take toxic trade seriously as lead testing campaign
    kicks off

    OTTAWA, Nov. 8 /CNW/ - This holiday shopping season, a rising dollar
isn't the only thing on families' minds. In response to recalls of two million
unsafe toys, the United Steelworkers (USW) today called on MPs to give some
teeth to the Throne Speech promise to make imported products safer, starting
with importer-paid safety tests at the border.
    "When Canada ships good manufacturing jobs abroad and gets unsafe
products in return, there's a problem," said USW Canadian National Director
Ken Neumann. "Toxic toys come from toxic trade, and it's time Ottawa fixed the
dangers of deregulation."
    Neumann said lead is a good example of the problem. Thanks in part to the
USW, lead was removed from most North American manufacturing decades ago. But
now it's back, along with antifreeze chemicals in toothpaste, and pesticide
ingredients in baby soothers. In response, the government has done nothing.
    "So far, there's a website to check what products are unsafe, but nothing
to make sure things are safe to begin with," Neumann said. "That's why the
first step should be more importer-paid testing at the border so the money
saved on wages, material or environmental standards is partially recouped."
    Neumann noted that paint with lead is 40 per cent cheaper than paint
without.
    "Exporting Canadian manufacturing jobs overseas has resulted in toys
containing lead being imported into our living rooms," said Peggy Nash, the
NDP's industry critic. "Years of poorly drafted trade deals have resulted in
rush deregulation that threatens Canada's economy and Canadians' safety."
    She added her support for a new Toxic Import Protection Act, and said New
Democrats would keep pressure on the government for real protection that looks
at the whole problem.
    "Jobs, health and the environment aren't separate," she said. "Any parent
whose kid is chewing on a toy connects the dots. The government should, too."
    Neumann said it's one step towards levelling the field for Canadian
companies. More comprehensive measures would include empowering Health Canada
to recall products, more stringent regulation of toxins like lead and better
import controls of banned substances like lead. That's all allowed under the
WTO.
    "For years, we've been told unregulated trade solves all problems," he
said. "But 300,000 manufacturing jobs are gone and two million toys have been
recalled. With holiday shopping here, it's time Parliament got to work on
basic product security."
    To help, Steelworkers are offering lead testing kits for $3 on
www.stoptoxicimports.org. There, families can check recalled items and order
lead testers to double-check products about which they are unsure. It's part
of a push across North America to link a manufacturing job crisis to growing
unease with products made cheaply overseas.
    Earlier on Thursday, a home testing event took place in Ottawa.
Steelworkers assisted a local family test toys that were of concern to them.
The home-testing session was the first of five such events in Canada.





For further information:

For further information: www.stoptoxicimports.org; Pat Van Horne,
Steelworkers communications, (416) 544-5990; Ian Capstick, NDP caucus press
secretary, (613) 720-6400


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