Over the past several years, Health Canada has introduced changes to the labeling of NHPs and, more recently, proposed a new cost recovery framework that has drawn a strong response from the industry.
NutraIngredients-USA caught up with Aaron Skelton, President and Chief Executive Officer, of the Canadian Health Food Association and Adam Gibson, a consultant and former Director General of the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate at Health Canada, to understand what these changes mean, and what impacts they could have on US brands doing business with its northern neighbor.
Skelton explained that CHFA has been mobilizing the grassroots to raise awareness about the harm to the industry, and consumer access to these products.
“We're quite proud of the Save Our Supplements campaign,” said Skelton. “We've been able to get over 72,000 letters sent into politicians. And from coast to coast, over 300,000 postcards that have been sent in. You know, to put it in perspective, a successful grassroots political campaign, generally, you know, generates, you know, a couple of 1,000 letters going in, so to see, you know, close to 80,000 coming, and I think is really speaking to how this resonates with people.
“And we've had meetings and conversations with politicians from every political party. And interestingly enough, every political party seems to appreciate the Idiocracy that seems to be on enrolling in. And so, there is does seem to be an understanding like, this is the wrong approach, this is the wrong way.”
“The program itself no longer seems to appreciate the benefits and the necessary implementation of a regulatory program that falls between two food and pharma regimes,” added Gibson. “I think we're losing that vision. And we're losing a lot of the benefits that came with the Canadian style of managing the sector. I think that the cost recovery proposal really shines a light on that. It's grossly insensitive to many things, we have entire sectors of traditional medicine, that essentially be put out of business.”
Skelton noted that US business who are looking to sell into Canada can provide useful voices in this push back against the changes.
“We have supported companies across the US ensuring that their concerns are raised, we've been working with some of the associations in the US to provide tools on how to do that … and we'd be glad to help and support any US companies walk through how they can raise those concerns. We've got templates. So, it's really easy and turnkey.
“But you know, the grassroots component, the impact on small businesses layered on top of this sort of legal standing on a taxation, and then the international trade components are all angles that we'll continue to push, because I think there's substance to each of those.”
Watch the full video for more insights and context from Skelton and Gibson.