moved that Bill C-220, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Mr. Speaker, it is with great hope that I rise today to lead off Private Members' Business on Bill C-220, an act to amend the Hazardous Products Act.
I first introduced this bill in June 1993 and reintroduced it on March 7, 1994. The bill is in direct response to a tragic accident in my riding which claimed the life of the 6-year old son of constituents of mine, Robert and Maria Weese of Wallaceburg. I am pleased to say that they will be in the gallery this morning with their children, son Craig, daughters Paula and Kelly.
On June 15, 1992 their son Mark was killed by a poorly designed, poorly maintained portable soccer net. The bill's sole intention is to prevent further tragedies, because the incident in my riding was only one of many. Bill C-220 would oblige users of soccer goals, handball goals and field hockey goals to fix them to the ground so that they do not easily tip over, causing injury or death.
I acknowledge that the bill as specifically written needs additional measures to make it more effective. Today in private members' hour I believe that by raising awareness of this issue and this concern, the rationale and intent of the bill will be established and proven.
I have met with staff and officials from the office of the hon. Minister of Health and I want to thank the minister for her guidance and assistance in this matter. We will all work together to increase the safety of our children. I look forward to pursuing this issue with the minister in the months ahead.
As well, I want to take this opportunity to commend Robert and Maria Weese for their important and heartfelt efforts. They have sent over a thousand letters to soccer associations all across Canada and internationally outlining the dangers of portable nets. The Weeses have compiled some disturbing examples about accidents involving portable equipment.
Since 1979 there have been 15 deaths and five serious injuries in the U.S., but unfortunately there are no Canadian figures, as no one group compiles them, not school boards, not recreation associations.
We have a hodge-podge, a patchwork of information across Canada. One of our main goals must be to increase the amount of information available to users of portable nets.
Bill C-220 is based on recommendations of the coroner's jury inquest in October 1992 after a 14-year old boy was killed by a portable net. This needless death occurred fully four months before Mark Weese's. Why were the recommendations of the inquest not followed?
I was just informed that there was another regrettable death in New Brunswick last month and on October 3 a 12-year old boy died in Detroit, Michigan as a result of a portable soccer goal falling on his chest. Three years ago there was an incident in Newfoundland.
I would like to read into the record the eight recommendations of the Wallaceburg inquest. Before I do I want to suggest that these statements are totally logical and apply common sense. They should have already been in practice before tragedy called attention to this issue.
One, portable goals for indoor use should be made of lightweight materials and either counterweighted with sandbags or anchored with a flexible anchoring system which allows the goal to move in a lateral direction but not tip over.
Two, portable goals for outdoor use should have an anchoring device to allow for stability during the game and which will allow the goal to be stored.
Three, the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs should amend the Hazardous Products Act to include the equipment and to acquire a standards program from the Canadian Standards Association in order to ensure that manufacturers' products meet minimum safety standards.
Four, suppliers should ensure that all of this equipment meets CSA standards before shipping to purchaser.
Five, consumer and corporate affairs should be notified by coroners' offices, hospitals and police departments immediately of death or catastrophic injuries resulting from accidents involving sports equipment, and they in turn should use their computer system which can have the capacity to highlight incidents and advise the ministry of education, boards of education, the ministry of tourism and recreation, municipalities, associations, suppliers and distributors.
Six, permanent manufacturers' labels should be clearly displayed indicating manufacturer, address and year of manufacture.
Seven, any cautionary advice regarding equipment use and handling should be clearly displayed separately and in a contrasting colour. It should also appear prominently on all product documentation.
Eight, qualified independent safety inspections should be conducted on an annual basis and following repairs or modifications inspection records should be kept on file by the user.
Those are the eight recommendations from October 1992 and yet they are still to be fully implemented. I want to draw attention to this fact by bringing this bill to the House for discussion.
Injury accidents are now the number one killer of children nationwide. In the U.S. they take about 7,200 lives a year. Another 50,000 children suffer permanent injury. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned in September 1992 that movable soccer goals can tip over and kill children who climb on them or pull up on the cross bar. In some cases an unanchored goal gets blown down by a gust of wind.
There was a meeting last week of the safety commission in Washington, D.C. It was attended by Canadian representatives who are working with our American colleagues to increase the level of information available and create policies to revamp needless tragedies in the future.
