New CCPA study charges Health Canada with abandoning its duty to protect Canadians’ health and safety

February 25, 2005

OTTAWA—If Health Canada’s proposed “modernization” of the Food & Drugs Act is adopted, the Department’s already inadequate protection of Canadians’ health and safety will be even more severely weakened.    

That’s the warning Michael McBane is giving in his new study, Ill-Health Canada: Putting Food and Drug Company Profits Ahead of Safety, released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

McBane, national coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition, says the proposed new legislation will replace the Act’s focus on safety with the “management” of risks. Health Canada will promote new bio-pharmaceutical products, gene therapies, genetically modified foods, reproductive technology, life patenting, even cloning—and all with no evidence of their safety to be required.

Indeed, one of the main arguments the Department has advanced for amending the Food & Drugs Act is that its present wording puts too narrow a focus on public safety.

“The new Act would abandon the precautionary principle,” says McBane, “and shift the burden of proof from manufacturers to consumers. Products will be presumed to be safe until or unless they are later proven to be harmful.”

He said the evidence indicates that the federal health and safety regulatory agencies have been “captured by industry,” whose profits are to trump the protection of citizens’ health.

“If we continue to let the manufacturers and their lobbyists determine what risks are acceptable,” says McBane, “there will literally be no limit to what they will put into our blood-stream or have us swallow.

 “It’s time for the people of Canada to take back Health Canada and other health and safety regulatory agencies. Canadians don’t want to be lied to. They want their health protection to be strengthened, not weakened more than it already has been.”

The study is extensively documented and referenced. It features a supportive letter signed by 22 prominent physicians, authors, academics, and activists, including Shirley Douglas, Margaret Attwood, David Suzuki, Dr. Joel Lexchin, Dr. Patricia Baird, Dr. Nancy Olivieri, Jane Jacobs, and Sir David Weatherall.


For more information or to arrange an interview contact Kerri-Anne Finn, CCPA Communications officer at 613-563-1341 x306.