Health Canada responds to the Spring 2021 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
April, 22, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Health Canada
Today, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development tabled his spring report and presented the results of the audit on Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Program. The audit focussed on natural health products available for sale in Canada to ensure that they are safe, effective and accurately represented to consumers.
Canada has one of the best regulatory systems in the world for natural health products, with some of the most stringent requirements. Health Canada recognizes the importance of ensuring that natural health products available for sale in Canada are safe and effective.
Overall, the audit identified both strengths and areas for improvement within the Program. It found that Health Canada licensed natural health products appropriately, based on evidence of safety and efficacy. The audit also found that when an issue was brought to Health Canada’s attention, immediate action was taken. Additionally, the audit established that Health Canada’s approach to increase the supply of hand sanitizers – a natural health product – available to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic was appropriate. Canada was experiencing an unprecedented demand for these products, which was on average six-fold higher than the previous year.
The audit also identified areas for improvement. We welcome the Commissioner’s recommendations to increase the oversight of natural health products. Our department is already working to address all of the recommendations and is taking steps to accelerate its efforts to strengthen the natural health products program, including increased oversight of quality, advertising and labelling. This includes strengthening the oversight of online advertising to ensure that Canadians have accurate and reliable information to inform their choices, launching an inspection pilot program intended to inform the development of a permanent inspection program, bringing forward a regulatory proposal to improve labelling so product labels are clear, consistent and legible for consumers, and helping ensure that the department has the tools to protect the health and safety of Canadians when a serious health risk arises.
Health Canada’s priority is the health and safety of Canadians. For many Canadians, natural health products are an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Health Canada is committed to the continuous improvement of its natural health products program to help ensure that products sold in Canada are safe and effective.
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