Currently the U.S. safety commission has published a handbook for public playground safety. In chapter 5, subsection 1.1 it notes that secure anchoring is the key factor to stable installation. When properly installed, equipment should withstand the maximum anticipated forces generated by active youth which might cause it to overturn, tip, slide or move in any way.
The Canadian Standards Association has issued guidelines for preventing playground accidents to ensure that equipment is safe. The CSA emphasizes that the base of equipment should be anchored firmly below the ground.
It suggests that parents ask their local municipality or school board how often it inspects equipment. The CSA recommends a daily visual inspection, a more detailed monthly inspection and a comprehensive inspection handling.
Distribution of safety information is the key to all of this but it must get to everyone. There was a fatal net accident in Toronto in 1992. A month later, the net manufacturer, Sports Equipment of Toronto Limited, a national supplier of institutional sporting goods and gymnasium equipment, issued a notice stating that soccers goals, handball goals and field hockey goals be anchored securely to the floor or playing field when in use and stored in such a manner that they will not fall over when not in use.
I commend the company for the urgent notice but it was only sent to school boards in Ontario. It did not extend its warning to municipalities, parks or recreation departments.
In the U.S. officials are coming up with a variety of methods to increase the safety of nets.
According to an article in the Detroit News of April 18, 1993 the Fairfax county, Virginia public school system has become a national leader in implementing the two safeguards that experts consider essential: anchors and warning labels.
Every portable soccer goal in the district has warning labels, black, red and bright yellow. The labels warn that climbing on goals or failing to anchor goals can cause serious injury or death. The Virginia School Board even purchased a corkscrew type anchor about 12 inches long. It is easy to put in and hard to take out.
The institute for the study of youth at the University of Michigan says that no games should be played on fields where goals have not been anchored. The institute wants a local bylaw passed to make the home team coach responsible for anchoring both soccer goals before the start of the scheduled match. If this is not complied with, the match is forfeited.
It is worthwhile to point out that some manufacturers are forming a coalition for safe soccer goals and have begun making models that collapse when not in use. I hope that in Canada we are going in the same direction.
Again, I commend the Weeses for their commitment and dedication and their dogged pursuit of safety during what must be trying times. They have formed a volunteer group in Wallaceburg called PARCS, Parents Assuming Responsibility for Children's Safety. As well, the town of Wallaceburg has undertaken a comprehensive review of park equipment. I applaud it for that but it is not universal. On a recent trip around southern Ontario the Weeses found potentially dangerous and unsafe equipment in Woodstock, St. Thomas and Goderich.
They have written letters to the communities and want the posts fixed. This grassroots, local, neighbour to neighbour effort is to be encouraged, praised and honoured. We need the power of government to lend a helping hand. We must manufacture safer nets and then inform all users of the standards for safety. We
cannot leave it up to the goodwill and good thoughts but to concrete action on the part of regulatory bodies and standards associations.
I welcome the comments of my colleagues on this bill, but more important is the issue symbolized by Bill C-220. If we can prevent one death or tragedy through our discussion this morning then it is all to the good.
Second, it is the purpose of Private Members' Business to allow any member from any party to raise awareness on an issue. It is important to our ridings and to the country at large. In the short time we have this morning I believe we will succeed on both counts.
I am honoured to speak on behalf of my constituents regarding Bill C-220 because it is due to their initiative that this member of Parliament gets the privilege to discuss the bill in the first place.
On a personal note, two years ago I bought a gym set for our grandchildren. The little people are one step ahead of us all the time. It was two swings, a sway bar and a slide. The youngest is three and the other two are four. They found by swinging in unison, they could bring the tripods that held this playstand off the ground. I was in a state of shock.
We have to watch the little people. I think they are more intelligent than we are. They were able to bring the stand two feet off the ground on either side as they were swinging. I made them stop. I was able to get bars that would latch on to the stands, which were 24 inches in depth. I drove them into the ground to support the stand.
The company that built these stands should have included stakes to make them more safe. If 10 or 12-year old children had been on that swing they would have flipped it over quite easily. These little ones at the ages of three and four were certainly working their way up to flipping it over when I made them stop.
We are not aware of the dangers unless we are there to see what can happen even in our own yards. We should support this bill. It lets people know exactly what is happening throughout the country. Children at schools and playgrounds are being killed when they can easily be saved for very few pennies.
Once again, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for giving me the time to speak on the bill this morning. I await hearing other speakers.