I want to thank those of you who have contacted me about Bill C-51 to express concerns about how the legislation may negatively affect access to natural health products.
A tremendous amount of confusion has surrounded this bill in recent weeks so I am pleased to be able to provide my views on this important issue.
The Liberal party will work to ensure this legislation does not further restrict the use, sale, or distribution of safe natural health products. I firmly believe Canadians have a fundamental right to have access and choice in treatment options regarding their health.
I support measures which strengthen the regulatory process to ensure Canadians are able to access safe and effective products.
First and foremost, Bill C-51 does not target natural health products but rather makes significant changes to how prescription drugs are regulated in Canada.
There is nothing in Bill C-51 that changes the status of natural health products from over-the-counter, as they are now, to prescription. The new legislation will update the Food and Drug Act.
The new legislation will allow a life cycle approach to the approval of drugs. Under the current system, once a drug is approved for sale, it is not reassessed.
This new system allows for continuous monitoring and evaluation of products over its lifecycle based on actual use of the drugs, rather than the use it was approved for.
The minister can order new clinical trials on a drug based on market information.
The legislation gives the minister the power to recall unsafe products. The current consumer product safety system functions on a voluntary basis for all products except food.
This means if a product is considered dangerous or poses a health risk, it is up to the manufacturer, importer, or re-seller to voluntarily recall their product.
If the bill passes second reading, it will be sent to committee for further study. At committee, the legislation can be reviewed in detail to ensure it is accountable, transparent, and effective.
At that time, parliamentarians will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of experts, including individuals and organizations from the natural health products industry.
If we learn that this bill will, in fact, impose undue restrictions on natural health products, then we will propose amendments. Should the government refuse these amendments, we will reserve the right to vote against the bill at third reading.
I will exercise due diligence to ensure the legislation does not adversely affect access to natural health products.
The health, safety, and well-being of Canadians has been, and will continue to be, at the heart of the Liberal party’s examination of this legislation.
Please be assured that we will continue to be vigilant in our study of this issue.