ENACT THE CHARTER OF HEALTH FREEDOM.
Having the Charter brought into law will guarantee a reasonable legal environment for Natural Health Products (NHPs).
Many Canadians feel betrayed by the current NHP Regulations. After participating in the largest citizen movement in Canadian History to get increased access to natural health products, Health Canada imposed the NHP Regulations designed to decrease access to NHPs.
This problem occurred because Health Canada was allowed to draft the Regulations as it saw fit.
Many Canadians also see a disconnect between Court decisions allowing access to unlicensed products where there is a genuine need, and Health Canada’s actions in restricting our access to NHPs. We have no right to treatments of our choice if Health Canada ignores the spirit of our Court decisions guaranteeing choice of treatments.
The Charter of Health Freedom was written to overcome these problems. The Charter does not create any new rights. Rather, the Charter codifies the rights our Courts say we have. The Charter compels the Government to honour our current rights.
The Charter creates a specific legal environment to ensure that NHPs are regulated fairly. All of the mechanisms regulatory bodies in Canada, the UK and the US use to over-regulate NHPs have been examined in the drafting of the Charter. As drafted the Charter should prevent the removal of any NHP due to over-regulation where there is not a legitimate health concern.
The Charter protects Canadians by ensuring that no NHP can be taken away if the risk of removing the NHP exceeds the risk of leaving it on the market. This will ensure that NHPs Canadians rely on for serious health conditions will not continue to be taken away over minor regulatory issues that are not connected to safety.
The Charter creates a separate category for Natural Health Products.
The Charter also takes the regulation of NHPs away from Health Canada which has a “drug” regulation culture. Under the Charter NHPs are moved to the Ministry of Wellness which is charged with protecting and promoting access to treatment options such as NHPs. The Ministry of Wellness is also charged with promoting the rights set out in the Charter.
Because the Minister of Wellness and the Minister of Health cannot be the same person, the Charter should protect NHP regulatory policy from being overly influenced by either the pharmaceutical lobby, or the chemical drug model.
The Charter also creates the Health Freedom Ombudsman. Currently there is no review mechanism for persons whose health is threatened by unreasonable regulatory actions. The only possible redress is through the Courts. Most do not have the time or resources for Court actions, especially when in a health crisis. For the first time, the Charter creates an independent review mechanism to ensure our current rights are respected.
The Charter came about through the collaboration of industry, practitioner and consumer groups, practitioners and consumers. All were dedicated to finding a solution to protect the natural health community. Obtaining the passage of the Charter is key to the protection of the natural health community.
The current plan to repeal the Natural Health Product Regulations and to once again regulate natural products under the chemical drug regulations is a clear signal that Health Canada has no intention of protecting our access to natural products. The Charter of Health Freedom is more necessary now then ever.
The NHPPA will be including a push to have the Charter enacted as part of the current initiative to stop the upcoming changes.
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For a copy of the Charter of Health Freedom: www.charterofhealthfreedom.org