Public Policy

Reducing Injuries with THE RIGHT SOLUTIONS

To achieve an injury-free Canada with Canadians living long lives to the fullest, Parachute provides thought leadership, evidence-based solutions, and actively informs dialogue on public policy to make injury prevention a Canadian priority.

Parachute works directly with Canadian families and communities, and with all levels of government to address preventable injuries at home, on the road, at work, and at play.

The 3 Es of PREVENTION

A focus on engineering, enforcement and education will establish large scale changes in healthy public policy and the creation of environments, both social and physical, which will encourage Canadians to be active and safe.

Parachute is LEADING THE WAY

  • We focus on community activation, building awareness, and delivering solutions.
  • We share leading practices and policy models that have a proven impact on injury reduction.
  • We are guided by an evidence-based framework for injury prevention that serves as a guide for federal, provincial, territorial and local policy makers.
  • We build capacity within organizations and communities, supporting widespread adoption of public policy in priority areas. 

Public Policy Toolkit

Some useful resources for the development, implimentation and evaluation of public policy in Canada. 

Parachute’s policy priorities

Motor vehicle collisions

This is the leading cause of preventable injury and death in Canada. We know, through legislation and enforcement mechanisms, public policy will ensure Canadians are safe on the road.

Sport and recreation

Public policy for injury prevention is about keeping Canadians active and safe.  Public policy for sport and recreation related injuries focuses on managing the risks that can often occur during sports, such as protocols for managing concussions and mandatory bike helmets for all ages. 

Falls prevention

Falls are the leading cause of reduced longevity and high healthcare costs among older adults.  As Canada’s population ages, it is becoming even more important to ensure that older adults remain active, healthy, and independent. Public policy focuses on programming and policies to enable older adults to maintain their health and fitness.

Partnering for Change

Effective policy for injury prevention requires a whole society approach and commitment. Parachute is leading the dialogue with several key stakeholders to create change:

  • Corporations
  • Government  
  • National, provincial, and local community organizations
  • Experts and thought leaders
  • Passionate individuals

Together, we recognize injury prevention as a leading social cause and are taking collective action to create important change. 

Product safety

Toddler playing with wooden blocks

According to the Children's Hospitals Injury Reporting & Prevention Program (CHIRPP), every year in Canada, more than 14,000 paediatric emergency room visits are for children under the age of 10, who have been injured by consumer products found in and around the home (1). Recalls on children's products have significantly increased in recent years from 28 voluntary recalls in 2006 to 118 in 2008; this constitutes a 235 per cent increase over three years. While survey results have shown that the vast majority of Canadians believe that a product is safe because it is available on the market, this is not necessarily the case. Children are particularly vulnerable to product-related injuries because of their size, their developmental abilities and because they often use a product in ways outside of its intended use, e.g., sucking or chewing on toy parts or jewelry.

Improved product safety in Canada

On Dec. 15, 2010, Bill C-36:  An Act respecting the safety of consumer products, received Royal Assent and became law. Bill C-36 introduces new safety legislation that suppliers will have to meet, and new tools for Health Canada to better protect the health and safety of Canadians through effective enforcement measures such as mandatory testing and mandatory recalls of dangerous products. 

Safer pool fencing laws

Issue

Child climbing a pool fenceDrowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death to Canadian children. Swimming pools are the site of nearly half of all drowning and near-drowning incidents for children 14 years of age and under.

Key Features of Safer Pool Fencing

Problem: Current legislative status

Pools without proper fencing are a particular hazard for children under five years of age. In most places in Canada, safer pool fencing is not yet required.

For more information, please see our Pool Fencing Legislation Chart.

Researchers estimate that safer pool fencing could prevent seven out of 10 drowning incidents in home swimming pools for children under five years of age.

Solution: Safer pool fencing

Safer pool fencing consists of a minimum 1.2-metre (four-foot) high, four-sided pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate that regulates all access points. Municipalities have the ability to enact safer pool fencing bylaws for homes with pools. Provincial and territorial jurisdictions can support municipal efforts by establishing province-wide safer pool fencing laws.

