An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act

This bill was last introduced in the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in November 2005.

This bill was previously introduced in the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session and the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session.

Sponsor

Colin Carrie  Conservative

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Not active, as of March 9, 2005
(This bill did not become law.)

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 12th, 2003 / 3:15 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a huge petition here from some 27,000 Canadians. It is a very weighty matter. It is on the subject of natural health products.

Canadians are saying no to regulating our nutrients as drugs. They are concerned about natural health products being regulated as a subclass of drugs. They also call for the repeal of section 3 of the antiquated Food and Drugs Act and schedule A.

These are recommendations that my private member's bill, Bill C-420, addresses and that are badly needed. Nine ladies who were today because of the withdrawal of their natural health product that has helped them with bipolar disease, because Health Canada is restricting their product at the border, illustrates the need for this to be enacted. I hope the government is listening to the will of Canadians on this matter.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, it may come as a bit of surprise that even though I support the positions that have been enunciated with respect to Bill C-250, I am actually going to present a petition on something else.

Pursuant to Standing Order 36 the petition is certified correct as to form and content. To illustrate the cooperative manner of members in the House, this petition relates to an initiative undertaken by a member of the opposition with respect to herbal care products.

The petitioners draw to the attention of the House that Canadians deserve freedom of choice in health care products, that herbs, dietary supplements and other traditional natural health products should be properly classified as food and not arbitrarily as drugs and that the weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders through the judicious use of natural health products.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to support Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

April 30th, 2003 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a bundle of petitions to present today on the subject of freedom of choice in natural health products and personal health care.

There are approximately 30,000 signatures and more coming in daily from coast to coast. The action called for would be accomplished by passing my private member's Bill C-420.

These Canadians are calling upon Parliament to recognize that natural health products are foods, not drugs, and that access to these safe products should not be unduly curtailed by government bureaucrats and antiquated legislation.

They call upon Parliament to recognize that the weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders through the judicious use of natural health products.

The petitioners ask Parliament to restore freedom of choice in natural health products by deleting subsections 3(1) and (2), and schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act.

Private member's Bill C-420, currently before the House, addresses the concerns of these citizens, the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health and the Office of Natural Health Products' transition team that reported in March 2000.

It is my hope that all members of the House will support this initiative and give Canadians the freedom of choice in natural health products for which they are looking.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 6:20 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

Larry Spencer Canadian Alliance Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, it is my privilege to stand and speak to Bill C-420. Going back to the election campaign, I had a number of people ask me about my support for natural health products. Since that time I have had a number of constituents write to my office or call to ask what has happened with this or why have we not moved on it. I have been asked what we are doing and whether we support natural health products.

I would like to get on the record today to ensure my constituents understand that I support this. The bill is an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. It seeks to bring herbs, dietary supplements and other natural health products under the purview of Health Canada's food directorate by amending the definitions of both “food” and “drug” in the Food and Drugs Act and to implement the recommendations the transition team of the Office of National Health Products by repealing sections 3(1) and 3(2) in schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act.

Let me go to a personal experience before I come back to the details. With an agricultural background, one may know that when an animal on the farm becomes ill, the first and main treatment veterinary medicine uses to treat that animal is proper nutrition. Usually minerals, vitamin supplements and that sort of thing are recommended to bring the animal back to a proper condition of health.

I believe over the years we have learned that this is a very good practice for us as human beings, to first look after our nutrition and perhaps to go so far as to take supplements, like they do on the farm to supplement the natural food available to those animals and to guarantee their health.

Years ago I was introduced to a natural health product. After having knee surgery, three or four months later my knee was still sore and swollen. There was a goose egg on top of my knee that was like a golf ball cut in half. I was told about a natural health product but I could only be told that it might help because it had been known to help some other people, not because there was something in it that would help.

