Unintentional Injury Prevention Legislation in Canada

Unintentional injuries are among the leading causes of death and disability for Canadians between the ages of 1-44 years. To respond to the burden of injury, policymakers have invested significant resources to the development of legislation designed for health protection, however the investment in injury prevention has not always been explicit. In fact, outside of the major areas of injury including motor vehicle crashes and fire prevention, legislation has been developed to target mostly consumer product and environmental risk factors (Health Canada, 1996). The rationale behind this policy investment has been environmental strategies (e.g safe water, fluoridation, lead abatement, public smoking, seat-belt laws) to garner the support needed at the individual level to implement the laws on a broad scale (CDC, 1992). Laws explicit to the field of injury prevention have yet to garner the same level of support.

Due to the lack of injury prevention laws, legislation has become a component of several injury prevention models. Injury prevention models using legislation include the 4 E’s of Injury Prevention and The Spectrum of Prevention Model. In the 4 E’s of Injury Prevention, legislation is captured in the enforcement and enactment of laws (McCallum & McKay 2003). The enforcement and enactment of laws attempts to reduce dangerous behaviours through abiding the law (McCallum & McKay, 2003). The Spectrum of Prevention Tool consists of six levels of increasing scope including developing strategies to change laws and policies and influence outcomes (Cohen & Swift, 1999).

While public policy legislation for injury prevention is one of many effective means to reduce injury, not all jurisdictions are equal in their ability to make injury prevention a priority. To determine the extent to which federal, provincial and territorial legislation has been developed for injury reduction, this project will provide an inventory of injury prevention-related legislation at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.

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