Government can help create safer environments within their communities by proper enforcement measures and by providing education about safer pool fencing. 

Key features of safer pool fencing

Safer fencing should:

  • completely enclose the pool on all four sides
  • be of minimum height of 1.2 metres (four feet)
  • cover all types of pools (inflatable, above-ground, etc.)
  • have a self-closing and self-latching gate
  • be designed to deter young children from climbind 

Drowning prevention resources 

Carbon monoxide poisoning

Issue

Carbon monoxide is a leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in Ontario, Canada and North America.  An estimated 414 Canadians died of carbon monoxide poisoning between 2000 and 2007, including 87 in Ontario.Carbon Monoxide alarm

Problem

The nature of carbon monoxide poisoning requires proactive safety measures – waiting until after the poisoning has occurred is too late. Installing a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of a home and outside every sleeping area is key to protecting lives and making homes safer. Without a carbon monoxide alarm, families are unable to detect the presence of this poisonous gas, in any concentration. Symptoms of exposure, such as headaches and nausea, are often mistaken for the flu and either ignored or misdiagnosed. That is why carbon monoxide is referred to as “the silent killer.”  It cannot be detected by people because it is colourless, odourless and tasteless. 

Solution:  Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms in all homes

The good news is that carbon monoxide poisoning can be prevented with a simple solution:  the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all homes.

Four jurisdictions in Canada now require carbon monoxide detectors in all residences.  Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec and the Yukon all have carbon monoxide legislation. 

Investment in poison prevention strategies is cost-effective:  $1 spent on poison prevention saves $7 in health care costs.  Most carbon monoxide alarms cost less than $35:  about two cents a day over the suggested lifespan of a CO alarm.

Resources

Poison prevention

The Issue

Poisoning is a much larger public health issue than is generally recognized, with children being particularly at risk of unintentional poisoning. For Canadians of all ages, poisoning is the fifth leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency room visits. Researchers estimate that half of all poison exposures occur among children younger than six years of age. Child standing in front of a medicine cabinet

Problem

Children are at particular risk of poisoning due to their growing curiosity and inexperience – as children begin to climb and reach new things they don’t necessarily have the experience to know what to avoid. 

It is estimated that: 

  • Half of all poison exposures occur among children younger than six years of age
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates an average of three deaths each year in Canada among children aged 14 years and younger from unintentional poisoning and another 900 are hospitalized with serious injuries. 
  • Keep laundry detergents, including single-unit dose packets, secured and out of reach of children. Like many other household products, detergents must be used as directed, and safely and properly stored. Follow #PreventPoison for information and resources or visit Health Canada
  • A Canadian Paediatric Society study of injuries associated with liquid detergent packets treated by paediatricians gathered information on 54 children with injuries following exposure. The study found that more than half of these children (56%) were less than two years of age and another 43% were aged 2-4 years.
  • Poison centres across Canada receive about 160,000 phone calls each year 
  • Close to half of those calls come from frantic parents concerning children younger than six. 

Medication is the leading cause of all unintentional poisonings of children age 14 and under. The remaining poisonings are caused by a wide range of products such as household cleaners, alcohol, plants, fertilizers, pesticides, paint thinner, antifreeze and beauty products.  While adults may be deterred from consuming a substance by its bad taste, this is not the case with young children. Their sense of taste is different from an adult’s, resulting in the ability to drink substances like windshield washer fluid without the taste being a deterrent.  

Solution

Prevention of poisoning is best accomplished through a multifaceted approach combining education, enforcement and environmental modifications. 

Effective poison prevention emphasizes several pillars:

  • Poison prevention education for families
  • The safe storage of potentially poisonous substances
  • Limiting the quantity of potentially harmful over-the-counter drugs that can be purchased in a single package
  • Mandatory carbon monoxide alarms in all residences
  • A national phone number for poison information
  • The establishment and coordination of data surveillance and collection 

For further information on poison prevention in Canada, please see:

White Paper on the prevention of poisoning of children in Canada 

Webinar on Poison Prevention - June 23, 2015

Check out our blog for more information.