Recommendation 19 says that natural health products should be allowed to make health claims including structure, function, claims, risk reductions, claims and treatment claims. That cannot be done right now. It cannot be said that this is usually good for arthritis or it is usually good for swollen joints. However people who sell these natural health products can legally say that they knew old Joe over there, that he had an operation on his knee, that it was swollen and that it did not go away for four months. However when he started to take that natural health product and before the week was over, his knee was well, the swelling gone, the lump gone and the limp gone. Those kinds of things are happening with some of the natural health products. However it is against the law to say on the label that this may or may not happen.

I am very concerned that we make a move to have more accurate labelling on these health products to inform people what the products might accomplish for the human body. Right now there is a total lack of labelling on them. The label only says what is in the bottle. No kind of directions or claims can be made other than a recommended dosage. Any move to clarify the labelling and make even better suggestions to that would be welcome.

We always seem to worry. We find the bad news in every situation and we worry about would happen if somebody misused some of these natural health products. The question I would ask is what happens if somebody misuses the doctor's prescription. I believe that is a problem that we need to look at.

We understand the misuse of prescription drugs in North America is rampant and people are dying and yet we act worried because somebody might take a little sampling of garlic or onion in a concentrated dose.

Medicine in this century and in this nation needs to be administered by more than simply drug pushers. I am concerned that when we go to a doctor, we are pointed to one drug but if that does not work we are pointed to another and another until one works, and we call that science. Yet we worry when we are told to eat lettuce or garlic. We worry about the natural products when it is the drug products that are killing us. The misuse of drugs is the problem, not the misuse of natural health products.

My colleague in the Bloc suggested that there might be a third category. That is true, we might use a third category but we might have to go at it a little more scientifically. However we may want to take this baby step first before we get to that point.

I understand in the United States there is a third category being developed. I do not know how far along it is or if the legislation has passed, but the third category is called a nutriceutical. This is where the nutrients are tested scientifically so the health product can then receive a label and be recommended for some very specific health benefits to the body. Perhaps that amendment may have to go to that.

We have the observations that even under the labelling of being a food, we still have protections under the Food and Drugs Act. I think my colleague mentioned those.

He said that it could not be a harmful or a poisonous substance and that it could not be unfit for human consumption. He also said that it could not be filthy, putrid, disgusting or rotten, which l think are things people regularly eat and use. I could put some things, which people pay good money for, into that category right quick, but that cannot be in a nutriceutical or adulterated. It has to be manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged and stored under sanitary conditions. No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading, and on and on they go. So there are protections there.

I believe it is time that we understand that health is more related to what happens and what goes into our body ahead of time than what goes into our body when we go to the doctor and he gives us a prescription of drugs.

I think we need to open this up. We need to allow our people to take responsibility for what they eat and what they choose, whether it be off the grocery store shelf or off the health food store shelf. I think we are headed in the right direction by making this baby step for this natural health product.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 6:10 p.m.
See context

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Madam Speaker, it is an interesting debate tonight. I will make reference to some of the comments made by my Bloc colleague as well as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and also the member for Nanaimo--Alberni, who I think has to be given a lot of credit for addressing this problem.

We may disagree on some of the finer points of Bill C-420, but I think there is an opportunity here for the House and all parliamentarians. Obviously if we can agree that the bill is worthy of our support it would move on to the committee stage where it could be examined. Some of the difficulties that have been addressed by some of our colleagues here could be addressed at the committee stage, because I think the bill is doable.

With this bill, the member is attempting to allow Canadians easier access to the natural health products that they desire. I will read from the news release of March 20 from the member for Nanaimo--Alberni. I do not think we disagree with this either. It states:

Canadians deserve the freedom to make their own health choices, and not to have those choices randomly curtailed by bureaucrats in Ottawa.

The news release continues:

Bill C-420... an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, would define dietary supplements, herbs and other natural health products as food products, ensuring that natural health products are not arbitrarily classed as drugs and denied to Canadians without the scientific evidence to justify it.

When my colleague from the Bloc was speaking, he identified a problem with the word “food”, but I think that can be addressed and changed at committee, to fine tune the bill, to get around what he observed as a problem.

We have to remember that in 1997 over one million Canadians sent a message to the government demanding that government restore their freedom of choice and access to natural health products. Of course this bill addresses their concerns. The bill also repeals outdated regulations that prevent the advertising of natural products that could address some of the diseases and disorders that we have today. There is no question that they can, that they would and that they have in the past.

