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Alberta MP visits qathet to promote private member’s bill

Natural health products discussed during town hall meeting and gathering at Kelly’s Health Shop
WANTS AMENDMENT: In light of federal legislation that regulates natural health products, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins [right] visited Kelly’s Health Shop and spoke with owner Nicole Rumley, with North Island-Powell River Conservative candidate Aaron Gunn in attendance. Calkins has introduced private member’s Bill C-368, which pledges to reverse a decision made in the House of Commons last year that regulates natural health products the same as pharmaceuticals.

Blaine Calkins, MP for Red Deer-Lacombe, has introduced private member’s bill C-368 to deregulate natural health products.

In the qathet region to attend a town hall meeting, Calkins also went to Kelly’s Health Shop to speak with owner Nicole Rumley about his plans to amend Bill C-47, the Food and Drugs Act, which has provisions for the regulation of natural health products in Canada.

“This is a bill that passed last spring in the House of Commons,” said Calkins. “There was a change to the natural health products in Bill C-47 and it would allow Health Canada to make sweeping changes to the regulation of natural health products.

“According to the Natural Health Products Protection Association, the Health Food Association and the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, this could and will have a devastating impact on the industry, whether you’re a grower of the products, a manufacturer or processor, whether you’re a practitioner who’s helping people, or a retailer. There could be sweeping consequences and loss of a lot of products.”

Calkins said what is being proposed with Bill C-368 is to reverse changes the NDP/Liberal coalition voted for last year.

“I’m out here today [March 26] to urge the NDP and Liberal MPs in British Columbia to change their minds, change their votes, listen to their constituents, and listen to business owners and everybody else involved in this and get back to the way things were before the bill was passed,” said Calkins. “These products are safe and they are already well regulated. They offer a good choice for consumers.”

Rumley said Bill C-47 needs to be repealed.

“It lumps us in with pharmaceuticals and we shouldn’t be under the same regulation as the drugs,” added Rumley. “Canadians want access to natural health products. The government works for the people and that’s what the people want.”

Rumley said there is a lot of pressure on the small producers because they can’t afford the red tape and costs of going through the regulating process. She said in her store, she is seeing delays in getting some products, and anticipates that if the provisions under Bill C-47 aren’t repealed, the situation will worsen. She said the products she is selling are safe.

Calkins said Bill C-368 is scheduled to be up for debate in late April for the first hour of debate. The second hour could happen as early as May or June, but will happen by September for sure.

“Then, the House of Commons will vote and that’s where we need the MPs who voted in favour of Bill C-47 to change their minds,” said Calkins. “That includes the MP for North Island-Powell River [Rachel Blaney], who voted for Bill C-47. She has an opportunity to change her mind and that’s what we would like her to do with Bill C-368.

“We can repeal these changes that were unnecessary and make sure we ensure the sustainability and the viability of our natural health product industry here in Canada.”

Consumers are safe, says MP

Calkins said he is a consumer of natural health products.

“Almost 80 per cent of Canadians rely on these products on a daily basis in some form or another,” he added. “These are vitamins, supplements, protein powders, you name it. They have natural health product numbers on them already vetted and given a number by Health Canada.

“There’s no reason to change the process. It’s already working. The consumer is safe. There’s no need to add layers and layers of bureaucracy and layers and layers of cost.”

Calkins said he has seen the effects of Bill C-47 in his own constituency back in Alberta.

“Many involved in natural health products are very small businesses and they simply don’t have the wherewithal to get all these products approved,” said Calkins. “That will shut down those businesses and either drive the industry underground or drive it off our shores, which means people will be getting their products on Amazon and other places like that. That puts pressure on businesses here in Powell River.”

Blaney said she plans to support Bill-368.

“There are some concerns that stakeholders have brought forward about Mr. Calkin’s bill, so we are going to make sure the expert testimony checks out, and we’ll also hear from stakeholders.”

Blaney added that if everything checks out, she will be supporting the bill in committee.

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