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Meeting No. 49
Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Standing Committee on Health met at 9:11 a.m. this day, in Room 253-D, Centre Block, for the purpose of electing a Chair, pursuant to Standing Order 106(1).


Members of the Committee present: Bonnie Brown, Colin Carrie, Hon. Brenda Chamberlain, Jean Crowder, Ruby Dhalla, Steven John Fletcher, James Lunney, Réal Ménard, Rob Merrifield, Michael John Savage and Hon. Robert Thibault.


Acting Members present: Nicole Demers for Marcel Gagnon.


In attendance: Library of Parliament: Nancy Miller Chenier, Analyst; Sonya Norris, Analyst. House of Commons: Marc Toupin, Procedural Clerk.

The Clerk of the Committee presided over the election of a Chair.

On motion of Rob Merrifield, it was agreed, — That Bonnie Brown be elected Chair of the Committee.


On motion of Michael John Savage, it was agreed, — That Rob Merrifield be elected as first Vice-Chair of the Committee.


On motion of Nicole Demers, it was agreed, — That Réal Ménard be elected as second Vice-Chair of the Committee.

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, March 9, 2005, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-420, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act.

The Committee commenced its clause-by-clause study of the Bill.


Robert Thibault moved, — Whereas Health Canada is taking action to modernize Section 3 and Schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act to reflect scientific and medical advances and to ensure that Canadians have access to reliable product information to make informed decisions about their health. Specifically:

— Health Canada convened a Scientific Advisory Panel in September 2005 to review and update the diseases and conditions listed on Schedule A in order to reflect current scientific understanding, and to consider options for achieving the objectives of Section 3 and Schedule A in general while keeping pace with evolving scientific knowledge. The Panel is expected to report to Health Canada in October 2005.

— Health Canada intends to proceed with regulatory amendments in order to modernize how it achieves the objectives of Section 3 and Schedule A of the Food and Drugs Act while supporting Canadians’ ability to make healthy choices and informed decisions about their health with trustworthy product information.

  • The current regulatory regime for Natural Health Products was created in accordance with the recommendations of the 1998 report, Natural Health Products - A New Vision, of the Standing Committee on Health;
  • The Committee heard convincing, science-based testimony from witnesses who have indicated their support for the current Natural Health Product Regulations. It is clear, based on the evidence, that regulating natural health products as foods would have a detrimental impact on consumers because, with very few exceptions, foods are not subject to pre-market review and food labels do not provide treatment, dosage, or warning information;
  • The Regulations ensure safety through an appropriate level of oversight, permit a full range of evidence-based health claims, and ensure high quality through outcome-based good manufacturing practices;
  • The Regulations were developed following extensive consultations and, thus, reflect the desire of Canadians for a regulatory framework appropriate to the level of risk associated with natural health products.
Therefore, be it resolved that this Committee, pursuant to Standing Order 97.1, recommends that the House of Commons do not proceed further with Bill C-420, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (definitions of “food” and “drug”).

Debate arose thereon.


Rob Merrifield moved, — That the Committee suspend consideration of the motion proposed by Mr. Thibault and the clause-by-clause study of Bill C-420, until November 22, 2005.


After debate, the question was put on the motion and it was agreed to, by a show of hands: YEAS: 6; NAYS: 4.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the Committee on Tuesday, October 4, 2005, the Committee resumed its study of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control.

The Committee resumed consideration of the motion of Robert Thibault, — That the Chair of the Standing Committee on Health write a letter to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance and urge the Finance Committee to take the funding of a pan-Canadian strategy on cancer and chronic disease into consideration during the budget consultations that are currently ongoing.


By unanimous consent, the motion was withdrawn.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2) and the motion adopted by the Committee on Thursday, May 19, 2005, the Committee resumed its study on silicone gel-filled breast implants.

Jean Crowder moved, — Whereas, the Expert Advisory Panel on Silicone Breast Implants heard three days of testimony from two manufacturers of implants, and;

Whereas, the Expert Advisory Panel heard only two and a half hours of testimony divided between forty witnesses during the public forum;

Be it resolved that the Standing Committee on Health ask the Minister of Health to delay making a decision on approving silicone breast implants for sale in Canada until the Committee has completed a review of the pertinent information on this issue.

As part of this review, the Minister should make available to the Committee all pertinent information, including the minutes from the scientific advisory panel, the report of the public forum, results from the 1996 cohort study, and any other studies on breast implants or their health effects commissioned by Health Canada.

Debate arose thereon.


It was agreed, — That consideration of the motion be postponed until such time as officials from Health Canada have appeared before the Committee on October 27, 2005.

The Committee proceeded to the consideration of matters related to Committee business.

By unanimous consent, it was agreed, — That the Standing Committee on Health urge the Minister responsible for the Public Health Agency of Canada, relevant officials and representatives from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, to provide an update on the avian flu action plan.


At 10:23 a.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.


Carmen DePape
Clerk of the Committee

2005/11/23 2:27 p.m.