There were a number of recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Health in 1998. Recommendations 19, 35 and 36 of the report recommended that:

  1. [Natural health products] be allowed to make health claims, including structure-function claims, risk-reduction claims and treatment claims.

  2. Health Canada immediately initiate a review of the diseases listed in Schedule A to ensure that only appropriate diseases are included and, where relevant, specific diseases be exempted by regulation from the broad terms found in Schedule A.

  3. Health Canada, subsequently, conduct a study with the participation of representatives from consumer groups, the food, natural health products and pharmaceutical industries, and health practitioners to determine whether subsections 3(1) and (2) of the Food and Drugs Act or all of the diseases listed Schedule A should be deleted.

The interesting thing is that the then minister of health, the member for Etobicoke Centre, accepted the report's recommendations on March 26, 1999. The government then set up the Office of Natural Health Products, ONHP, transition team and accepted its clarification and expansion of the 53 recommendations, some of which I mentioned, of the health committee. In its final report, the transition team stated:

Sections 3(1) and 3(2) and Schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act are no longer relevant. They do not serve any purpose that cannot be accomplished adequately by other sections of the legislation or regulations.

More importantly, the schedule does not reflect contemporary scientific thought. The weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders listed in Schedule A through the judicious use of NHPs. It is time that the legislation and regulations reflect the prevailing science.

One of the points that the member has made, again taking a look at changes to the act, is that all Canadians are concerned with the safety of herbs, dietary supplements and other natural health products, and Canadians want to ensure that there is accountability in any health claims made by the sellers of natural health products. He is suggesting that these safeguards already exist in the Food and Drugs Act. He quotes section 4 of that act:

No person shall sell an article of food that

(a) has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance;

(b) is unfit for human consumption;

(c) consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance;

(d) is adulterated; or

(e) was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions.

The member, I think rightly so, tells us that under the existing act consumers would be protected. In regard to packaging, the act also protects consumers.

I think there is a way that this can be done. The point made by the Bloc member in terms of identifying it as a food may be problematic, but I think if we look at what the member is doing and how he is trying to make these products available to all Canadians for particular reasons, for wellness and prevention of disease, so to speak, I think it is laudable and doable. I think it is up to us as parliamentarians to find a way to make this possible and make this happen in the House.

Again, the Bloc member mentioned that there has to be another category, a category of natural health products. Perhaps that is the avenue we can do it in. He did suggest that he himself may want to bring in a new piece of legislation or introduce a private member's bill that would in fact do this. I do not think that is necessary. I think this bill can be fine tuned and address that very problem.

Again I want to thank the member for Nanaimo—Alberni for this thoughtful and considerate piece of legislation. I think he truly does reflect the recommendations that the committee made back in 1997-98. We are in a position to support this with the sole purpose of moving it on to the committee for further investigation.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 6 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to speak today on Bill C-420, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

First, I was pleased to learn that my hon. friend from the Canadian Alliance had proposed a bill to amend the Food and Drugs Act. Why? Because one of the major recommendations of 1998 report of the Standing Committee on Health was that this act should be amended. It is important to understand that one of the purposes of the amendment proposed by my hon. friend is to ensure that natural health products are no longer considered drugs but rather foods. That is my hon. colleague's major recommendation.

Except that, unfortunately, my colleague is mistaken, because a natural health product has a nature all its own. That was one of the conclusions of the Standing Committee on Health' s report. In the report's words,“NHPs [Natural health products] are different in nature from and must not be treated strictly as either food or pharmaceutical products”.

My colleague's bill would mean that a natural health product would no longer be considered a drug, which I would support. Why? Because we cannot impose the same standards of evidence on natural health products as we do on pharmaceutical products. However, at the same time, we cannot say that a natural health product is a food.

Therefore, what should my hon. colleague have done and what does the Bloc Quebecois intend to do? Present a private member's bill that would create a third category, that of natural health products. That was one of the recommendations in the report by the Standing Committee on Health. We take note of the recommendations of the committee, which stated that natural health products were neither drugs nor foods and that therefore it would make regulations concerning natural health products.

