- Bill C-51
Bill C-51 is part of the new Consumer Product Safety Plan being proposed by the
Government of Canada.
The legislative package proposes amendments to the
Food and Drugs Actas well as a new Canada Consumer Product Safety Act. These bills, C-51 and C-52are a result of increased consumer concern over products, drugs and food which have been the subject of recalls over the past few years. Canada’s Hazardous Products Act have not been updated in over 40 years and the Food and Drug Act has not been updated in over 50 years. Although Canada’s regulatory system is among the best in the world, it has not kept pace with the global economy and increasing amounts of international trade. The Minister of Health, for example, currently doesn’t have the power to force recall of faulty or counterfeit products in Canada. There is currently no mandatory reporting of adverse reactions to drugs, another gap which will be addressed by the proposed legislation.
Support for improving Consumer Product Safety
Health Canadaconsulted widely with industry and consumer groups over a period of several years before bringing forward the Consumer Product Safety Action Plan.
Health Canada regularly issues warnings, advisories and information updates to advise consumers of products on the market which contain unlisted pharmaceutical ingredients; contain toxic substances such as mercury or
arsenic; or are otherwise contaminated by dangerous and unhealthy substances. However under existing legislation, the Minister of Healthhas no power to compel recall of these products.
For example, in July
2007 Health Canadaissued a warning [ [http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2007/2007_79-eng.php "Counterfeit Toothpaste Falsely Labelled as Colgate Found to Contain Harmful Bacteria"] ] about a shipment of toothpaste fraudulently branded as “Colgate” which contained bacteriathat could make people sick. The toothpaste was not produced by Procter and Gamble, manufacturers of the real Colgatebrand, and although it was labelled “Made in China” in fact it was apparently made and shipped from South Africa.
2008, CTV's W-Fiveran a story about a Natural Health Productcalled Sleepeeswhich was illegally adulterated with estazolam, a potentially addictive prescription drug. Bill C-51 is intended to ensure that tainted products are found and recalled, and will help target the minority of natural health product manufacturers who behave irresponsibly.
Opposition to Bill C-51, while vociferous, has been based mainly on exaggerated claims, such as that the Bill will outlaw many common vitamins, compel prescriptions for things like Vitamin C, and will reject almost 80 per cent of natural health products submitted for approvals. Claims have also been made that it would be illegal for parents to feed their children blueberries.
These rumours come from an organization that has named itself “Stop C-51.” This group is funded by a company called
Truehope Nutritional Support Ltd., the Albertafirm that makes EMpowerPlus, a multi-vitamin mixture billed as a treatment for bipolarand other serious psychiatric illnesses. Truehope was tried in 2006, but acquitted, for selling the treatment as a drug without a licence.
The campaign is being referred to as an Astroturf campaign [cite web|title=Firms back campaign against health bill|url=http://www.nationalpost.com/story.html?id=590205] . An “Astroturf” campaign is a paid public relations campaign designed to appear as a grassroots campaign driven by average Canadians.
Health Canadaand the Minister of Health Tony Clementhave rebutted most of what Stop C-51 alleges [cite web|title=Bill C-51 and the Regulation of Natural Health Products - Fast Facts|url=http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/pr-rp/facts-c51-fiches_e.html] , and companies such as Jamieson[cite web|title=Jamieson Labratories comments on the merits of bill C-51|url=http://www.jamiesonvitamins.com/en/advice/healthnews_130.aspx] , the Canadian Health Food Associationand mainstream Canadian health reporters, such as the Globe and Mail's Andre Picardsupport C-51 with its proposed amendments.
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/LEGISINFO/index.asp?Language=E&Session=15&query=5420&List=toc Bill C-51]
* [http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ Health Canada]
* [http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/pr-rp/action-plan_e.html Consumer Product Safety Act]
* [http://www.stopc51.com/ Stop C-51]
* [http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20080221/wfive_sleepese_080221/20080223?hub=WFive W-Five Sleepees story]
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