This document provides information about the safety requirements that apply under the Toys Regulations to children's toys and related products manufactured, advertised, imported or sold in Canada.
This document is an unofficial summary of the safety requirements for children's toys under the Toys Regulations. It is not intended to substitute for, supersede or limit the requirements under the applicable legislation. In case of any discrepancy between this summary and the legislation, the legislation will prevail. For further information, contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).
To obtain information on the legislative requirements for children's toys and related products not covered in this document, refer to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and its Regulations listed under Appendix B - Information Resources.
This document may be updated from time to time. For the most recent version, consult Health Canada's website.
Children's toys and related products manufactured, imported, advertised or sold in Canada are subject to the CCPSA and the Toys Regulations.
In addition to the product-specific requirements noted in this document, it is prohibited to manufacture, import, advertise or sell any consumer product that is a "danger to human health or safety" as defined in the CCPSA (see paragraphs 7(a) and 8(a)).
The onus is on industry to comply with the legislation.
The Consumer Product Safety Program administers and enforces the CCPSA and the regulations made under it. Enforcement actions taken by Product Safety Officers on noncompliant products depend on the degree of hazard associated with noncompliance, and include commitment to product correction by industry, negotiation with industry for the voluntary removal of these products from the market, seizure and/or prosecution under the CCPSA. Any person that manufactures, imports, advertises, or sells noncompliant products that result in property damage, injury or death may also be subject to legal liability.
There are several regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) that address specific hazards with children's toys. The main regulation, however, is the Toys Regulations. The Toys Regulations address a wide range of mechanical, flammability, toxicological, electrical, thermal and other hazards associated with children's toys. Other regulations, such as those listed below, may also apply to a specific toy, depending on the toy's design, construction, contents and, in some cases, how it is marketed.
Under the CCPSA there are also several prohibitions that could apply to certain toys. Schedule 2 of the CCPSA lists specific products that are prohibited from being manufactured, imported, advertised or sold. This list identifies the following, among others, as prohibited products:
For a complete list of prohibited consumer products, please refer to Schedule 2 of the CCPSA.
The Toys Regulations define a toy as: "a product that is intended for use by a child in learning or play." Health Canada's policy is to interpret the term toy as applying to toys intended for use by children under 14 years of age, unless a younger age is prescribed within a requirement. This interpretation is consistent with several international toy safety standardsFootnote 1 where the product scope, with respect to age use, is identified as intended for children under the age of 14 years. (Section 1 of the Toys Regulations)
The following sections highlight several of the requirements for toys by providing a simple description of the hazard and the associated requirement.
Many of the safety requirements of the Toys Regulations address mechanical hazards. Several of these requirements state that a hazard must not be exposed with reasonably foreseeable use of a toy by a child.
Standardized tests for reasonably foreseeable use have been developed - drop test and push/pull test procedures - as outlined in the Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1: Test Procedures to Determine the Mechanical Hazards of Toys - Reasonably Foreseeable Use.
The drop and push/pull test procedures are utilized as standardized tests that attempt to expose a toy to conditions of reasonably foreseeable use by a child. However, depending on the design, construction and contents of a toy, a child playing with it may be exposed to hazards that are not revealed through these standard tests. It is the responsibility of industry members to ensure that a toy does not present hazards when it is used in a reasonably foreseeable way and to recognize that children will not necessarily interact with a toy in the same manner as an adult.
In order to verify the safety of a toy, it may be appropriate to conduct other tests and/or to complete "use and abuse" testing as prescribed by other recognized toy safety standards. Some examples of other standardized "use and abuse" tests include: flexure, torque, compression and seam strength tests.
The Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1 drop test procedure states that a toy be dropped four times onto a tile-covered concrete floor. Each drop is conducted with the toy in a different orientation. The orientations chosen are those considered as most likely to cause damage during the drop. A toy is dropped from a height of 1.37 metres (4.5 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child under three years of age. It is dropped from a height of 0.91 metres (3 feet) if it is likely to be used by a child of three years of age or older. Following each drop the toy is inspected for applicable safety hazards such as detached small components, sharp points and sharp edges.
The Product Safety Laboratory Method M01.1 push/pull test procedure specifies that a push or pull force of 44.5 newtons (10 pound-force) be gradually applied over a 5-second period and then maintained for 10 seconds. The procedure is completed on any part of a toy that is likely to become detached or damaged by the application of such a force. Following each push or pull the toy is inspected for relevant safety hazards such as detached small components, sharp points and sharp edges. More severe push/pull tests are mandatory in two instances:
A number of safety requirements related to mechanical hazards are specific to a toy that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age, while other requirements apply to all toys, regardless of their age classification. The following are some examples of mechanical safety requirements that all toys must meet, regardless of the age of child who is likely to use the toy.