These regulations have now been published in the Canada Gazette and have been the topic of cross-Canada consultations.

However, the committee also said that we should not merely adopt regulations and that this must not delay amending the act. This is why we had to create a third category for natural health products. Herbs can be deemed to be food. A drug can be a homeopathic preparation. A vitamin supplement is considered to be a drug under the Food and Drugs Act. Food is dealt with under sections 4 and 7. Drugs are covered by sections 8 and 15. Section C deals with drugs, while section D deals with vitamins. A majority of witnesses told us that a natural health product is neither food nor a drug. I think it is fundamental that we create this third category.

Why is it important to raise this issue? Because a Health Canada survey conducted several years ago showed that 56% of Canadians had consumed natural health products in the previous six months. So, this is a major concern, because natural health products are being used.

It is also important to remember what the report said, namely that, contrary to pharmaceutical products—and that includes drugs—the requirements in terms of evidence that apply to certain claims made regarding natural health products should be more flexible. It is not true that we can require the same evidence for a natural health product as we would for a pharmaceutical product.

Why so? As I have said, natural health products have their own specific nature. There must not be exclusion of the fact that other elements must be taken into consideration, including certain more traditional approaches.

I think that, in the three claims of concern to the Bloc Quebecois, both of structure and of function, this flexibility must be ensured, a flexibility absent from the present legislation. There is one thing that is stated in the legislation: a natural health product is considered a drug. It is dangerous.

The approach taken by the government over there is dangerous also, since it proposes regulation of these natural health products. In Quebec, naturopaths and others tell us that this would mean that certain products that do not comply with the registration criteria could end up excluded.

The dissenting report by the Canadian Alliance, which I read in 1998, is clear and I support it. It says that consumers must be allowed to choose. It is my impression, however, that the government across the way is more concerned with protecting the drug companies' interests than in leaving the real choice up to the consumer.

So I believe changes need to be made to the legislation and I thank my colleague for introducing this bill. In my opinion, however, he is merely exchanging an identified problem for a new one, because natural health products are not foods. I would therefore have liked to have seen—and I make a commitment today to do so myself—the introduction of a private member's bill to create this third product category. It will define a natural health product so as to make it possible for consumers to have access to a certain number of such products.

When it comes to natural health product registration, as well, as I have said, pharmaceutical criteria must not be used. What should? The Standing Committee on Health has enlightened us on that. It has said that the evidence referred to must be based on a broad range of sources, both ancient and recent, on traditional knowledge and contemporary science. This is why natural health products have their own specific nature and are not considered drugs.

Another important aspect is the committee's recommendation asking that Health Canada, together with a new natural health products expert advisory committee set out an appropriate definition of NHPs and amend the Food and Drugs Act accordingly. Therefore, contrary to what my colleague wants to do, which is to use the food definition to include NHPs, the committee said that an appropriate definition had to be established and that the Food and Drugs Act had to be amended to reflect it.

Naturally, the report also added that Health Canada, in conjunction with the new NHP Expert Advisory Committee, examine the status of bulk herbs for legislative purposes. So, in effect, there is total confusion.

On Monday, I met with Health Canada officials in Montreal to talk about this very issue, natural health products. They told me that I was right, that the act needed to be amended to establish a distinction between NHPs and food and drugs. However, they also said that it was not their job to do so. They said it was up to legislators to assume their responsibilities.

In closing, I would like to thank my colleague for introducing this bill. I think that he is starting quite a debate.

However, as I said, I would have liked it if he had created a third category for natural health products and established a clear and precise definition for NHPs, as the Standing Committee on Health recommended in 1998.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 5:50 p.m.
See context

Madawaska—Restigouche New Brunswick

Liberal

Jeannot Castonguay LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, under the Food and Drugs Act, Health Canada is responsible for developing policies, standards and programs that are based on science in the areas of food, drugs, cosmetics and instruments. This is also the approach used by the department regarding the related issues of advertising and labelling.

