Health Canada is reporting 292 instances of “illegal, false, or misleading advertising of products claiming to mitigate, prevent, treat, diagnose or cure COVID-19.”
Products featured in the list include some of the most prevalent pieces of personal protective equipment like masks, gloves face shields and hand sanitizer.
Some of the more obscure items were “medicinal mushrooms” that the maker claimed “will strengthen body [sic] by fighting off infections, colds, and flus,” and an “anti-dust anti-fog hat” that purported it “effectively isolates saliva carrying coronavirus.”
Despite the apparent seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, none of the companies in the list have faced any charges for their false claims.
Responding to a question from CTV News, Health Canada spokesperson Andre Gagnon told the outlet, “The primary objective of Health Canada's compliance and enforcement approach is to manage the risks to Canadians using the most appropriate level of intervention.”
Companies flagged as non-compliant by Health Canada are then told to “take timely and appropriate action to address any non-compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements.”
Options for enforcement actions from Health Canada can come in the form of on-site visits, recalls, public communications, and product seizures; Health Canada can then refer charges to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, though Gagnon says “To date, there have been no referrals to the PPSC for the incidents listed on our website.”
Health Canada is responsible for the regulation of medical supplies including N95 respirators and face shields, as well as medical goggles and gowns.