To minimize strangulation hazards with yo-yo type balls and similar products, their cords must not stretch to 500 millimetres or more in length. (Section 42 of the Toys Regulations)
An elastic designed for attaching a toy across a baby carriage, crib or playpen must not stretch beyond 750 millimetres (30 inches) or it must not extend more than 75% of its relaxed length. (Section 41 of the Toys Regulations)
In order to help protect children's hearing when they play with toys, toys must not make or emit noise exceeding 100 decibels when measured at the distance the toy would ordinarily be from the ear of the child who is using it. (Section 19 of the Toys Regulations)
Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method to Determine the Noise Level of Toys (Method M04) is used to assess toys for compliance with this requirement. The method specifies ordinary use distances for several different groups of toys (for example, toy phones, handheld toys and tabletop/floor toys). The method also specifies that the maximal sound pressure level emitted by a toy be measured using the "Fast" or "F" time weighting and the "A" frequency weighting, over a minimum five second sound generation period.
The Toys: Age Classification Guidelines are available from Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety Directorate or a Regional Product Safety Office to assist businesses in identifying toys that are likely to be used by a child under three years of age.
Since young children often put things in their mouths, small objects in a child's environment present choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards. The Toys Regulations aim to help protect young children from small component hazards in toys. The Regulations require that any toy that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age must not have a small separable component or have a small component that can detach from the toy with reasonably foreseeable use (see the "Drop test procedure" and the "Push/pull test procedure" sections on page of this guide). (Section 7 of the Toys Regulations)
If a separable or detachable toy component can be totally enclosed in the small parts cylinder, as illustrated, using a force of 4.45 newtons (1 pound-force) or less, then the toy does not meet the requirement. The small component requirement does not apply to toys or toy components that are made entirely of soft textile fibre material (for example, cotton doll socks). (Section 1 of the Toys Regulations)
Note that if a toy is age labelled for children three years or older, but is likely to be used by a child under three years of age, then the small component requirement of the legislation applies.
Small components are serious choking, ingestion and inhalation hazards for young children. Examples of some types of toys that Health Canada has taken action on because of small components include:
A toy intended for use by a child under three years of age must not contain plant seeds as pellets for making noise. For example, a wooden rattle containing plant seeds is not allowed. Plant seeds include, but are not limited to: barley, corn kernels, oat seeds, rice, lavender seeds, and flax seeds. Further restrictions on the use of plant seeds in toys are described in the "Plant seeds-stuffing material" section of this guide. (Section 35 of the Toys Regulations)
A rattle is a toy that is intended for an infant to hold in their hand and is intended to make noise when it is shaken. A rattle, in addition to meeting all other applicable safety requirements under the Toys Regulations, must be constructed such that no part of it can fit all the way through the opening of the rattle impaction test gauge. This requirement helps protect an infant from taking part of a rattle into their mouth and having it lodge in the back of their throat obstructing breathing. Careful examination of the size and shape of all rattles is required, with special attention to key shaped rattles and animal shaped rattles (for example, those with long ears or feet). (Paragraph 40(b) of the Toys Regulations)
This requirement also applies to any part of the rattle that can be removed with a force of 50 newtons (11.2 pound force) or a torque of less than 1 newton metre (8.85 inch pounds). The Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method for Rattles (Method M05) is used to assess rattles for compliance with this requirement. (Paragraph 40(c) of the Toys Regulations)
Rattle impaction test gauge (Schedule 8 of the Toys Regulations)
All pull and push toys with shaft-like handles of 10 millimetres (0.375 inches) in diameter or less, in addition to meeting all other applicable safety requirements, must have a protective tip attached to the end of the handle. The protective attachment is required to prevent puncture wounds and must be held in place with enough strength to withstand a pulling force of 44.5 newtons (10 pound force). (Section 37 of the Toys Regulations)
Stringent flammability requirements are in place for all textile materials used for the outer covering of dolls, plush toys and soft toys, including their clothing, as well as for the hair on these types of toys. The purpose of these requirements is to help protect children from burn injuries by prohibiting the use of materials that ignite rapidly and burn rapidly.
