One of the top items that local residents, small businesses and health professionals have reached out to me about recently is proposed federal policies which will affect natural health products (NHPs).
At the same time as they are putting new labelling requirements into effect, Health Canada recently proposed new and considerable costs for manufacturers of NHPs. These new policies on health supplements are so dramatic that several supplement manufacturers, particularly small businesses, claim it will be simply too expensive and burdensome to continue doing business in Canada.
Retailers, distributors, health professionals, and (residents) say this an attack by Ottawa on personal health choices, and there is genuine concern many NHPs that people rely on will become unavailable to Canadians.
Existing regulations on health supplements already keep Canadians safe. In fact, the Government of Canada’s website states, “Health Canada regulates natural health products (NHPs) so that Canadians can have confidence that products they use are safe, effective, and of high quality”.
Unnecessary new regulations put Canadian businesses at a disadvantage in the global market. Furthermore, Canadians stand to lose access to the health supplements they choose to use as a result of red tape and bureaucratic gatekeeping, rather than health impacts. This new red tape is about giving more power to Ottawa, not protecting Canadians.
My Conservative colleagues and I believe in enhanced freedom for Canadians in their choice of natural health products and complementary treatments, and this is something we will continue to fight for.
The Office of the Auditor General of Canada released a 2021 report that indicated about 70% of Canadians regularly use NHPs to maintain their health and prevent minor health problems. In a 2016 survey, more than half of the Canadian participants said they used vitamins and minerals weekly.
The federal government brought forth Bill C-47 in the House of Commons and Health Canada has undertaken initiatives aimed at adding, or amending, fees, labelling and other aspects of the regulation of NHPs.
Bill C-47 has provisions that affect the Food and Drugs Act and NHPs. Conservatives moved specific amendments that would have removed these changes. However, due to the NDP-Liberal partnership and their combined voting power, these amendments were voted down. Conservatives voted against the entirety of Bill C-47.
These new regulations do nothing to further protect Canadians but, instead, give more power to the federal government and its bureaucracy, adding unnecessary costs to products that many Canadians use and rely on.
Canadian businesses will be put in a difficult predicament due to these new restrictions. Many small and medium-sized businesses in Canada could be forced to close their operations or reduce product lines because of these unrealistic, unfair and costly changes. Retailers and natural health professionals could have fewer products available for sale and importers could look to reduce product lines to Canada due to added red tape and extra costs.
The burden of the costs for products that remain on shelves will be passed down to the consumer, once again, fuelling the cost-of-living crisis and making life more expensive.
I will continue to hold the federal government to account to ensure Canadian businesses are competitive and Canadians’ access to safe natural health products is protected.
Please note, that there is a mechanism in place for the public to provide feedback to the government on these proposed changes. If you are interested in this, and in seeing more details on this issue, please email my office and (my staff) will send you additional information.
If you need assistance with programs, or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].
Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.