Naturopaths Fear Proposed Bill C-51

Posted on Wednesday, May 21 at 13:35 by akston

Noor Javed, The Toronto Star
May 21, 2008 04:30 AM

C-51 may restrict access to natural health products by lumping them in with pharmaceuticals, they say

Every week, Daniel Chiang, a nutritionist and clinic owner at the Inspired Life Health Centre on Danforth Ave., treats more than a dozen patients, offering them “alternative medicine options” to help heal ailments ranging from the flu to digestive problems.

Sometimes, he suggests home remedies; other times it may be a nutritional supplement. He has always been able to recommend or suggest as he chooses. But now he worries this could change with Bill C-51, legislation – making its way through Parliament – that will modernize the Food and Drugs Act for the first time in over 50 years.

Among proposed changes in Bill C-51 are greater penalties for rule-breakers, power for the health minister to recall unsafe drug products, and improved safety of all products.

But critics – who have been carefully monitoring the progress of the bill, which is awaiting second reading – fear changes to the act will restrict access to natural health products, delay their approval and give the health ministry unprecedented powers of enforcement.

Critics fear the ministry would be able to suspend or cancel clinical trials, disclose and demand confidential information, and impose costly fines for minor infractions – with no mention of an appeal process after such decisions. Maximum fines for an indictable offence under the act could increase from $5,000 to as much as $5 million.

Basically, this is unbelievable granting of police state powers to essentially untrained field staff, inspectors at Health Canada, who are making life-and-death decisions based on misguided policy,” said Peter Helgason, vice-president of political affairs for the Natural Health Products Protection Association. “What I don’t understand is, what problem are they trying to fix with this?”

Tony Clement, the federal health minister who tabled the legislation this year, said increased government oversight is needed to protect the public.

“Canadians are concerned with the food that they eat and the pills that they take, so we’re not going to back down. Everybody is going to be regulated. We’re not going to exempt an entire industry from regulation.”

Source | See Also: Canada’s C-51 Law May Outlaw 60% Of Natural Health Products | Codex Alimentarius — An Emerging Threat

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