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  • A critical look at BC’s new tax breaks and subsidies for LNG May 7, 2019
    The BC government has offered much more to the LNG industry than the previous government. Read the report by senior economist Marc Lee.  
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver April 30, 2019
    The 2019 living wage for Metro Vancouver is $19.50/hour. This is the amount needed for a family of four with each of two parents working full-time at this hourly rate to pay for necessities, support the healthy development of their children, escape severe financial stress and participate in the social, civic and cultural lives of […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • Time to regulate gas prices in BC and stop industry gouging April 29, 2019
    Drivers in Metro Vancouver are reeling from record high gas prices, and many commentators are blaming taxes. But it’s not taxes causing pain at the pump — it’s industry gouging. Our latest research shows that gas prices have gone up by 55 cents per litre since 2016 — and the vast majority of that increase […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • CCPA welcomes Randy Robinson as new Ontario Director March 27, 2019
    The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is pleased to announce the appointment of Randy Robinson as the new Director of our Ontario Office.  Randy’s areas of expertise include public sector finance, the gendered rise of precarious work, neoliberalism, and labour rights. He has extensive experience in communications and research, and has been engaged in Ontario’s […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
  • 2019 Federal Budget Analysis February 27, 2019
    Watch this space for response and analysis of the federal budget from CCPA staff and our Alternative Federal Budget partners. More information will be added as it is available. Commentary and Analysis  Aim high, spend low: Federal budget 2019 by David MacDonald (CCPA) Budget 2019 fiddles while climate crisis looms by Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood (CCPA) Budget hints at priorities for upcoming […]
    Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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Chinese toys redux

I overheard on the radio that Mattel has made an apology to the Chinese government for its recall of numerous products – a huge symbol of just how mighty China is. At the time of recall mania there was a lot of China-bashing for its lax regulatory oversight (not so much what it meant for Chinese workers but for the Western consumers). Undoubtedly, the Chinese are not up to Western regulatory standards, but I thought this was strange given that the Chinese manufacturers were simply following the design specs of the mother corp, Mattel. And barely a word was said about the regulatory practices on the domestic (North American) front, which themselves have deteriorated in recent decades. Mattel seemed happy to let the story be about China, but looks like they took some serious flak from the Chinese and now are admitting to “design flaws”.

There are some bigger issues at stake with regard to toys. Loose magnets and lead paint may well be problematic. But I have seen some seriously nasty stuff on the shelves that is not facing recall of any kind. I remember some play balls at the dollar store that reaked of petroleum product, and would not want my child anywhere near the thing. The sheer amount of cheap plastic in toys is also cause for concern. Apparently, most of the crap out there meets our high Canadian standards for the little ones.

For a recent birthday, one of the toys received was a submersible mermaid kit that involved diluting into water a highly toxic substance (something like silicon silicate) that came in an unmarked plastic bag that a child could easily break open. Only when I read the instructions was I warned not to let the stuff get in contact with glass, wood or a number of other substances (it eats through glass in ten seconds, the sheet claimed), and that if it got anywhere near a mucous membrane to flush with water for half an hour then haul it over to the hospital. Needless to say, I dumped the substance in the garbage and there were no happy mermaids that day.

The issue is not about whether the product is made in China – the Chinese also make your laptop and most other high tech gear these days – but our own regulatory standards and what we will accept in the marketplace. Way back when they used to call this consumer protection, and yes, it does mean accepting some “red tape”. But I would be happier if we had a regulatory regime in place that did not place all of the burden on individual parents to figure out what is safe and what is not for children to play with.

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