Transparency of stakeholder communications for healthy eating initiatives

Learn about Health Canada's changes to how stakeholder communication is handled for the healthy eating strategy.

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About open government

Canada's commitment to open government will help the federal government to remain transparent and open with its citizens. As part of this commitment, we're making more information available to the public. We also want to create a more responsive government by providing Canadians with more opportunities to participate in discussions on:

  • policies
  • priorities
  • regulations

Consulting with stakeholders

Consultation activities on Health Canada's healthy eating strategy have been designed to promote the involvement of, and consider the views and perspectives of, a wide variety of participants who are interested in or affected by Health Canada's healthy eating initiatives. This includes, but is not limited to: citizens, industry, non-governmental organizations, professionals, academia, and professional associations.

In line with this commitment, Health Canada invites all stakeholders to provide written submissions in response to formal consultations, which will be summarized in reports, such as Summary of Comments and What we Heard Report, which are made publically available.

A written submission is defined as electronic or mailed correspondence that represents a formal response to a proposed healthy eating policy, as outlined in a consultation document. Examples of a consultation document include:

  • A discussion paper
  • An online questionnaire
  • A data call letter.

A formal consultation is defined as a process where Health Canada invites Canadians and stakeholders to comment on new or potential changes to its policies, regulations or guidance and for which there is a defined start and end date for receiving feedback.

A new approach to communicating with stakeholders

In addition, Health Canada will publish a table of all correspondence, other than written submissions to a formal consultation, and all meetings with stakeholders in which views, opinions and information (including requests for information) are relayed with the intent to inform the development of policies, guidance or regulations related to healthy eating initiatives.

The table will include the date, subject and purpose of the meetings and correspondence. The title of any document provided during meetings will also be published. The documents listed in the table will be accessible to members of the public upon request, for the sole purpose of ensuring greater transparency. The disclosures made as part of this new policy are not part of the consultation process. Health Canada is therefore not seeking any feedback on any of these documents.

Oral or written communication for the purposes of making simple enquiries or requests for information and that do not have any relevance, in Health Canada's view, to the development of policies related to healthy eating will not be published.

This new approach will help improve public trust, openness and transparency around stakeholder engagement activities related to healthy eating initiatives beyond formal consultation processes.

The healthy eating initiatives covered by this policy include:

  • front-of-package labelling
  • elimination of industrially produced trans fat
  • sodium reduction
  • marketing to kids
  • revision of Canada's Food Guide

For the purpose of this policy, stakeholders are defined as:

  • groups
  • organizations
  • industry
  • advocates

The definition excludes:

  • individuals representing themselves, including experts
  • other levels of government
  • foreign governments

Notification:

Stakeholders will be notified again that information received in the following context will not be considered confidential when:

  • a meeting is requested
  • at the beginning of a meeting
  • correspondence is received

Protecting privacy

Personal information provided to Health Canada during stakeholder communications will be governed in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Stakeholders will be notified of how their personal information will be used and/or disclosed in the context of this new policy.

Retention period

The list of meetings and incoming correspondence will be posted for 2 years.

How you can get involved

Help inform government policies and regulations by participating in the healthy eating consultations.

Health Canada has launched an online stakeholder registry that will make it easier for you to participate in our public consultations.

If you're interested in knowing more about our healthy eating strategy, contact us at healthyeating-sainealimentation@hc-sc.gc.ca.

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