Opinion

Cannan: Constituents prepared to stand up against bullying

I wish to acknowledge the efforts of two constituents who continue to raise awareness about bullying in our community.

The first is Jeff Christie, a young man from Kelowna who made an attempt on his own to organize an anti-bullying rally last Saturday at Rutland Centennial Park.

Though the turnout was small, talking with Jeff and the participants provided an opportunity to discuss the issue and what can be done to encourage people to stand up against bullying.

The second is Laurie Baird, who wrote to me to let me know that Nov.12 to 17 is the 10th anniversary of Bullying Awareness Week in Canada, and to encourage constituents to go to www.bullyingawarenesss.org website to learn more.

As it says on the website, “Bullying Awareness Week is an opportunity for people at the grassroots level in communities around the world to get involved in this issue, not by waiting for “someone else” to do something, but rather for us to work together on preventing bullying in our communities through education and awareness.”

Bullying touches all of us, directly or indirectly, regardless of age, gender, culture, religion or nationality.

I applaud the efforts of Jeff and Laurie, and for all my constituents who choose to take action to try to make our community a better, safer place.

As well, Nov. 12 to 18 is also Natural Health Products Week in Canada.

According to the Canadian Health Food Association, Natural Health Products Week raises awareness and shines a spotlight on natural health products (NHPs), their benefits, and the importance of the natural health industry to the more than 70 per cent of Canadians who use them.

My family can be counted as part of that 70 per cent, as can our constituents who, over the years, have taken the time to write to me about the regulation of natural health products in Canada.

There is a robust effort by NHP retailers and manufacturers across Canada to see improvements made to the regulatory process, and to encourage Health Canada to treat natural health products differently than other regulated pharmaceuticals.

I recently met with NHP industry reps in my Ottawa office and the feedback was positive, confirming the government is making progress on this issue.

In this regard, I received the following update on the progress Health Canada is making with regards to the treatment of NHPs.

Health Canada is making a shift in its approach to regulating natural health products to reduce red tape and increase consumer access and industry growth, while maintaining consumer safety.

Health Canada is building on what it has learned since the NHP regulations came into effect, what we hear from stakeholders and consumers—and what we see happening globally.

For Canadians, these changes will result in faster access to innovative, safe natural health products.

The focus of efforts will continue to be on the small group of more complex, higher risk products.

Most natural health products are lower risk and can be effectively managed with a lighter regulatory touch.

As planned, the temporary Unprocessed Product License Application Regulations (UPLAR) of the natural health product regulations will come to an end in February 2013.

At that time, the NHP-UPLAR will no longer be needed. The federal government has made changes to its licensing processes that will enable licensing decisions to be made within 180 days or less.

Industry can now count on timely review of applications, and there are new tools and pathways to bring products to market.

After the repeal of UPLAR, NHPs will continue to be regulated under their own specific regulations which take into account the unique nature of these products.

While there are those who believe that NHPs should not be regulated at all, I believe the majority of consumers want some assurance that the products they purchase are safe, whether on their own or in combination with other NHPs and medications.

On that basis, Health Canada continues to work on behalf of consumers to ensure that Canadians have access and choice to safe natural health products.

To learn more about Health Canada’s approach to NHPs, please go to the website www.hc-sc.gc.ca.

On Sunday, I return to Ottawa for the resumption of Parliament. It has been great to be back in the riding this week to connect with constituents directly.

As always, should you have any questions regarding this or any federally-related issue, do not hesitate to contact me at ron@cannan.ca or call 250-470-5075.

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