Canada Issues Guidelines for GHS Requirements

The Canadian health ministry, Health Canada, has issued the first part of a two-part Guidance. First, the document is meant to help companies implement the requirements of GHS that have been in effect since last year. Second, it serves to bring the American and Canadian provisions further into alignment. The second part of the Guidance should appear in the fall.

Health Canada has established a transition period (June 1, 2017 for manufacturers and importers; December 1, 2018 for distributors and suppliers) for companies to implement the criteria. Nonetheless, industry associations have continued to request additional help and instructions on how to implement the new requirements. They have also criticized the differences between the GHS provision in Canada and the United States, which, they feel, hinder trade between the two countries. That’s why they are demanding comprehensive harmonization of the provisions.

One issue is how to deal with confidential business information (CBI). For example, the Canadians require that safety data sheets indicate the exact concentration of a substance. American companies reject such a requirement, saying that such information is confidential. For cases involving confidentiality, the Canadians require special petitions that delay imports and trigger additional costs. Representatives of Canadian companies feel that this situation might deter companies that supply the Canadian market. Canadian companies fear competitive disadvantages in the future.

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