I would like to say a few words on section 3 and schedule A of the current act, which Bill C-420 seeks to abrogate.

In 1934—this goes back a long time—when section 3 and schedule A were first adopted, there were no known treatments for many diseases. There were no drug prescription systems in existence. In fact, people could get powerful drugs, including barbiturates, freely. Moreover, in the absence of a universal medicare system, people often could not afford to consult a health professional. Such was the reality of the time.

Originally, the sections of the act sought to protect the health of Canadians in various ways, including by preventing fraud, by prohibiting public advertising regarding the treatment of diseases for which there were no treatment, by prohibiting the advertising of treatments when self-treatment was not deemed safe, and by encouraging individuals to consult a health professional for serious problems.

However, the context has obviously changed since then. While we should still support some of these principles, over time, consumers, industry officials and health professionals have made the following statements, among others, regarding the initial objectives of the policy that underlies schedule A and their place in the current context.

These statements include the following:

—the prevention of fraud should be part of the provisions relating to fraud that are already included in the act, instead of being an outright prohibition. However, the current provisions relating to fraud should be strengthened to deal appropriately with fraud, which would require an amendment to the act;

It was also said that:

—numerous diseases can now be treated, even though there is no known cure. For example, a product can alleviate the discomfort caused by a certain condition, or slow down the deterioration of a person's health;

As well:

—there is now a prescription system to control access to drugs for which the intervention and supervision of a physician is required;

Also:

—consumers want to make choices where their health is concerned, and want access to the information needed to make those choices. It must not be forgotten, however, that informed choices must be based on truthful and not misleading information;

Finally:

—Canadians now have access to a health care system and are better informed about their health. As a result, Canadians know they can actively seek medical assistance and are encouraged to do so.

Nevertheless, many stakeholders suggested that schedule A may still be useful and ought therefore to be preserved but—and this is a point they stress—in a clarified and modernized version.

As for the Standing Committee on Health's examination to which my colleague has just referred, the matter of section 3 and schedule A was examined by the Standing Committee on Health during its study of the regulation of natural health products in Canada. The Standing Committee on Health was presented with a variety of views.

In its final report, the Standing Committee on Health made a number of observations and recommendations, as our colleague has already said.

First, it was of the opinion that the provisions as they stand might unduly limit access to health promotion documents that might be helpful for consumers. At the very least, the list of schedule A diseases ought to undergo a thorough review so that only appropriate ones would remain on it.

As well, the Standing Committee on Health commented that a number of the diseases were listed in schedule A in broad terms. It was therefore suggested that specific diseases be exempted by regulation from the broad terms found in schedule A and thus from being banned under subsections 3(1) and 3(2).

Moreover, the committee felt that Health Canada ought to subsequently conduct a study to determine whether subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Food and Drugs Act or all of the diseases listed in schedule A should be deleted.

This should be done with the participation of representatives from consumer groups, the food, natural health products and pharmaceutical industries, as well as health practitioners.

The committee therefore recommended that Health Canada undertake a review of the diseases listed in schedule A in order to ensure that it only contained relevant diseases, and that specific diseases be exempted by regulation from the broad terms found in schedule A.

The committee also recommended that Health Canada conduct a study, along with representatives of consumer advocacy groups, and representatives from the food, natural health products and pharmaceutical industries, and health care professionals to determine whether subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Food and Drugs Act or all of the diseases listed in schedule A should be deleted.

Health Canada accepted these recommendations and is about to follow up on them. In response to the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health, Health Canada set up an internal committee to review schedule A with departmental program representatives.

This committee drafted a policy paper that clarifies the purpose and the scope of the current application of section 3 and schedule A. Based on its review, the internal committee also recommended that Health Canada invite an external working group to review the diseases listed in schedule A.

As a result, Health Canada has already undertaken a review of section 3 and schedule A of the act through the external working group that was announced on February 14, 2003. This working group will be made up of representatives from consumer advocacy groups, patient groups, universities, industry and professional health associations.

