Mr. Speaker, I would be able to support all the points raised by the hon. member if they were backed by facts. However, he is mistaken. It is important that I make some clarifications.
The security of the public, the security of food and the wholesomeness of our products are very important things for the health minister; they are his responsibility and they are sacred for him.
First, it is important to recognize that, in the case of food, these authorizations can only be given for products that already exist. We are not talking here of new products, of new chemical products created in a laboratory for consumption and for which political pressure is put on the minister. We are talking about products that are already being used. The case that we are interested in concerns the new uses of different products under different forms, such as, for example, the addition of a vitamin or a grain that we already know to existing products.
Instead of waiting for products to go through the few required years of the regulatory cycle, the minister can, after scientific assessments, authorize that they be put on the market. By doing that, we are not bypassing the scientific assessment process. Once these assessments are completed, we can ask for a temporary authorization. That is already done.
This does not change anything for the Canadian public. It is a response to the House committee's valid requirement that our regulations comply with the legislation. We would not want public servants to take it upon themselves to implement measures under the minister's responsibility. Unless the regulations and the act allow it, that is how we will proceed.
As for the pesticides and control products that farmers want to use, the hon. member's statements suggest that major pharmaceutical companies are putting a great deal of pressure on the minister. That is not so. The request is coming from farmers and manufacturers. The latter want us to be competitive. It is not a question of bypassing scientific assessments. Authorization can only be granted once assessments have been made. It is important to realize that. The safety of food, the public and consumers is at stake.
These assessments are done both here and in the U.S. and yield the same results. In both countries, the process indicates to the government whether it should authorize the use of the products in question and determines the residue limits of certain products. The industries in direct competition south of the border take less time than we do to release products on the market. Our regulatory control cycle usually takes two years. Once scientific assessments are done, the minister will have the power, as he does now, to issue a provisional market release authorization notice. Even if scientific assessments have been done, the process goes forward and we continue to hold consultations and make the prescribed amendments. No shortcuts are taken in the process whatsoever.
We have to realize that this does not concern pharmaceutical products, nor drugs for humans, but in many cases it concerns veterinary products. Again, these are not new products, but existing ones. Their use is assessed, or their residue limits are determined, in the case of pesticides. Public safety is guaranteed and protected.
What we are trying to do is to help our farmers and our industries become competitive on a global scale. To do so, we must provide a smart and effective regulatory control that satisfies consumers and farmers alike.