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Meeting No. 55
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Standing Committee on Health met at 9:14 a.m. this day, in Room 253-D, Centre Block, the Chair, Bonnie Brown, presiding.


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


In attendance: Library of Parliament: Nancy Miller Chenier, Analyst; Sonya Norris, Analyst.


Witnesses: Department of Health: Philip Waddington, Director general, Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch. Justice Canada: Simon Carvalho, General Counsel.

Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee proceeded to a briefing session on Natural Health Products.

Philip Waddington made a statement and, with the other witness, answered questions.

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.

By unanimous consent, the Committee reverted to the consideration of the motion of Robert Thibault previously stood which read as follows:


• 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.


After debate, the question was put on the motion and it was agreed to, by a show of hands: YEAS: 7; NAYS: 4.


At 9:47 a.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.


Carmen DePape
Clerk of the Committee

2005/11/24 1:36 p.m.