The mandate of the working group will be to submit proposals concerning criteria that could be used to identify illnesses to be included in schedule A and possible changes to the schedule. The working group's final proposal will be the basis for public consultations. The working group on schedule A will be holding its first meeting in the spring of 2003.

While great progress can be achieved through the regulatory approach that the working group will be using, there is no doubt that an indepth schedule A review of the scheme, like the one proposed in Bill C-420, requires the scrutiny of other aspects of the Food and Drugs Act. These other aspects will be examined as part of the review of health protection legislation under the Legislative Renewal Program.

As you can see, the principles behind section 3 and schedule A remain relevant in the current legislative context, to help protect the health of Canadians.

Considerable work has been undertaken and must continue to ensure that the issues related to section 3 and schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act undergo rigorous and appropriate scrutiny.

Repealing subsections 3(1) and 3(2) and schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act, as proposed in Bill C-420, should not be considered for the time being, and until such time as Health Canada has had ample opportunity to follow up on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health in the very spirit in which they were made.

A comprehensive response to the issues related to subsections 3(1) and 3(2) and to schedule A requires an indepth evaluation. It also requires public consultations on the policy directions of the government on this important issue.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to introduce Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act. This is an important bill to Canadians.It is also a simple and clean bill.

Bill C-420 responds to the requests of Canadians, beginning with attempts by Health Canada to regulate natural health products and to put them under a drug directorate that started in the nineties. In 1997 there was a huge outcry from the public in response to this over-regulation of natural health products. Over one million people communicated their displeasure to the government that natural health products such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, were harmless vitamin compounds with low adverse reactions. People did not want them to be brought under the onerous responsibility of a drug directorate.

In the 36th Parliament, the minister of the day called on the health committee to look into this. The health committee heard from Canadians and listened to witnesses from across the country. The committee tabled its report called “Natural Health Products: A New Vision” in November 1998. It contained some 53 recommendations. The provisions of Bill C-420 are taken basically out of the committee's recommendations and out of the subsequent work that was done.

Recommendation No. 36 stated:

Health Canada, subsequently, conduct a study with the participation of representatives from consumer groups, the food, natural health products and pharmaceutical industries, and health practitioners to determine whether subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Food and Drugs Act or all of the diseases listed in Schedule A should be deleted.

Recommendation No. 53 stated:

The Minister appoint, immediately, a transition team responsible for ensuring that the new framework is established quickly.

Bill C-420 addresses these recommendations. Subsections 3(1) and 3(2) and Schedule A would be deleted.

A transition team was assembled and it carried the ball a little further by creating the Office of Natural Health Products. The final report of the Office of Natural Health Products transition team was tabled on March 31, 2000. The report was the cumulation of a response to the outcry from more than one million Canadians. We know that those concerned are even greater in number today.

The transition team recommended that Schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act be removed. It lists a number of diseases, disorders or abnormal physical states for which treatments, preventions or cures cannot be advertised or sold to the general public, and in particular, makes reference to subsections 3(1) and 3(2) of the Food and Drugs Act which state:

  1. (1) No person shall advertise any food, drug, cosmetic or device to the general public as a treatment, preventative or cure for any of the diseases, disorders or abnormal physical states referred to in Schedule A.

(2) No person shall sell any food, drug, cosmetic or device (a) that is represented by label, or (b) that the person advertises to the general publicas a treatment, preventative or cure for any of the diseases, disorders or abnormal physical states referred to in Schedule A.

With regard to Schedule A, the transition team recommended that “more importantly, the schedule does not reflect contemporary scientific thought. The weight of modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases and disorders listed in Schedule A through the judicious use of NHPs. It is time the regulations and legislation reflect the prevailing science”.

A recommendation was made to remove all diseases listed in Schedule A and that subsections 3(1) and 3(2) should be revoked through legislative renewal initiatives.

My bill addresses the concerns of Canadians and the concerns identified by the health committee in the 36th Parliament. It implements the recommendations in the final report of the Office of Natural Health Products transition team.

There has been quite a lot of interest in the bill since its first reading in the House on March 20. There have been responses from across the country already because Canadians are concerned.

