B.C. law to recover health costs from 'wrongdoers' behind harmful products: AG Sharma

  • Canadian Press

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has introduced proposed legislation to recover health−related costs from alleged "wrongdoers," including social−media giants.

Attorney General Niki Sharma introduced the legislation today, saying that if it passes, it will allow the province to use the courts for recovery of health−related costs associated with the promotion and distribution of products that are harmful.

The government says in a statement that the law would provide a way for it to go after social media companies for the harms their algorithms cause people, especially kids.

Sharma says the bill is modelled on previous legislation that allows the province to seek recovery of health−related tobacco and opioid damage costs.

She says the legislation would make companies accountable for hurting people and would allow the province to claim for hospital treatments, doctors appointments and could even be proactive to prevent risk of disease, illness or injury.

A government report released in 2022 said tobacco−related illness was the leading cause of preventable death in B.C., at 6,000 people a year, and it cost the health system $2.3 billion annually.

Sharma says in a statement that too many people in B.C. are living with negative health impacts from products they should be able to trust.

"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."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2024.

The Canadian Press