A doll, plush toy or soft toy fails the requirements of the Toys Regulations if samples of its outer fabric, held at an angle of 45 degrees, ignite within 1 second of contact with a flame and the flame travels a distance of 127 millimetres (5 inches) in 7 seconds or less. A different test is employed if the exposed surface of the doll, plush toy or soft toy is made of yarn. Additionally, a doll, plush toy or soft toy fails the requirement if it has hair or a mane that ignites within 1 second of contact with a flame and does not self-extinguish within 2 seconds after the flame is removed. There are several conditions and exceptions for these flammability requirements, please refer to the Toys Regulations for complete details. The Health Canada Product Safety Laboratory Test Method for the Flammability of Toys (Dolls, Plush Toys and Soft Toys) (Method F02) is used to assess compliance with these requirements. (Sections 32, 33 and 34 of the Toys Regulations)
Children's play tents, in addition to meeting all applicable toy safety requirements, must meet the requirements of the Hazardous Products (Tents) Regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), which address flammability hazards and include performance and labelling requirements.
Flammability requirements are also in place for other textile products for children. Details of the requirements for textile products in general, such as children's daywear, costumes and bedding can be found in the Textile Flammability Regulations under the CCPSA. Further requirements for children's sleepwear can be found in the Children's Sleepwear Regulations under the CCPSA.
The Toys Regulations prohibit the following toys.
The Asbestos Products Regulations under the CCPSA prohibit toys that contain any type of asbestos where the asbestos can be separated from the product (for example, play sand containing asbestos).
The Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) Regulations under the CCPSA set a total lead limit of not more than 90 mg of lead per kg of product (90 mg/kg) for the accessible parts of the following two categories of consumer products (also referred to as "Group 1" in Health Canada's "Lead Risk Reduction Strategy for Consumer Products"):
The 90 mg/kg total lead limit under the Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) Regulations applies to accessible product components, defined as "any part of a consumer productcontaining lead that may be touched, licked, mouthed, or swallowed in the course of the reasonablyforeseeable use of the product." There are certain product exceptions for the 90 mg/kg total lead limit please refer to the regulations for complete details.
The Surface Coating Materials Regulations under the CCPSA limit total lead to not more than 90 mg/kg and total mercury to not more than 10 mg/kg in surface coating materials. These limits aim to effectively prohibit the intentional addition of lead and mercury in surface coating materials, and serve to help protect children from toxicity associated with lead and mercury exposure. The Surface Coating Materials Regulations apply to a variety of surface coating materials of all forms (for example, liquid, aerosol, dried pellets, gel, wax and powder), including those for use by children for the purposes of arts, crafts, hobbies, etc.
The Phthalates Regulations under the CCPSA restrict the allowable concentrations of each of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP) to not more than 1,000 mg/kg (0.1%) in the soft vinyl of toys and in the soft vinyl of child care articles: Footnote 4
In addition, the allowable concentrations of each of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP) must not exceed 1,000 mg/kg (0.1%) in the soft vinyl of toys and in the soft vinyl of child care articles where the soft vinyl can, in a reasonably foreseeable manner, be placed in the mouth of a child under four years of age.
The Science Education Sets Regulations under the CCPSA are in place to help reduce potential hazards associated with the use and mixture of chemicals provided in these sets. The Regulations also help protect against the cultivation of pathogenic micro-organisms. The Regulations apply to a variety of science education sets that are intended for use by older children, including chemistry, biology, microscopy and environmental sets.
The Regulations help minimize the risks of: the possible ingestion of, or skin contact with, toxic or corrosive chemicals; the mixing of strongly reactive chemicals which could produce violent reactions; and the cultivation of pathogenic micro-organisms. The labelling of chemicals, as required by the Regulations, advises the user of the hazards associated with the chemicals and the need for taking precautions when they are used.
Products for babies, including teethers, pacifiers, and baby bottle nipples that are put in the mouth when used and have a filling that contains a living micro-organism are prohibited (see item 4 of Schedule 2 to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act [CCPSA]). This prohibition aims to help protect infants from illness and injury should the filling become accessible to them. Health Canada employs the current official edition of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Sterility Test (currently, USP, General Chapter <71>) to assess compliance with this prohibition.
A toy, regardless of the age of child it is intended to be used by, must not contain plant seeds as stuffing material. Plant seeds include, but are not limited to: barley, corn kernels, oat seeds, rice, lavender seeds and flax seeds. This requirement protects children from a number of hazards, including: toxicity, aspiration, impaction and infestation. Further restrictions on the use of plant seeds in toys are described in the "Plant seeds-pellets for making noise" section of this guide. (Section 36 of the Toys Regulations)
According the Surface Coating Materials Regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), furniture and other articles for children (such as, but not limited to, baby gates, baby bottles, pacifiers, children's lunch boxes and fasteners on children's clothing), must not have a surface coating material that contains more than 90 mg/kg total lead. The lead content restrictions in the Consumer Products Containing Lead (Contact with Mouth) Regulations under the CCPSA apply to the accessible parts of certain children's products (for example, baby bottle nipples).
