Child Car Seat Rules Ontario
In Ontario, if your child has a special need (such as a medical condition) that does not allow your child to use a conventional child car seat, you may choose to use a child restraint system that complies with federal safety standards that regulate alternative restraints for children with special needs.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act allows children weighing 9 kg to 18 kg (20 to 40 lb.) to use a forward-facing child car seat or a rear-facing car seat as long as the car seat manufacturer recommends its use.
Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act requires children to use a booster seat when they weigh 18 kg to 36 kg (40-80 lb.), are less than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches) tall, and are under the age of 8. This is a minimum requirement. It is best to keep your child in a booster seat until they reach the manufacturer’s height or weight limits.
These regulations were originally created in the 1980s because the vehicle seat belt systems (which are meant for adult occupants) were not designed to protect children in the event of a collision. Requirements were also added to address special situations. For example, standards for restraint systems for infants with special needs were created partly because while children are safest when sitting at a certain seat back angle, infants with special needs need to lie flat on their backs.
Transport Canada continues to examine ways to improve the level of safety provided by existing standards through the Department’s research program. If the department sees an opportunity to enhance the safety of Canadian products regulated under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, we then work with our international partners in an effort to create harmonized regulations, so that seat manufacturers can offer very similar, updated, compliant seats in multiple markets. This keeps the seats affordable for Canadians.
The booster seat helps to keep the vehicle’s seat belt in the correct position across a child’s shoulder, middle of the chest and over the hips. Watch a video to see if your child is ready for a booster seat (Parachute Canada).
A forward-facing car seat uses a tether strap to prevent the child car seat from moving forward and causing injury in a collision. It is important to use the tether strap exactly as the manufacturer recommends.
It is not necessary to replace a child seat as a result of these recent changes. However, the child seat should be replaced if it was in a car that was involved in a collision. Even if your child wasn’t in the child seat when the collision occurred, the child seat could be damaged. Child seats have expiry dates - so make sure you replace yours when it expires. If the shell or materials on the seat are ripped or damaged, replace it. The previous standards had provided a high level of safety for children for many years and will continue to provide protection throughout the useful life of a child restraint. It is important to note that if you own a car seat or booster seat made before January 1, 2012, under Health Canada's Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, you may not be able to advertise, sell, or give it (including lending) away because it may not meet the latest requirements set out by Health Canada.