Canada Proposal Threatens Right to Health Protection
November 10, 2003
OTTAWA — The Canadian Health Coalition (CHC) released today a Citizens’ Guide to Health Canada’s proposal for new health protection legislation. Health Canada will begin national consultations this month on a proposal to replace current legislation based on the Precautionary Principle, with new legislation based on managing risks. The risk Health Canada is talking about ‘managing’ is preventable injury and death.
Health Canada’s proposal ‘Health and Safety First!’ calls for a weaker safety standard and shifts the burden of proof off industry and onto the public. “The proposal is written in doublespeak in order to deceive and confuse Canadians. How do you get a higher level of health protection from a lower standard of safety? If Health Canada succeeds, the right of every Canadian to a high standard health protection will be eliminated,” said Michael McBane, author of Risk First, Safety Last! (www.healthcoalition.ca/safetylast.pdf).
The Citizen’ Guide is designed to de-code Health Canada’s proposal and encourage Canadians to participate in the policy debate about how much risk to human health is “acceptable”. Canadians don’t want their health protection weakened and they don’t want to be lied to.
The goal of the CHC in releasing the Guide is to restore the integrity of Canada’s health protection system. Health Canada’s objective seems to be to restore public trust in a corrupt system which operates in secret and risks lives.
Under the current Food & Drugs Act, Health Canada has a statutory duty of care. Failure to perform this duty contributed to the death of thousands of Canadians, including those who were killed after receiving tainted blood products. These deaths have also resulted in huge claims against Health Canada or regulatory negligence. Rather than learn from these disasters and adopt
measures to protect health, Health Canada is trying to drop the statutory duty and thereby avoid liability for negligence in the future.