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B.C. legislation will allow it to hold companies accountable for ‘hurting people’

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March 15, 2024
By Talent Canada

Image: Government of BC

British Columbia is going after corporate wrongdoers to recover the costs of public-health harms their products cause to people, the province said.

The public health accountability and cost recovery act will provide the tools necessary for the government to recover costs associated with the promotion, marketing and distribution of products that are harmful to adults and children in British Columbia, it said. Building on previous legislation to enable litigation against tobacco and opioid manufacturers, this act further enshrines the robust role of the attorney general to engage in proactive litigation on behalf of the public.

“Our government previously warned social media giants, tobacco, drug companies and other big faceless corporations that we would be taking action to hold them accountable for the harm they are causing to people, including kids,” said Premier David Eby. “My message is simple: Here in B.C., we expect you to operate in a way that doesn’t hurt people, period.”

With this legislation, government will be able to claim public costs, such as hospital treatments and doctor appointments, as well as proactive and preventative measures used to address the risk of disease, illness or injury. In addition to companies as a whole, directors and officers of those companies can be held liable.


“Too many people in B.C. are living with negative health impacts from products they should be able to trust,” said Niki Sharma, Attorney General. “Once this new legislation passes, we will be able to sue more wrongdoers, as we’ve done successfully with tobacco and opioid companies, and keep more people in B.C. healthy and safe.”

The legislation provides a way for government to go after social media companies for the harms their algorithms cause people, especially kids. If passed, the legislation will also apply to companies producing products designed to create addiction, particularly in children and young adults.

This new legislation represents one more tool in a cross-government effort to keep people safe and healthy throughout the province.

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