If you weren't yet in the market for a car seat at the start of 2012, then you may have missed the cat that Canadian car seat regulations have changed. As of the start of this year, new child restraint equipment and booster seat requirements were made compulsory. Now don't panic—this doesn't mean you have to wade through scores of “legal” and “illegal” systems; there was a 19 month transition period given to manufacturers to bring their designs up to the requirements, so what's on the market now should be reflective of those changes.
So what has changed? Well, we've followed the example of the lower 48, and have basically made the regulations that were already in place more stringent. Specifically, as per Transport Canada, here are the foremost of the modifications:
- a lap/shoulder seat belt is now required for all types of car seats
- There is now more rigorous dynamic testing to include parameters like the US's acceleration corridor, as well as their performance criteria
- the definition of “infant” has been changed from 9 kg and under to 10 kg and under
- the maximum weight limit permitted for child seats has been increased from 22 kg to 30 kg
- booster seats must now undergo dynamic testing
- the rebound limit on rear facing child seats has been extended
- school buses are now permitted to use harnesses (that have been certified) for children with special needs
So if you purchased a car seat prior to the implementation of these changes, do you need to replace it? Not if that's your only reason for replacing the car seat. However, if the child seat was in a vehicle that was involved in a collision, it needs replacing. The same holds true if its expiry date has passed, since wear and tear can affect their performance.
Despite its extreme importance, car seat shopping isn't something to be intimidated by; thankfully, in Canada all child care seats that are available on the market must have the National Safety Mark, ensuring that the seats meet Canadian safety standards.