Wednesday, May 14, 2008


The most personal environment of all is the individual human body. In order to stay healthy many of us make specific choices about what we eat, drink, and take for medicine. Personally I have eaten a vegetarian diet for the past 15 years and I try to eat mostly organic produce. When I am faced with an ailment I search for the most natural health products available, although when push comes to shove I listen to my doctor and take what he prescribes.

On April 8, 2008 Bill C-51 was introduced to the House of Commons in Ottawa. It has just passed through its first reading, which means that it is not law yet! This bill will allow Health Canada unprecedented powers over the public in terms of what we can consume for our own health benefits. Through regulations, fee structures, and taxation this bill will put many smaller companies out of business allowing for large multinational pharmaceutical companies to take over completely regarding the sale of natural health products.

Basically, C-51 changes the definition of the word drug to include all natural health products. This means that Health Canada will be given the power to force natural health products off the market. All such products will be treated as drugs that must face the same fees, regulations, and taxation as pharmaceuticals.

To date no death has been attributed to a natural health product. However, the Federal government of Canada has been trying for decades to regulate this growing industry to ‘protect’ the public from the unknown. In 2004 the Federal government introduced natural health product regulations, which required anyone selling these products had to conform to a licensing requirement. To date 60% of license applications have failed and it is expected as much as 75% of all Natural Health products currently sold in Canada will become illegal if Bill C-51 is passed.

Under the new law Health Canada would be able to act outside the court system by entering private property without a warrant, seizing property at their discretion, and without reporting seizures to a Court. They will be able to levy fines up to $5 million and/or seek 2 years in jail. Primarily this will apply to natural health practitioners, producers of natural heath products, and retailers. Health Canada is currently hiring more enforcement officers and has been holding recruitment meetings at universities across the country.

In recent years the natural health product have become more readily available to the general public. North Americans consume by far the largest portion of natural health products in the world, although many of these products originated from Asian and European sources. These produces are in such demand that the profits have become substantial and have attracted the attention of Multinational pharmaceutical companies. These investment-driven giants are able to put up millions of dollars to meet regulatory demands as well as clerical devices such as Drug Identification Numbers. These scan-based serial numbers must appear on all packaging of drugs and costs tens of thousands of dollars per product. They will become mandatory by Federal law if Bill C-51 passes.

Many suppliers and producers of natural health produces are small businesses, which cannot afford the exorbitant fees needed to meet Federal licensing requirements. The science behind these products are sound and the produces are healthy, having proved themselves for years, but meeting the criteria for ‘drugs’ means that they will have to spend millions to prove that the public should continue to be able to buy them.

Dr. James Lunney, Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Alberni, was a vocal supporter of a private members bill to protect supplier of vitamins during his first term in office as a member of the Alliance Party of Canada. As a Doctor of Chiropractic he seemed to understand that the body needs natural products to heal and thrive. Today Lunney has fallen silent and appears to be towing the party line with his vote in the coming decision regarding Bill C-51.

Let your local MP know about your concerns with Bill C-51 and please send letters, free of postage, to: Prime Minister Stephen Harper & Health Minister Tony Clement, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6