According to the Surface Coating Materials Regulations, pencils and artists' brushes must not have a surface coating material that contains more than 90 mg/kg total lead. This requirement applies whether or not the pencils or artists' brushes are intended for children.
Different requirements under the CCPSA apply depending on whether a consumer product is considered children's toy jewellery or children's jewellery. The distinction between children's toy jewellery and children's jewellery is described below.
Toy jewellery is subject to all requirements for toys under the CCPSA. Toy jewellery includes items intended for limited play-time use such as in dress-up play and role play, as well as items that have a toy feature such as a necklace with an attached soap bubble vial and wand. It also includes jewellery that is intended to be worn by a toy, but that is clearly not intended to be worn by a child.
Children's jewellery is jewellery that is manufactured, sized, decorated, packaged, advertised or sold in a manner that appeals primarily to children under 15 years of age but does not include merit badges, medals for achievement or other similar objects normally worn only occasionally. Children's jewellery is subject to the safety requirements specified in the Children's Jewellery Regulations under the CCPSA. For the purpose of the Regulations, jewellery is understood to be an ornamental item intended for regular wear on the body or on clothing or clothing accessories. (Section 1 of the Children's Jewellery Regulations)
The Children's Jewellery Regulations prohibit the import, advertising or sale in Canada of children's jewellery if the jewellery contains more than 600 mg/kg total lead or more than 90 mg/kg migratable lead. Both the total and the migratable limits must be complied with. The limits are applied to underlying material of a children's jewellery component that has a protective or decorative surface coating. The underlying material is considered similarly hazardous because a child could suck or chew the coating off and gain access to it. These lead content limits also apply to children's jewellery components, such as beads, which are sold separately or in jewellery-making kits for children. (Section 3 of the Children's Jewellery Regulations)
Children's jewellery containing high levels of cadmium may pose a health risk to children who ingest the substance through sucking or swallowing the jewellery. In October 2010, Health Canada issued a request that industry immediately stop the production, importation and sale of children's jewellery made with the intentional use of cadmium or cadmium-containing materials. In July 2011, Health Canada published a Proposed Guideline for Cadmium in Children's Jewellery document on its website, asking for stakeholder comments on the proposed allowable level of 130 mg/kg total cadmium. The Guideline can be found online at: www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/legislation/consultation/_2011cadmium/draft-ebauche-eng.php
Children's cosmetic items, such as perfume, lipstick, makeup, nail polish, shaving cream, Halloween makeup, face paint and similar items are regulated by Health Canada under the Cosmetic Regulations of the Food and Drugs Act. Where a toy is included with a cosmetic item, for example, a bath toy embedded in a bath soap, the toy component is subject to all applicable requirements for toys under the CCPSA.
The Toys Regulations and other regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) do not address all known hazards with toys. Industry members, such as manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers, are ultimately responsible for the safety of the toys that they produce or sell. The following sections describe Health Canada's recommendations to industry members regarding some hazards not addressed by the Toys Regulations or other regulations under the CCPSA.
A number of deaths have resulted from children choking on uninflated latex balloons or fragments of broken latex balloons. In order to inform consumers of this hazard, industry members are urged to apply an appropriate warning, such as the one which follows, in both official languages (English and French), to all packages of latex balloons.
Small powerful magnets and small toy pieces containing powerful magnets pose a recognized health hazard to children. Since 2005 there have been many cases of children requiring emergency surgical treatment to remove swallowed magnets and/or magnetic toy pieces from their intestines. If a child swallows more than one magnet over a short period of time, the magnets can attract one another while travelling through the intestines. When this happens, the magnets can twist the intestines and create a blockage or they can slowly tear through the intestinal walls. The results can be very serious and even fatal.
The hazard is relevant for young children who commonly mouth objects, but is also relevant for older children since many of the cases have involved children between the ages of 3 and 14 years. As a result of toy manufacturer's awareness of this hazard, most magnetic toys are now designed and constructed in such a way that they do not release small magnets and the magnetic toy pieces are large and not easily swallowed.
Health Canada recommends that magnetic toys using powerful magnets never contain loose magnets or magnetic toy pieces that are small enough to be swallowed. Health Canada does not consider a warning on a toy package sufficient to protect children from this serious hazard.
