Brooke stocking shelves in the Wellness department

Save Our Supplements Campaign Update

It has been a while since we have updated you on Health Canada’s proposed regulation changes to natural health products (NHPs).

Around this time last year, we learned that Health Canada was proposing changes to regulations of NHPs such as herbal and homeopathic remedies, vitamins and minerals, probiotics, and some sunscreens. Since then, we have been working to petition the government to reconsider the proposed changes, as their impacts to the consumer are massive.

The biggest challenges are with the proposed changes to labeling requirements and what Health Canada is calling Cost Recovery.

Cost Recovery is a way for Health Canada to pay for regulatory activities. Health Canada will charge manufacturers for product evaluation, site license and annual renewal fees, most of which will be passed down to the consumer. The proposed changes to labeling have the goal of being clearer for the consumer and promote safe use. When the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) put the new labels into practice as a test, they discovered the new labels created more confusion and forced package sizes to almost double to accommodate all the additional requirements. More packaging is not only cost prohibitive to manufactures but also a massive detriment to the environment.

Implementing Cost Recovery at the same time as new labeling requirements will be incredibly costly to manufacturers, making it challenging for them to stay viable. It will impact small-medium sized businesses the most. It will also decrease innovation and access to products both within Canada and from companies outside of Canada. Where applying for an NPN number was relatively cost effective and streamlined, it will now become prohibitive and some companies will opt to not get them, which goes against the purpose of having regulations for natural products and increases the risk to consumers.

What is most disappointing, is how these changes impact us, the consumer. Canadians value supporting their health and wellness with natural health products. These changes will make access to products more costly for consumers, which disproportionately impacts low-income Canadians and further reduces the variety of products available. If these regulations go through, 76% of manufacturers say they will have to pull product from the Canadian market. We would also expect prices to increase in April 2025 when these changes will be implemented.

Regulations are crucial in any industry. Affordability and access to safe and effective natural health products is important to us all. It’s also important that these regulations not negatively impact the people that need these products the most.

Luckily, we have a little bit longer to have our voices heard. A second public consultation has been extended; we have until May 25th to let Health Canada know how these changes will impact us. You can do this 3 ways; stop by your Kootenay Co-op Wellness Department and grab one of our new post cards to send to your MP (our local MP is Rob Morrison), send your MP a pre-written letter by email or write them a more in-depth and personal letter.