Testimony of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec to the Board of Review Inquiring into the Nature and Characteristics of Baby Walker

The Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) is participating in the inquiry by appearing before the Board, submitting evidence and making representations.

The INSPQ is affected by the Order of the Governor in Council, which prohibits the advertising, sale or importation of baby walkers within the meaning of section 9 of the Hazardous Products Act, for the following reasons: The INSPQ is an organization that was created in June 1998. It is a public health expertise and reference centre for Quebec. Its goal is to contribute to the advancement of knowledge and to propose intersectoral strategies and actions to improve population health and well-being. Trauma is a particular area of focus for the INSPQ. Since baby walkers represent a major safety issue, any legislative change that is likely to increase access to these products is of the highest concern to us. Moreover, the INSPQ attaches particular importance to one of the objectives of Quebec's national public health program, which is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with falls and other injuries in the home by 2012.

Out of concern for the safety of infants and in order to ensure that safety standards established to date are maintained, the INSPQ has decided to appear before the Board in order to emphasize the important public health arguments that need to be taken into account with respect to this issue, as well as to put forward recommendations. In our testimony, we will examine the reasons that lead parents to purchase walkers for their babies and will seek to determine whether these devices actually promote psychomotor development.

We will then look at the hazards associated with walkers, even those that comply with the American Standards for Testing Materials (ASTM) standard established in the United States in 1997, and will present our position with regard to the need to maintain the Order adopted by Canada in 2004.

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