A toy storage box or bin with a heavy lid that can fall freely poses dangerous strangulation and impact hazards to a child. This type of toy box design should never be used. Alternatives include a toy box without a lid, or one with a hinged lid designed to stay open in any position and under force.
Ventilation requirements are defined for any toy that is large enough for a child to enter into and that can be closed by a lid or door, such as a toy box. These requirements are described in the "Suffocation hazards" section of this guide.
Cords or straps on toys in the form of loops or straight lengths pose a strangulation hazard especially to infants and young children. The hazard is present when a loop is large enough to fit over a child's head, or when a straight length of cord is long enough to wrap around a child's neck.
Health Canada recommends that cords or straps on toys be avoided or of minimal length in toys intended for young children. The cords of yo-yo type balls and similar products must not stretch to 500 mm or more in length (see the "Strangulation hazards" section of this guide).
The small foam pellets or beads used as filling in bean bag chairs are easily inhaled by young children and they present a suffocation hazard. Health Canada recommends that these types of chairs have secure closures that do not allow young children to gain access to the pellets or beads.
While the Toys Regulations do not require that toys be labelled for age appropriateness or that they bear warning labels for choking hazards, such labelling is strongly encouraged. Appropriate age labels and valid choking hazard warnings provide valuable safety information to consumers when they purchase toys.
Health Canada recommends that a choking hazard warning in both official languages (English and French) be placed on a toy, its package or its instructions for use. Such a warning is appropriate and recommended when the toy, or any of its removable components, can fit entirely into the small parts cylinder and the toy is intended for children who are at least three years of age but under six years of age.
Note that regardless of the age label on the toy, any toy considered by Health Canada as one that is or is likely to be used by a child under three years of age is subject to the strictest toy safety requirements: it must not be a small component, have a separable small component or release one with reasonably foreseeable use. The Toys: Age Classification Guidelines are available to assist industry members in identifying toys that are likely to be used by a child under three years of age.
Labelling requirements for toys and related products include:
It is the responsibility of industry members to ensure compliance of a toy product with Canadian toy safety legislation. Testing a toy against the requirements of the Toys Regulations and other applicable regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) is a means of verifying compliance with these requirements. While not mandated, such testing should be performed by industry members or a laboratory prior to marketing a toy in Canada. When using the services of a private testing laboratory, industry members should verify that the laboratory: has a quality system in place (often verified through third party accreditation to ISO/IEC 17025), is familiar with Canadian toy safety requirements and test methods, and can test to these requirements.
To obtain a copy of test methods, email Health Canada at email@example.com.
In Canada, provincial and territorial legislation requires that electric toys must bear a compliance certification mark from a certification body accredited by the Standards Council of Canada. The certification mark indicates that the toy has been tested and meets all relevant requirements under the Canadian Electrical Code.
Additional legislation may apply to toys. Industry members are advised to consult with relevant provincial, territorial and other legislation. The following highlights some such legislative requirements.
All packaged toys must meet the requirements of the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations. This legislation:
This legislation is administered and enforced by Canada's Competition Bureau. For information regarding consumer packaging and labelling, visit Canada's Competition Bureau website.
For toys sold in the Province of Quebec, certain language requirements for inscriptions on products, operation of products, and their packaging, instructions, etc. may be applicable under the authority of the Charter of the French Language (Charte de la langue française). Details concerning these and other Quebec requirements can be obtained by contacting the Office québécois de la langue française at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specific regulations for upholstered and stuffed articles, including stuffed toys, are in place in the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. These regulations set requirements for the quality of materials used as stuffing, as well as how the stuffing contents and the manufacturer's registration number are identified on a specific disclosure label.
In Ontario, the Technical Standards and Safety Act (2000) and associated Upholstered and Stuffed Articles, Ontario Regulation 218/01 are administered and enforced by the Technical Standards and Safety Authority. For more information, visit www.tssa.organd select the "Upholstered and Stuffed Articles" tab.
NOTICE: For further information visit the resources below or contact a Health Canada Consumer Product Safety Office via email (email@example.com) or telephone at 1-866-662-0666 (toll-free within Canada and the United States).
Toy Safety Standards:
A surface coating material applied to a toy includes, but is not limited to, paints and varnishes. Health Canada also considers a sticker or a decal applied to a toy during manufacturing as a surface coating material.
The Surface Coating Materials Regulations under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) limit the concentration of total mercury present in a surface coating material to no more than 10 mg/kg. It is Health Canada policy to employ this 10 mg/kg limit as an enforcement limit for surface coatings materials on toys.
A child care article is defined as "a product that is intended to facilitate the relaxation, sleep, hygiene, feeding, sucking or teething of a child under four years of age."