Pedestrian safety

Issue

Boy looking at the speed limit signPedestrian injury is a leading cause of injury-related death to Canadian children. 

Problem

Vehicles moving at a speed of over 30-40 km/h present a greater risk to pedestrians.

Solution: Environment, Enforcement, Education

Small reductions in speeds can significantly reduce injury risk, which creates safer environments for all pedestrians.  Walking is a healthy, safe and 'green' alternative that can be encouraged through responsible urban planning and the active enforcement of maximum traffic speeds.

For more information on Pedestrian Safety please see:

Helmet safety

Issue: Head injuries

Head injuries are the leading cause of severe injury and injury-related deaths to children on bicycles.Teen boy wearing a bike helmet

Facts and Myths about Bike Helmet Legislation

Problem: Low helmet use

Research shows that a properly fitted helmet can decrease the risk of serious head injury by over 80 per cent. This means that four out of five head injuries could be prevented if every cyclist wore a helmet.

Solution: Helmet laws encourage helmet use

Helmet laws encourage helmet use for all ages.  Head injury rates among child and youth cyclists are about 25 per cent lower in provinces with helmet laws, compared to provinces without. Currently, six provinces have cycling legislation in place, but only four cover all ages. Legislation, in conjunction with ongoing education and enforcement programs, is necessary to make helmet use the norm. Both helmet use and cycling should be promoted to keep kids healthy, active and safe. 

For more information on helmet safety please see: 

Government, industry, communities and all stakeholders can promote healthy, active, safe living and a culture of cycling. This means reducing traffic speed in communities through lower speed limits and traffic calming, but could also include the development of areas for recreational biking. Improving road safety requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the road design in a community as well as the way vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists use the street.

Child passenger safety

Issue - Child passenger safety

Child on a rear-facing car seatMotor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children. Action must be taken to reduce the risk of crashes. Steps must also be taken to reduce the risk of injury when a crash occurs.

Problem - Low booster seat use

Car crashes kill more children than any other cause of injury in Canada. What amounts to over two classrooms of children die in cars each year, and thousands more are injured.

Solution - Mandatory booster seat use

When installed correctly, putting a child in a car seat reduces the chances of injury or death by as much as 75 per cent and booster seats provide up to 60 per cent more protection than seatbelts alone. Children must be in the correct car seat for their stage of physical development in order to be protected. 

While at least 75 per cent of young children are restrained in car seats, Transport Canada research found that nearly three-quarters of Canadian children between ages four to nine were not protected by booster seats. 

Car seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 per cent for infants under age one and 54 per cent for children ages one to four.

Car seats reduce the risk of hospitalization by 67 per cent for children age four and under.

Currently, eight provinces require booster seat use.  Car seat laws in Canada

Booster seat legislation

Research demonstrates that booster seat legislation is an effective way to ensure that children are placed in the correct car seat for their stage of physical development.  Currently, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut do not have booster seat legislation in place.  Education, enforcement and increased government investment in child passenger safety, are also needed to make Canada’s roads the safest possible for children and youth.

Investing in research related to the design and use of car seats; making child restraint safety a priority in preventive care, and having health professionals assess child restraint use as part of patient visits, are strategies that can be implemented in order to increase the level of children’s safety on Canada’s roads.     

ATV safety

Issue

All-terrain vehicleAll-terrain vehicles are motorized vehicles that require adult skills and judgment. Canadian children continue to be injured and killed while riding ATVs.

Problem

Child use of motorized vehicles. Children and youth are at a special risk for ATV-related injuries and death as they lack the necessary knowledge, physical development, cognitive and motor skills to safely operate these vehicles.

Solution

Children under 16 should not use ATVs, regardless of its size or the power of its engine.  Currently in Canada, ATV laws vary by jurisdiction and by location of use. Laws should also require use of appropriate helmets and mandatory safety training for all those operating ATVs.

ATV provincial legislation chart