Baby on board? Not if car seat bought in U.S.
Darcy Wintonyk, Lynda Steele, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, April 19, 2012 8:25AM PDT
A B.C. grandmother who thought she'd got a great deal by buying a car seat from a U.S. retailer was shocked to learn it was illegal to use in Canada.
Linda Anderson bought the $239.99 Windsor car seat from Babies "R" Us in Lynnwood, Washington, ahead of the birth of her grandchild Sophia.
Anderson said she had no idea the car seat was not legal for use in Canada.
"[I] gave my receipt at the border when I went through and there was nothing said to me whatsoever. Had there been, it would have been taken back immediately," Anderson said.
Daughter Chaliene Jones was about to leave the hospital after giving birth when a nurse informed her that the U.S. car seat was not legal to use in B.C.
"She said ‘oh, you're not allowed this here in Canada. It's illegal,'" Jones said.
Anderson said the exact same car seat sells in Canada for a substantial amount more. She and her daughter want some answers.
"Why wouldn't it be the same? Why can we drive in the U.S. with that car seat and not in Canada? [It] doesn't make sense," said Anderson.
Purchasing a seat outside of Canada is illegal for use here.
Transport Canada said many of the car seats bought outside of Canada don't meet standards set by Canada's Motor Vehicle Restraint Systems and Booster Cushions Safety Regulations (RSSR) or those of the Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS), and do not bear the National Safety Mark required in Canada.
Colleen Blundell, a certified child passenger safety educator with Kids in the Back, says Canada has higher safety standards than the U.S. when it comes to car seats. If you're caught using a seat that wasn't bought in Canada you could be fined, or worse:
"Your insurance could be affected to the point of it being voided in the event of serious injury or death…which you know, is catastrophic," Blundell said.
The minimum fine for being caught using an illegal car seat in B.C. is $176. As well, the owner could face criminal charges and/or face a lawsuit.
Officials with the Canadian Border Service Agency said the importation of car seats is regulated by Transport Canada and Health Canada, and it's not up to its agents to inform consumers.
"Controls at the retail level are the most effective regulation of imports. There is not sufficient risk to merit additional border controls," CBSA said in a statement emailed to CTV's Steele on Your Side.
But Anderson said those retail controls aren't working, and that staff at Babies "R" Us said nothing about the border restrictions, even though she said she is a Canadian.
"He never said we couldn't buy it for Canada. Nothing was said -- zero -- and nothing was said at the border so we presumed it was all okay," she said.
Anderson and Jones say more needs to be done to educate Canadian consumers, including signs at U.S.-Canadian border crossings.
Child seat educators say lots of items are not approved for use in Canada, and it's ultimately up to parents to do their homework and know what the laws are.
When buying a child safety seat, Canadian parents and caregivers should ensure it bears the National Safety Mark label indicating it complies with Canadian regulations and standards.
Watch Lynda Steele's report tonight for information on how to know if your car seat is approved for use in Canada…