Frankly Canadians feel betrayed by what has happened in the interim. The good consultative process was moving in the right direction and Canadians were satisfied that the government had listened. However the Canada Gazette part I came out with the consequences of the implementation.

Canadians were led to believe there would be three categories: food, natural health products and drugs. We are finding that in fact there are only two categories: food and drugs. Natural health products have been put under the drug directorate as a subclass of drugs with the attendant responsibilities for clinical trials prior to any claims being made. This is a betrayal of all the consultation.

The bill seeks to address the concerns of Canadians. These products are ones that have traditional uses and have been in use for many years. The adverse reaction rate is very minimal, hardly measurable compared to drugs.

To put the onerous burden of a drug directorate on this industry will drive the costs up and will remove many products from the market. In fact under the existing regime many very good products have been withheld from Canadians. I will mention a few of the ones that are restricted.

This morning as part of my nutritional supplementation I took chromium picolinate. As a health care practitioner for many years, I recommended that my patients take chromium picolinate. It is essential because chromium is essential for the glucose tolerance factor and that is important for the metabolism of sugar. There are dozens of studies in the medical literature about the effectiveness of chromium and the importance of chromium as a trace mineral in the metabolic pathways of sugar. That product is technically illegal to sell in Canada because there are health claims made by it and of course scientific literature to support it.

L-tryptophan was taken off the market. It is an amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are some 22 amino acids. L-tryptophan has a calming effect. It is like a sedative. When we feel sleepy after a turkey dinner it is because there is a lot of tryptophan in turkey. Unfortunately it was taken off the market, a simple building block of protein, because it is effective in calming people down. What is wrong with this picture?

Then there are products like melatonin and stevia, a sweetener that the member for Macleod prefers to use and he is a surgeon.

I would like to compliment the members on the health committee during the 36th Parliament who heard from Canadians. The members for Macleod, Nanaimo--Cowichan, and Saskatoon--Wanuskewin represented the then Reform Party. They did an excellent minority report.

My bill calls for the deletion of subsections 3(1) and (2) which are antiquated and the deletion of schedule A. These are recommendations which the minority report supported, which the committee basically supported, and which the transition team definitely supported.

I am hoping that all members will want to get behind the bill. I know they are going to hear from Canadians. Canadians are concerned about this issue and the tremendous benefits that are being withheld from them for very poor reasons, or no reason at all.

Some communications have come in recently. Martin Hanle from Vancouver wrote, “Safe products do not need undue regulation and my right to make choices without unwarranted and unjustifiable restrictions needs to be permitted”. Alexander from Penticton wrote with similar concerns, as did Grant from Kelowna. Doris Hall from New Brunswick wrote that she is upset that natural products have been withheld while pharmaceutical products such as acetaminophen, which can have drastic drawbacks, are seemingly allowed to roam unfettered.

Inga Hanle from Vancouver wrote, “Please, please vote for Bill C-420”. Lois Flett, a registered nurse from Prince Edward Island, wrote in support of Bill C-420.

Petitioners from Nobel, Orangeville, Burlington, Toronto, Brampton, North York, Goderich, Aurora, Concord, Bobcaygeon and New Hamburg, all in Ontario, are asking for support for Bill C-420. People from Parry Sound, Ontario and from Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver, Errington, my own communities, are sending in petitions.

Jeremy Duggan from Belleville wrote:

--be assured I am in 100% agreement with the majority of my fellow citizens in demanding that our representatives represent us.... Listen to the people that elected you. Allow us the choice - we are intelligent, informed people living in the 21st century, no longer willing to tolerate 19th century politics.

Chris Gupta from London, Ontario wrote:

Like so many Canadian citizens, we have lost trust and respect in Health Canada officials.

He asked that Bill C-420 to be supported.

Trueman Tuck from Belleville said:

Please, help us change the modern medical paradigm from one addicted to pharmaceuticals and surgery, to one focused on treating and preventing the underlying causes of disease--

He supports Bill C-420.

