Mr. Speaker, in response to parts (a), (b) and (c), natural health products have been regulated under the natural health products regulations since 2004, and Canadians now have access to more than 150,000 licensed natural health products. The government is committed to preserving access to a wide range of health products, while making sure that Canadians have the information they need on the product labels to make informed health choices. Health Canada is dedicated to being reasonable, thoughtful and deliberate in how it develops its policy proposals and how it implements any changes.
Since fall 2016, departmental officials have conducted extensive consultations with a diverse range of stakeholders to gain their perspectives and concerns on proposed changes to the natural health products regulations to improve the labelling of natural health products, and the food and drug regulations to modernize the oversight approach for non-prescription drugs. Health Canada has received input from over 4,500 consumers, industry, health care professionals, academia and many other interested stakeholders. This engagement will continue as proposals advance over the coming months to further seek stakeholders’ perspectives and collaboratively work with them on potential solutions.
With regard to the natural health products regulations, Health Canada is proposing changes to improve the labelling of natural health products to make labels easier to read and understand, help consumers make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families, and reduce avoidable harms associated with confusing or illegible labels. Under this new proposal, labels would require a standardized product facts table, a minimum font size and appropriate colour contrast. This proposal is targeting spring 2020 for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette, part I. To support this proposal and its implementation, Health Canada has been engaging stakeholders extensively and has been meeting individual companies representing tens of thousands of natural health products on the Canadian market, to identify any challenges with implementing the proposed labelling changes and working in collaboration with stakeholders to identify potential solutions. Furthermore, Health Canada will publish its proposed guidance on labelling changes in June 2019 to seek additional feedback on the proposed changes prior to formal consultation in Canada Gazette, part I.
In April 2019, Health Canada published its findings from public opinion research on improving self-care product labelling during in-person public consultations held across Canada in 2018: “Consulting Consumers on Self-Care Product Labelling: A Report on What We Heard”, https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/topics/self-care-products/what-we-heard-product-labelling.html.
With regard to the food and drug regulations, Health Canada is proposing changes to modernize the oversight approach for non-prescription drugs, which range from cosmetic-like topical products to higher-risk products such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. This proposal would introduce simplified market access pathways for lower-risk products and reduce regulatory burden for industry. This proposal is targeting spring 2020 for pre-publication in Canada Gazette, part I.
The regulatory modernization proposals, as described above, are outlined in Health Canada’s “Forward Regulatory Plan 2019-2021”: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/corporate/about-health-canada/legislation-guidelines/acts-regulations/forward-regulatory-plan/plan/self-care-framework.html.
More information on the proposed regulatory changes and how stakeholders can get involved can be found in “Next steps on the self-care products initiative”, at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/self-care-framework.html.
Health Canada remains committed to continue to engage stakeholders throughout the regulatory modernization process.