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Holland defends new ministerial powers to pull products off the shelves

Written by on May 29, 2024

OTTAWA — Health Minister Mark Holland says he needs new powers to unilaterally take dangerous products off the shelves if they’re hurting people and not being used as intended.

He defended the new powers in the Liberals’ budget legislation against claims by an advocacy group with loose ties to the tobacco industry that is warning about the potential for ministerial abuse in the future.

The changes in the legislation would allow the minister to put conditions on the sale, advertising, manufacture and importation of health products if he believes they are being used off-label and could be harmful.

Holland called for the powers in response to the sale of nicotine pouches, which were approved by Health Canada as an aid to quit smoking — but which Holland says have been marketed to young people.

The Consumer Choice Center, which has previously accepted funding from the tobacco industry, says future health ministers could ban other health products, such as contraception, for political gain without definitive proof that they actually hurt people.

Holland says there are enough rules in place that a minister would have to be completely dishonest to be able to use the new powers that way.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2024.

The Canadian Press