Michael Chamish from Vancouver wrote:

As Canadians we view it as our fundamental constitutional right under the Canadian Charter of Rights to have unrestricted access to these types of products, including information.

A lawyer from Ontario wrote to express her concern. These are all just in the last few days.

Wendell Wamboldt from the Healthwize Wellness Centre said:

Ottawa just slapped our food supplements with GST/HST [according to] policy statement P-240 because of representations of the drug companies.This is a new tax as these things have never been taxed and Ottawa is trying to say it is a “policy clarification” - more government doublespeak.

People are concerned when all of a sudden companies that produce natural health products are being slapped with GST retroactively. One company is facing a half a million dollar penalty from CCRA. It seems that Health Canada has turned CCRA loose on these industries to try and shut them down, or that is the way it seems to them.

I could go on. Many other people are communicating. I expect that members will be receiving a lot of communication on this file. It is something Canadians have been asking for. It is not a question of safety.

I want to mention an excellent report done by the Fraser Institute. The institute published a report in February 2002 on its analysis of the regulatory framework. It is called “A Cure Worse Than the Illness: Canada's proposed regulatory framework for natural health products in light of international evidence”.

It is a 50 page report and I recommend it to anyone interested in this issue. It is a great overview of the proposed regulatory framework for NHPs. It compares the adherence of proposed NHP regulations to the government's own regulatory policy. These overregulations do not appear to be justified according to the government's own policy.

The Fraser Institute compares the regulation of prescription drugs vis-à-vis natural health products and it makes some very significant recommendations.

One of the things it draws attention to is worth mentioning. It talks about part 4 of the proposed regulatory framework which deals with clinical trials. According to the NHPD this component has been developed to recognize the generally accepted principles of good clinical practice. There was no mention in the regulations in any of the NHPD's public consultation documents in 2001 of clinical trials before any claims could be made for effectiveness.

There is a problem. I asked a question of Mr. Romanow because he is considered to be the champion of health care in Canada. He was at committee a little more than a week ago. I asked him about his own report because billions are going in and depending upon who is talking it is $17 billion over three years or $35 billion over five years. There is a lot of money going in but it is all going in on what we call a disease management model of health care.

There is an inverse relationship between a disease management model and a remediation and prevention model of treatment. The more we invest in remediation and prevention, the less we will have to spend on disease management.

Sadly it seems that the whole system has been preoccupied with funding an increasingly failing disease management system. We need to invest in wellness and prevention. We need to allow Canadians the freedom of choice in health care products. It is what they want. It is what they are asking for. It is what they were promised.

The bill addresses the concerns of Canadians. It is my hope that all members of the House will support the bill and will give Canadians what they are looking for.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine Québec

Liberal

Marlene Jennings LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Solicitor General of Canada

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Discussions have taken place between all parties as well as the member for Nanaimo—Alberni concerning the debate on second reading of Bill C-420. I believe that you would find consent that should the debate on the second reading stage of Bill C-420 collapse later this day and if a recorded division is requested, the said vote shall be deemed deferred until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, 2003.

Food and Drugs ActPrivate Members' Business

April 9th, 2003 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

moved that Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

March 20th, 2003 / 3:10 p.m.
See context

Canadian Alliance

James Lunney Canadian Alliance Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-420, an act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

Mr. Speaker, the bill is entitled an act to amend the Food the Drugs Act. It is a short bill but a very important bill if Canadians are to lead the world in health care outcomes.

In 1997 Canadians sent a message to the government about freedom of choice in health care. Over one million people signed petitions demanding government respect their right and access to natural health products.

The standing committee of the 36th Parliament heard from Canadians and wrote an excellent report, with 53 recommendations, that was tabled in November 1998. The committee and the transition team report recognized:

The weightof modern scientific evidence confirms the mitigation and prevention of many diseases anddisorders listed in Schedule A through the judicious use of NHPs.

It is time that the legislation and regulations reflect the prevailing science.

The bill would remove schedule A from the act and restore Canadians' right and access to natural health products that build healthy bodies and therefore healthy Canadians. This is a priority for many Canadians and I hope that it will be supported by all members of the House.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)