On November 4, 1998, the House of Commons Standing Committee
on Health tabled its report, titled Natural Health Products:
A New Vision. The report contained 53 recommendations, all
of which were accepted by the Government on March 2, 1999. The first
recommendation read that Health Canada, in conjunction with
a new separate Natural Health Products Expert Advisory Committee
(EAC) should set out an appropriate definition of natural health
products (NHPs) and amend the Food and Drugs Act accordingly.
However, for expediency, a regulatory definition was created and
implemeted instead of amending the law; Natural Health Products
(NHPs) would be considered as drugs under the Food and Drugs Act.
In Health Canadas page of Frequently Asked Questions, the
following response was given for the question of why the Act was
While creating another category distinct from both food
and drugs was considered, an amendment at the level of the Act would
have been necessary. Due to the timelines and legislative process
required for a change of this magnitude, it was decided that natural
health products would be considered drugs under the Act, but with
a set of regulations specific to NHPs.
In effect, Health Canada is stating that they chose not to
implement the direction of the government, but there was a good
reason amending the Act would take a long time and be a lot
of work. However, on April 8, 2008, the Minister of Health introduced
Bill C-51, An act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. This legislation
introduces new definitions, including a new product category called
therapeutic products, a term that encompasses drugs,
medical devices and cells used for therapeutic purposes. Despite
there being an opportunity to amend the Act, an opportunity to amend
definitions in the Act and include a decade-old Government directive
to include Natural Health Products as a separate legal category,
drafters of the bill chose not to. The question remains: why?
What would you do if your favourite vitamins, minerals, herbs,
homeopathics or nutritional supplements disappeared? Consumers have
the right to know how regulations affect their choices. Shawn Buckley,
LLB presents a talk about endangered natural health products at
St. Andrews Wesley Church, 1022 Nelson St., Vancouver, Monday, June
On April 8th, Canadas Minister of Health, Tony Clement, introduced Bill C-51 into the House of Commons. If passed, the bill will drastically alter the current Food and Drugs Act, and that will be bad news for many Canadians.
Since 2004, when the Natural Health Product Regulations were first introduced, natural health products have been increasingly threatened. The regulations were Health Canadas response to consumer demands for the government to protect their access to natural health products. Unfortunately, the regulations have had the opposite effect.
Expectations are that if Federal Bill C-51 is passed, around 75 percent of new applications will most likely fail to meet new requirements.
Bill C-51 reads like a police state manual
There has never been a recorded death in Canada caused by a natural health product. Considering that there are multiple deaths every year caused by common foods such as peanuts and shellfish, it is clear that natural health products are extremely safe. When you consider the benefits of natural health products, including that many of us rely upon them for our very lives, it becomes clear that the real danger in regulating them is to over-regulate them off the market.
Bill C-51 would also give Health Canada unprecedented power
to take natural health products away from consumers.
Traditionally, in Canada we have had the rule of law. This meant that it was not okay for the government to take our property without a warrant or without court supervision to prevent arbitrariness and abuse.
It is troubling that to protect us the state can seize our property without prior court approval, without clearly defined reasons for the seizure, without time limit, and without court supervision. It is troubling that the state can commit trespass on our property without any recourse. It is troubling that we can be personally fined and jailed for corporate misdeeds. I am still in disbelief. Surely, we can draft consumer protection legislation that does not read like a police state handbook.
The Federal government is proposing to take away our right to choose and make our health decisions for us. We would then be forced to use other treatments such as chemical pharmaceutical drugs, which can be dangerous and ineffective. For those of us who only get relief from natural health products, the new law would force us to suffer and, in extreme circumstances, die.
Urgent call to action
The Bill isnt yet law but will be unless concerned Canadians
act quickly. You can voice your opposition by writing and calling
your MPs, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper (613-992-4211 or 403-253-7990)
or Tony Clement (613-944-7740 or 705-746-9053). Postage-free letters
to any of them can be sent care of the House of Commons, Ottawa,
Ontario, K1A-0A6. Check out www.nhppa.org
for more information.