Trudeau defends Health Canada’s easing of some bilingual label rules amid COVID-19


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended Health Canada’s decision to ease restrictions for bilingual labels on some cleaning products coming from the United States during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

He said the decision was not ideal, but due to increased demand for the products, the federal government is willing to accept unilingual labelling on products.

“We find ourselves in a situation where logistical capacity and labour isn’t necessarily present in importing companies,” Trudeau said, while speaking in French.

“We are in a situation that is completely unprecedented and what is important is to have access to things like disinfectants or hand sanitizers.”

He added that under normal circumstances it would be “totally unacceptable.”

Trudeau said he expected companies to work hard to rectify the situation, but did not specify which companies.

Health Canada said in a statement on Monday the interim move would bring in disinfectants from the U.S. faster, and French labelling rules would be reinforced after the pandemic ends.

“In light of the unprecedented demand and urgent need for products that can help fight COVID-19 — including cleaning products — as an interim policy, Health Canada is facilitating access to products that may not fully meet current regulatory requirements,” the statement read.

The federal department added it would not be relaxing regulatory requirements for other household cleaning products.